Well there is no doubt about it folks… delayed harvest is in full swing. That means a lot of different things to different people. For a lot of people the inception of delayed harvest regulations means some of their favorite local streams are packed full of fish and this is the best time to get out there and catch a few. Others I’ve encountered in the fly fishing community turn their nose at the circus like atmosphere of a Saturday on the East Fork when parking spaces are few and far between and anglers line the banks to catch naïve fish on wooly buggers and san juan worms. Some folks cling to memories of the good ol’ days when there was parking o’ plenty and even high quality runs remained unspoiled in the late afternoon hours. Here’s where I stand on the issue. As a small scale ambassador of the sport of fly fishing I figure people getting out of their house, spending a little money in the industry, having a good time catching fish or having a good chance of catching fish is a wonderful thing. Would you find me out there on a Saturday off cruising the road looking for a parking spot and hoping to find 1 or 2 runs that haven’t already been hammered in hopes a catching stockers? Hell no. As for the folks who get stuck reminiscing about the days when the East Fork was relatively undiscovered, buy a map and look for the little blue lines. There are hundreds of miles of trout streams in this county alone that offer relative solitude and excellent fishing.
There are a couple of things about delayed harvest streams like the East Fork that I feel are indisputably positive. Firstly, they bring people, and I mean a lot of people, to our area. All you locals I’m sure have taken note of all the South Carolina and Georgia license plates out there. Those folks come here to fish and they buy gas, buy flies, go to restaurants, get accommodations, and pump some much needed money into the economy during the shoulder seasons of late fall and early spring. Another benefit of delayed harvest is that it provides beginner anglers with a real chance of having successful days on the river. It’s always nice to catch a few out there as you are learning the sport.
I witnessed this scenario first-hand last Friday on a half-day guided trip on the East Fork. My client doesn’t get to fly fish all that often but enjoys the sport and showed a desire to improve his skills. Think about it this way: the learning curve goes way up when you get 20 strikes an hour instead of 1 or 2. Being able to practice setting the hook and playing a fish over and over again means someone can make drastic improvements in a relatively short period of time. In the last hour of the trip he missed a lot less strikes, hooked more fish, and landed more than he did in the first hour. It was fun to watch from my perspective.
Regardless of how you feel about delayed harvest, one thing is for sure: there are a lot of fish in the East Fork right now. Whether you can’t wait to get your waders wet over there or plan to avoid it like the plague it’s a good thing for our community. If you do plan on fishing over there keep in mind we’re only a few minutes away. Swing by and we’ll swap some fishin’ stories.