2019 has come to a close and the holidays are behind us. I’ve been thinking about what to write for my final blog post of the year. I decided it might be best to do a quick review of the 2019 season and what there is to come in 2020.
From January to June, we experienced a lot of wet weather here in the mountains of South Carolina. Normally during our winter fishing season, we tend to get high 20-degree to 40-degree days up in the mountains of South Carolina. This year, several weeks of warm weather and constant rain had myself and other outfitters pushing back guided trips until we could get a break in the weather.
High flows and muddy water made for an interesting winter when everything is usually pretty clear and not a roaring torrent of water. Even with the rain, we managed to get trips to the river. And although we didn’t have the numbers we hoped for, we put some good fish to the net on multiple outings.
As winter ended and spring began to show its face, the wild creeks really started to perk up. There were a lot of quality hatches. The rivers had a lot of life to them. Which was apparent by the amount of fish we were seeing.
It was good to see fish from last year’s hatch thriving and making their way through the river happy and healthy. Big fish were also common but were more confined to the deeper pools where they could rest and stay out of sight. What we thought was going to be an epic spring was cut quite short. We may have only had a month or so, before summer came knocking on our door, and temps went from 70-degree days right into the 90's.
The rivers were doing well for a about two months before we started to see a change here in South Carolina. Flows started to drop with no rain in sight, and the water temperatures began to rise. The trout fishing was sporadic to say the least. You would have an occasional cool morning with a few hours of action, then nothing.
Around mid-July and August, I normally switch directions with the small rods being put away and the big rods coming out. The lakes warm up and the bass and carp are on the move.
We were seeing a lot of smaller bass than previous years. The carp were another story. Last year’s fish had put on quite a bit of weight, most likely due to a warmer winter. They just didn’t shut down like they would have normally in prior years. Lots of chunky 5 and 10-lbers would cruise the shallows with the occasional mommas in the 15 to 20-pound range showing themselves.
Then came fall, my favorite time of year. I had just gotten back from fishing in Michigan for 3 weeks for King Salmon. The fall season should have been in full swing, but we were still seeing the prolonged effect of how hot our summer was.
Low flows, sporadic fish catches, and high water temps had us going into the fall with no rain in sight and wondering what might happen. We would get hot days with the occasional cool spell, but nothing like we were used to for October and November. Relief came late November with rain and cooler temperatures reviving the rivers.
DH had started again, and the rivers were getting a healthy stocking of fish. The wild streams got a nice bump as water and fish slowly started to make their way down from the headwaters.
Then came December. Temps continued to drop, but with water levels not quite back to normal, most of the fish were still in the deeper pools. Fishing picked back up as we saw a change in weather. The temps dropped quickly for early December, which was a much-needed relief from the weather trend we had seen all year. Fishing started to fire up in the later parts of the month and lots of big fish were being caught as well as large numbers of fish ending up in the net.
This trend has continued, and hopefully will make for a productive 2020 winter. I felt like we got robbed last year with lots of rain, so I hope we can make up for it this coming year.
So, what does 2020 look like for me? There are not too many changes, but one considerable thing is that shop I was guiding with came under new ownership. And because of that, their guide program has been discontinued. I am looking into opening a new guide service here in South Carolina. I’ve also been playing with the idea of working for another shop.
For now, with extra time on my plate, I’ll be spending more time with family and really cracking down on fishing. I’m looking forward to spending more time on my local rivers, like I did when I first moved to the state six years ago.
If you follow me on Instagram, you will see for 2020 more local trips, but also some new things that I’m looking to accomplish this year. I’ve got a list of locations and fish I want to target. In May and June, I will be in New Hampshire to see my sister get married. If I’m going back to my family’s stomping grounds, you know I’m going to be bringing a few rods with me.
2020 for me is going to be a time to reset my clock towards future goals. Reboot myself internally and come back ready to take on what the future holds.
I hope everyone had a wonderful year with friends and family. I look forward to 2020 and seeing where it takes me.
Follow Aaron's IG account at: https://www.instagram.com/knightlifeflyfishing/