Going Small On Cheohee Creek

This South Carolina stream offers a “miniature” Delayed Harvest experience.

On The Fly Freshwater

August 2022

Aricle and photos by Jimmy Jacobs

Most of the time, when we think of delayed-harvest waters in the southeast, what comes to mind is larger water courses, stocked with lots of trout and offering plenty of room to let out some fly line. That usually involves fishing on rivers or at least larger creeks.

On South Carolina’s Cheohee Creek very little of that applies. Comparing Cheohee to most other DH waters is much like matching a lightning bug up against a bolt of lightning. All of which is to say, Cheohee Creek is a small fishery.

Choehee has been a delayed harvest stream since 2001.

Situated in the western upstate corner of the Palmetto State in Oconee County, the DH section of Cheohee was first established back in 2001. The regulated portion of the stream runs for just one mile across the property of the Piedmont Forestry and Education Center. That 700-acre tract is a former South Carolina Forestry Commission tree nursery in the foothills region of Appalachian Mountains.

With regard to regulations for the fishing, Cheohee has some rules that differ from those covering other South Carolina DH waters. But, like all the rest, during the DH season that runs from November 1 to May 14 annually, only single-hook artificial lures may be used. Dropper rigs of multiple flies are allowed, as long as each fly has only one hook. Additionally, all trout caught must be immediately released.

What sets Cheohee apart is that the fishing also is allowed from June 15 to 22 each year. Additionally, fishing is limited to Monday, Wednesday and Saturday each week.

Near the parking area at the center’s conference building, Cheohee has a rather pastoral feel. The stream is little more than 12 to 15 feet wide, running in a straight line through open fields, with some foot bridges allowing access to either shore.

No need to get your feet wet here!

There is very little need for wading this section of the stream, which alternates between shall stretches with a few deeper runs hugging the shores. There are a couple deeper pools above and below an old low head dam close to the access point at the parking area. Expect to contend with some streamside trees, but over all, it is much more open than most southern trout waters.

The lower section of the stream offers tighter conditions.

Farther downstream the creek enters a wooded area that extends to the property boundary. This part of the creek has more twists and turns, providing some deeper holding water in the outside bends. The casting is much tighter here.

The lower stream also has more bends.

Like other South Carolina DH areas, Cheohee is abundantly stocked for the season, receiving brook, brown and rainbow trout. These fish are in catchable sizes.

Tossing nymphs and Y2Ks are most likely to produce some success in the period from November to March. A couple of favored patterns for local anglers are Hare’s Ears or Prince nymphs. On some occasions, particularly during rainy weather with milder winter temperatures, some surface action with Blue-Winged Olives can occur.

The real action on topwater begins once spring arrives. Flies local anglers turn to at that time are Yellow Stimulators, March Brown Mayflies and Black Caddis patterns.

Truthfully, it is hard to offer Cheohee Creek as a destination stream for traveling anglers. That is to say, you are not likely plan a trip around fishing its waters. On the other hand, if you are in that part of South Carolina targeting trout on the Chattooga or Chauga rivers, a day on Cheohee could offer an interesting diversion.

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