Unicoi Outfitters is north Georgia's premier guide service and fly fishing outfitter, located on the Chattahoochee River near alpine Helen. Look for fishing reports, gear and book reviews, and general musings here from our staff and guides.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 6/14/24

Welcome to our warm and dry corner of the state. And we’re supposed to get even warmer and drier as summer sets in.  Your best bets this week are headwater wild trout, high elevation stockers, icy tailwater trout, bass and stripers in clearing rivers, and pond bass and bream at dawn and dusk.

While raincoats might not be needed this week, don’t forget your sunscreen and bug repellent.. And don’t forget our “Helios Open House” tomorrow. Join Garner Reid at our Helen shop between 10 and 2, test cast a rod, and qualify for a free shot at two Helios rods and a $3,000 Orvis gift card.


Check out the detailed fishing intel and more pics in our full report here:


Happy Fathers Day, too!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries: tiny chubby Chernobyl, small yellow stimulator, 409 Yager yellow, parachute Adams, tan elk hair caddis, parachute black ant.

Nymphs & Wets: 

Small pats rubberlegs, gold ribbed hares ear, pheasant tail nymph and soft hackle, drowned  ant, green weenie.

Streamers & warm water:

(Trout) Squirrely bugger, sparkle minnow, and mini shimmer buggers for stockers. 

(Bass & stripers) polar changer, stealth jig, wiggle minnow, craw changer, boogle bug popper.

(Panfish) amnesia bug, small chubby Chernobyl, bluegill spider, donkey kong hopper.

(Carp) Gorgan craw, squirmy hybrid. 


They’re low and clear and starting  to heat up because of the warm nights.  At 10AM today Spoilcane was 64F 

and upper Smith was 63F.

They’re still fishing really well, however, especially before lunch.  Stealth and small, fluffy dries will get you plenty of rises from little wild trout.

A faithful UO customer told me today that he hiked high above Helen one morning this week and caught ten specks on his stimmy dry/ruby midge dropper combo. After lunch he slid over to a local stocker stream on the forest and hit the jackpot on stocker browns, with most hitting his Chernobyl and hopper dry patterns.

Stocked Waters:

Despite low, clear, and warming waters, area stocker streams are still fishing great, especially in the mornings. Both bait and fly anglers are enjoying success, with browns being the dominant species caught. Even our vacationers from FL, MS, and LA are finding some fish on their inaugural trouting trips to the GA mountains. The keys are small hooks, small baits, and light lines. Small buggers and chubby Chernobyl are working well for fly anglers.

There are still plenty of fish being stocked each week by GA’s  three state hatcheries and one federal hatchery.  Take advantage of the program before it cuts back on weekly stocking numbers, by design, after July 4th.  Sign up for the weekly stocking list, fresh every Friday, if you haven’t already. Find it here:


Rabunite Ray:  “Nice seeing you at the shop last Saturday.  I took your suggestion to fish the upper portion of a stocked stream near my home. I had a lot of strikes and managed three keepers, which I kept for a fish fry that evening.  Trout were taking my tan caddis dry, but only when I had a drag-free drift.  Good time fishing, thanks for the suggestion!”

Rabunite Bluejay said: “ Match the hatch!  This mayfly landed on me, so I found a dry fly close to it and it was game on at my local stocker stream. Thanks for good advice.

On my next trip, my girlfriend caught landed her first trout on a fly at my local hotspot near my Habersham home. We had a great time astream together.”


UO buddy Hillis: “Three of us fished the Hooch tailwater below Buford Dam last Friday. Fishing was slow, but it was great to get out. I tried several different flies and techniques, none of which worked. I had several hits, but only landed one. One of my buddies caught a few, didn’t say how many, but he sounded a bit disappointed, so … Unfortunately my other fishing buddy was skunked.

I like to fish a hole we call “the deep hole” on the west side of the Hooch about 3/4 of the way down between the ramp and Haw Creek. I talked to a guy fishing from the bank there, as he was leaving he showed me his stringer of fish. It appeared he had caught his limit. One of the fish was really large. He told me it was the largest trout he had ever caught in the Hooch. Another guy spinning said he was catching some big trout also. As for the three of us, we did not catch many fish but we enjoyed wading and fishing the cool waters of the Hooch, and afterwards,  as is our custom, conversing about the morning over lunch at a picnic table in the park.”

UO buddy RonW: “Our trio hit Buford Dam last Saturday (6/8) for a few hours of fishing. We had "boots in the water" by 8: 30, trying to beat the heat. It was a typical start for the three of us with a dry/dropper setup. I bailed around 11:30 with 6 to hand, half bows and half browns. The last brown ate a size 22 dry on a downstream feed. He was rising about every 25 seconds.... Apparently my timing was impeccable!

The guys ended up staying a few hours longer. We all did about the same as far as numbers with most fish coming on the dropper. All in all, it was another great day for some much  needed hydrotherapy with my squad.”

