Trout Stocking on the Lower Saluda River

Many fish make long and difficult journeys to get from where they hatch to where they currently live, but a few thousand trout near our capital city of Columbia may have one of the most unique of these journeys.  On December 13th the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) partnered to stock approximately 13,000 trout in the Lower Saluda River.  Around 5:00 a.m. that morning thousands of brown and rainbow trout were taken from their tanks at the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery in Oconee County and loaded into trucks equipped with specialized water tanks.  The trout were then driven more than 150 miles to a field near the edge of the Saluda River in Lexington County.   From here the fish were loaded into a lift bucket attached to a SLED helicopter, flown over the river and released into the water.  DNR uses a helicopter to stock the fish because it allows them to distribute the fish over a greater area and they can be more selective in the type of habitat they are stocked in.  Interestingly, the Lower Saluda River is not a natural trout fishery but is capable of supporting trout year round because of the cold water that is released from the bottom of Lake Murray.

The trout (about 6 to 10 inches when they were stocked) have the potential to grow to sizes larger than 20 inches.  In order to reach this size they must be allowed to remain in the river for some time.  Because of this DNR encourages anglers to practice catch-and-release fishing, especially over the next few months.  DNR will also be patrolling the river and enforcing catch limits.  This trout stocking makes the Lower Saluda an amazing asset to anglers and Congaree Riverkeeper was glad to be able to participate.

To see our video of the trout stocking click Here

For more information and another video check the DNR news release Here