Cast And Blast On The Saluda

September is always known for the beginning of hunting season because deer and dove season begin. The early goose season is one that I have always overlooked, and it spans for the entire month of September with a limit of 15 geese per person.

I thought about how many geese we see while striper fishing on the Saluda River and talked to Daniel Coleman about riding out there to cast for striper and blast geese from the canoe. Daniel agreed to meet in Dillon at 4:30 am and we drove to Columbia.
It was still dark at 6 am when we launched the boat and we casted at the bank as we drifted down stream in the dark. There was no sign of geese until an hour later when we heard the distinct honking sound of geese. I dropped my paddle and clicked the safety off on my shotgun and we both looked to the sky. A flock of geese appeared from over the treetops and flew across the river. I twisted in my seat to fire two shots as they passed behind us but I missed. I fumbled for shells and reloaded the gun. The excitement was only beginning.
I paddled our canoe through some rocks and a rapid while Daniel continued to cast. The fast water holds the most striper and smallmouth bass. I saw a bronze backed smallmouth go for Daniel’s bait, so I told Daniel we need to work the fast water for a few minutes. I dug my paddle into the water and spun the canoe around to point the bow upstream. When we came around, we saw a line of geese flying low along the river and coming straight for us.
We dropped our fishing rods and took up our shotguns and waited as the geese closed in on us. We waited until the geese were about to pass us and shouted, “Fire!” Both guns came alive, and the geese found themselves taking anti-aircraft fire. I fired my first shot and the goose kept flying. I pumped and fired again and missed again. With only one shot left, I selected the goose at the rear of the flock and fired my last shot. The goose stopped in midair and fell, crashing into the water next to the canoe.
We picked up my goose and placed it in the canoe and finished off a goose that Daniel shot. We anchored behind the rapids at the same place to see if any more geese would pass. There were a few more flocks that passed but they seemed to be more aware of us and flew the far sides of the river to stay out of range.
Daniel and I raised the anchor and continued downstream. We saw all kinds of wildlife while we paddled including the great blue heron, osprey, beavers, and a muskrat. I especially enjoyed paddling this section of river because I usually fish the lower part near the Zoo and it was fun to paddle a section that I haven’t seen since 2017.
We reached a rock garden where the rocks and boulders dotted the river making a maze for the water to pass through and eventually becoming rapids near the end. As we approached the rocks, Daniel pointed out 4 geese poised on a rock. We decided to get as close as possible before jumping the geese into flight and shooting them. I changed course to the left side of the river, and we kept an eye on the geese as we navigated through the rocks. The geese seemed undisturbed by our erratic course until our canoe appeared from behind a boulder, within range to fire a full broadside. The geese started honking, Daniel and I took aim, and opened fire as they took off. I fired on a goose that splashed into the water, then into the sun at another splash that I saw. Daniel and I were still pointing our guns and looking, and Daniel said, “I think we got them!”
The geese were floating in the water, and we had to paddle quickly to pick them up before they drifted into a rapid. With the canoe loaded down with 5 geese, we decided to pull up onto a rocky island for refreshments. Daniel packed ham and cheese sandwiches and drinks. We sat on the rocks watching the current and talking about the excitement of the morning.
A boat passed by and asked if the rapids ahead were bad and if he could get back up the rapids with a jet motor. I said, “They aren’t bad, you’ll be able to make it” and he continued after we exchanged striper reports. We packed our canoe and fished as we paddled downstream.
As we approached the rapid, we could see the elevation change ahead and I realized that this rapid might be bigger than I remembered. I stood for a moment to gage which way to pass and sat down to start paddling. Daniel and I paddled fast into the rapid and took some water over the bow but made it through. A second rapid waited ahead, and we paddled through unscathed. I turned around and looked at the rapids after we paddled through and said, “I might have given our friend some bad advice.”
We paddled through Stacey’s Ledge Rapids before reaching our destination and then carried our boat and gear to the parking lot. For a river that I have only ever fished on, it was unusual to come out with geese instead of fish. We stopped at a gas station on the way home to cover the geese with ice and then cleaned them when we came home. Daniel cooked his geese in a pressure cooker, and I cooked them in a crock pot roast to have as lunch for the week. No fish were caught in our Cast and Blast voyage but in this case, the successful hunt took precedence.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email