Smalllmouth Bass Fishing on the Broad River, South Carolina
One of our favorite things to do is learn about more great smallmouth bass fisheries. Sometimes we explore nationally known favorites and sometimes we highlight local gems that aren’t known to the general public. If you live in South Carolina and are a smallmouth bass angler, you already know about the Broad River.
The Broad River originates in the Blue Ridge Mountains of eastern Buncombe County, North Carolinaand flows generally south-southeastwardly, through or along the boundaries of Rutherford, Polk and Cleveland Counties in North Carolina; and Cherokee, York, Union, Chester, Fairfield, Newberry and Richland Counties in South Carolina. In North Carolina, the river is dammed to form Lake Lure; in South Carolina it passes through the Sumter National Forest and the communities of Cherokee Falls and Lockhart before joining the Saluda River to form the Congaree River in the city of Columbia. Source
Smallmouth Bass Fishing Broad River
On a recent float and fishing trip down the lower Broad River, the sight of an osprey with a fish in its clutches brought a big smile to the faces of everyone in our party. The sight of fellow “fishers” like ospreys successfully fishing is good karma for us human anglers! Armed with both spinning and fly gear, we soon hopped out of the boats near a shallow riffle area to wade and fish. On my second cast to a run easily five feet deep, my spinning line abruptly stopped its downstream tumble in the swift current. Pulling back, I thought I had hung up on the bottom. Movement of the line told me otherwise, and my light rod quickly bent under the weight of a heavy fish. All of a sudden, in a jump that would have put a tarpon to shame, a flashing smallmouth bass launched itself at least five feet in the air, shaking its head and tossing the lure about halfway back to me! Standing frozen in the moment with my mouth wide open, I could only laugh as I began reeling the slack line back in. Source
History of smallmouth bass on the Broad
The state of North Carolina first established smallmouth bass in the Broad River drainage, stocking the popular gamefish from 1941 to 1985. In South Carolina, smallmouth bass were first stocked experimentally in the Broad River drainage in York and Cherokee counties. The idea was to increase the diversity of sport fishing in that part of the state. Biologists considered the habitat in King’s Creek, with its cooler, cleaner water, a good fit for the smallmouth.
But a 2003 sampling study by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources found something unexpected — substantial numbers of smallmouth bass in the Broad River immediately above Parr Reservoir. The sampled fish showed growth typical of piedmont streams, and evidence of reproduction. Study coordinator and DNR fisheries researcher Jason Bettinger summed up the results like this: “The study found the Broad River to be a predominantly largemouth bass fishery with a small, but unique, smallmouth fishery and a strong following of anglers reporting frequent success.”
But here’s where it gets really interesting. Since the 2003 study, smallmouth bass have also begun showing up below Parr Reservoir, as far downstream as the Congaree River below Columbia, in fact. Catches have been reported well south of Columbia, and a DNR sample in the upper reaches of Lake Marion even produced smallmouth. Both anglers and fisheries biologists have been surprised by this turn of events, as smallmouth typically prefer cooler water temperatures, and those stretches of the Broad and Congaree reach the upper 80s in the summertime.
Smallmouth in the four-to-five-pound range have been reported by many Broad River anglers, with one-to-two- pound fish fairly common. Those catches are great proof that there is ample food for the bass to eat. Source
Like so many of the great rivers in the USA and Canada, smallmouth bass are thriving as long as the water remains healthy and clean. Other areas are suffering due to population, industrial or agricultural pollution. We are thrilled to see the Broad River thriving and anglers enjoying the benefits.
If you have fished the Broad, feel free to upload a picture or two and make a comment below!