Located in the hills of upstate South Carolina, Clemson is a hidden gem. The University itself gives the city of Clemson its recognition, but it is the community around it that gives it its charm. For some of us though, it is the cool water of the nearby rivers and streams that truly draws us to Tiger Town.
Founded in 2013, the Clemson University Fly Fishing Club has since grown astronomically. As of right now, we have 136 members on our roster. We like to tell people that with that many members, you can guarantee that there is at least one of us fishing every day! With new people joining each year, we are always evolving in new ways to interact with our members that have them telling their friends about us! From fly tying nights to fly golf games, our goal is to make the club into something interactive on and off the water.
One unique aspect of our group is that our alumni continue to engage with us via social media and related events. This semester, these include an overnight trip to the Nantahala River, a saltwater fishing seminar hosted by alumni Dylan Barker, and a fly tying night with Orvis endorsed fly tiers.
Being in the top left corner of the state gives us the advantage of being able to access many different waterways in the mountain fisheries. These include the French Broad, Chauga, Chattooga, Saluda, Estatoe, Tuckaseegee, Davidson, Nantahala, and Green Rivers. Our favorite stretch by far is the East Fork of the French Broad because of its many access points, beautiful views and, of course, fish! Our target species are Brook, Brown, and Rainbow Trout.
Close by, Lakes Hartwell and Jocassee offer Largemouth, Spotted, and Striped Bass. These waterways hold both wild and stocked species. Having this Interaction between types of fish promotes healthy rehabilitation of the fish population while also boosting the health of the ecosystems In and around these waterways.
At our last casting clinic, over 50 students signed up. They were then split Into two groups: beginner and advanced. We have promoted the philosophy of peer learning during every outing. We’ve found that student mentors help bring others Into our fly fishing family.
When we have casting clinics with our members, we use a special area on campus that we have labeled “Daboland,” in honor of our beloved football coach and team. This area consists of fields we can use to practice casting principles and once confident, little bass ponds that offer some easy fun. This is also a great place to take a study break!
For your next club meeting, try playing Fly Golf!
How to Play: Set up various objects at various distances away from the casting line. Our favorites Include: Red Solo Cups, Hula Hoops and CDs. Working your way down the casting line, each contestant takes a turn trying to cast at the specified target. Object of the game: get your fly closest to the target In the least amount of false casts!
How to Win: Add up your points with each round, keeping In mind different targets equal different point numbers! The object closest to the line has the highest point multiplier. Every false cast equals 1 point. The player with the least amount of points wins the game!
Members of our club have worked with organizations such as Project Healing Waters, Fish for Change, and the SC Wildlife Federation. Some of our club events are river clean ups and stream restorations. We create runs, waterfalls, and eddys so that trout have oxygenated water and holes to hide in. Additionally, we partner with the Clemson Fisheries Society to give back to our community and get a chance to talk about our passions. We are also engaged with Mike Watts, the fly fishing course Instructor, and some have become his Teaching Assistants while mentoring the classes on their outings.
“The thing that makes fly fishing so exciting Is the beauty of the sport. From the places we fish, to the fish we catch, to the way we cast, fly fishing can only be described as an art.” — Will Mossbrook, Graduate Student
“While I love fly fishing for the sake of the sport, the best part about it is the time It allows me to spend with family and friends in some of Creation’s most beautiful places, and chase some of its most beautiful creatures.” — Brodie Brant, Junior
To Increase awareness of the sport of fly fishing around campus, we are currently working In conjunction with RiversAndFeathers.com to host a writing competition. The goal Is to procure pieces of work that encapsulate the essence of fly fishing through specific topics. Even though our club Is hosting the event, we have engaged the entire university and hope to continue our club’s growth!
Something unique about our club is that we have a lot of members who are not just freshwater anglers. Many members hail from the Lowcountry of South Carolina where there exists an entirely different fishery. The salt marshes provide species such as redfish, sheepshead, tarpon, and cobia.
Traveling and fishing have an incredible amount of overlap, whether it’s 4 hours to the Lowcountry or a plane ride away to the Bahamas, our members have surely been getting out there!
With the energy and enthusiasm of these young people, our sport of fly fishing is in good hands and the future is bright!
Publishers note, ( Faculty Advisor for the CU Fly Fishing Cub ); From our humble beginnings in 2013 with a handful of students who had a vision of sharing their passion for the sport of fly fishing, now boasts an incredible number of active students nine years later. It demonstrates a true love for the sport and a willingness to share it with others to perpetuate a lifelong hobby that combines fly fishing, conservation, and a belief that any fish species can be caught on a fly! Each year I admire the energy and enthusiasm of their combined efforts. The future of our sport is bright. – MW
About the Author; Emily Roudebush is a senior, an active board member of the CU Fly Fishing Club, graduating in December 2022 with a B.S. in Marketing and a Biological Sciences Minor.