For decades, anglers in South Carolina have been catching coldwater trout far from the fish’s mountain range, thanks to the frigid waters pouring out of the depths of Lake Murray and into the Lower Saluda River just outside of Columbia.

Catching rainbow, brook, and brown trout in the midlands is an opportunity that plenty of anglers still don’t even know about, and many anglers pass right by these waters on their way to the Upstate to catch trout, many of which come from the exact same hatchery where these fish originate.

The SCDNR is looking for public input on making a stretch of the Lower Saluda a catch-and-release only fishery. Currently, anglers are allowed to keep a combined total of five trout, and only one fish can be greater than 16 inches, and anglers are bound by no bait or tackle restrictions.

Under the proposal to create a special management zone, a 1.3-mile stretch of river between the eastbound lanes of I-26 and Stacey’s Ledge will be designated as catch-and-release only. This area is prime habitat for coldwater trout to establish themselves and grow to trophy size, a very unique fishery in this part of the state.

Outside of that 1.3-mile stretch of river, the current regulations will remain in place.

Public outcry is common anytime a change in regulations is discussed, and again when any change is implemented. But the time to voice your opinion is now, while the SCDNR is considering input from the public. 

A meeting to discuss this issue in depth will be held at the Saluda River Club at 629 Chickasaw Drive in Lexington, SC on Feb. 13. But you don’t have to attend the meeting to have your voice heard. Click here to complete the survey, which will help the SCDNR understand what the public wants before proposing any changes to lawmakers.