Gone Fishin’

Fish in a Barrel –
The Walhalla State Fish Hatchery in – you guessed it – Walhalla.

A 162-mile drive, about three hours, will take you to a memorable place, the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery. Make your way to Walhalla and follow the directions at the end of this column. If you come away with a desire to go fishing and a hankering for fried trout, blame it on this column.

Summer is a good time to make the trip. Green leafy mountains and winding roads make for a calming effect, something quite the opposite of the fish-frenzied Walhalla State Fish Hatchery. Walking through the hatchery you’ll see fingerlings aplenty, all swimming to and fro, churning the waters.

The old hatchery is easy on the eyes. The Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps built it in the 1930s. Make note of the beautiful rock architecture. Earth tone and hues do much to make the hatchery blend into the mountain environment. It’s said the rocks came from nearby mountains.

The hatchery is the only cold-water fish hatchery the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources operates. Brown, brook and rainbow trout are raised here for stocking the public waters of South Carolina. Most trout are cultured to a size of 9 to 12 inches before being released. About half a million trout are produced and stocked annually. You can see large trout ranging from 5 to 15 pounds at the hatchery as well.

Visitors are welcome to tour the hatchery and to fish in the East Fork, which runs through hatchery grounds. You’ll find places to picnic too.

Belong to a fishing club? You can plan special group tours by calling the hatchery (The best time of year to schedule group tours is in the fall). Visits by individuals and families take place on a walk-through basis. The day I was there several families were touring the hatchery. Kids love to see the fish up close and they get a thrill when the fish splash them.

You’ll find plenty to do when you’re done visiting the hatchery. Adjacent to the hatchery is the Chattooga Picnic Area, operated by the U.S. Forest Service. Next to the picnic area is the boundary of the Ellicott Rock Wilderness. Hikers may take a trail that goes along side the East Fork for 2.5 miles to the Chattooga River. From there you can go upstream to Ellicott’s Rock (1.7 miles) or downstream to the Burrell’s Ford campground and parking lot (2.1 miles). Request a trail map.

On Highway 107 South toward Walhalla is the Oconee State Park. Here there are cabins, camping areas, swimming and numerous other recreational activities. Best of all it’s refreshing to go to the mountains when summer heats up the land and you’ll find it educational to learn about the life cycle of trout. And then you can plan a fishing trip and have that fish fry I mentioned earlier.

If You Go …

Walhalla State Fish Hatchery
198 Fish Hatchery Road

Mountain Rest, S.C. 29664

864-638-2866

Open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There may be a few exceptions during the winter months if inclement weather makes conditions unsafe for visitation. The hatchery is closed Christmas Day.

www.hatcheries.dnr.sc.gov/walhalla/tour.html

 

Learn more about Tom Poland, a Southern writer, and his work at www.tompoland.net. Email day-trip ideas to him at [email protected]