Private Waters: 

We wrapped up UO’s spring guiding season with some nice private water trips.

UO-Helen company manager Jake: “Corey and I snuck out on the Soque Wednesday morning while the water temps were good, and we had a great morning. We landed fish in shallow riffles by tossing small, tungsten-weighted Girdle Bugs with smaller mayfly nymphs  trailing. Once the sun got up slightly, we switched to a dry/dropper rig and caught some really nice fish, with a few taking the dry.”

UO guide Israel: “I had fun guiding these gals last Saturday morning before the day warmed up. A small woolly bugger was our hot fly of the day.”


UO buddy Lumis: “Fished the Nantahala DH last Saturday morning as I practiced some Euronymphing, which is new to me. 

Euronymphing was pretty interesting and I stuck  to it all day.  I kept catching fish in the pocket water and never got around to dries since the nymphs were producing pretty well.

Fished the Smokies for a few hours on Sunday. Got into a couple small wild fish and lost 2 big ones after a minute of fighting both. I figure the big ones were holdovers that escaped the trophy section.   I usually love my barbless hooks but dang does it feel like I would have got them on barbed hooks!”

Warm Rivers:

Area rivers are clear from the lack of rainfall and warming up with these hot days.  The bass and bream action should start heating up, as well. Try some popper/dropper combos for both. Also strip some bigger streamers for the bass and maybe a bonus striper.

Stripers have once again set up summer camp at Nacoochee Bend.  Feel free to call our Helen shop (706-878-3083) if you want to book an opportunity to wade out and catch one on the fly. They’re tough, so you must hit them when they can’t scrutinize your fly. That means dawn, dusk, and in stained water after a storm.



Small lakes are still fishing well. It’s a fine time to paddle around their perimeters at dawn or dusk and toss poppers toward the bank. There are plenty of local opportunities for yakkers and canoeists to capitalize on this summer flyfishing action. Stop in the shop for some intel - and maybe a new Feelfree kayak.

See the state park lakes list in here:


UO buddy Athens Jay:  “Last Saturday a group of service-minded anglers that included members of the GA Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, GA Trout Unlimited, the Atlanta Flyfishing Club, Georgia DNR, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources participated in the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation Mentoring Camp for high school girls. We helped 120 young women catch fish and taught them about natural resources management and conservation. This is an incredible annual event, and as you can tell from the photos, fish were caught and much fun was had by all. I can’t express how grateful I am to all the volunteers who were willing to dedicate a day of their lives to helping others.

UGA 5Rivers member and Warnell fisheries student Adam picked up some nice fish after working hard all day helping kids.”


UO buddy AJ: “Not much new to report.  I fished a few hours Monday AM. Moved about a dozen or so bass on humps and saddles, especially those with brush piles. If there are no takers on top, try soft plastics fished a little deeper. And fish early if you want to avoid pleasure boat crowds. School is out and it's hot!  By 10:30 I was dealing with quite a few wake boats and jet skis.”

The Salt:

This just in: “Hey Jeff, This is Connor Walker from the UGA 5 rivers club! We got on some nice sea trout this week in Charleston and just wanted to send you a picture in case you want to include it in the next fishing report. “

That’s the latest from a warm and dry Helen. Come up and cast a Helios tomorrow if you haven’t the time.  Good luck this week. Happy Fathers Day to all of you dads. We hope your kids spoil you with some new fishing bling or a gift certificate for a guided fishing trip!  

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


Friday, June 7, 2024

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 6/7/24

Our summer season continues. The good news is that fairly cool nights and frequent afternoon storms have extended our morning trout bite. Pond fishing is good, reservoir predators are heading to deeper, cooler waters, and some stripers have run up the rivers to their summer thermal refuges.

Your best bets this week are bluelines and stocker streams for a helping of trout before lunch, river stripers at low light or in muddy waters, and pond bass and bream at dawn and dusk. Don’t forget your sunscreen, bug repellent, and raincoats. 

We also celebrate the last days of National Fishing and Boating Week. It’s a great time to introduce a friend or family member to fishing. Per GAWRD:

Free Fishing Days: Georgia offers two FREE fishing days (Sat., June 1 and Sat., June 8, 2024) during this special week. On these days, Georgia residents do not need a fishing license, trout license or Lands Pass to fish.”

Check out our detailed intel in our full report here:


(Link in bio)

Stop in either UO store for the latest info, hot flies, and some spinning tackle and baits for our stocked trout fans, too. Good luck!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries: chubby Chernobyl, yellow simulator, 409 Yager yellow, parachute Adams, tan caddis, para black ant, deckers yellow sally.

Nymphs & Wets: 

girdle bug, gold ribbed hares ear, pheasant tail nymph and soft hackle, drowned  ant, green weenie, improved yallarhammer.

Streamers & warm water:

(Trout) Squirrely bugger, sparkle minnow, bank robber sculpin, and mini shimmer buggers for stockers. (bass & stripers) polar changer, stealth jig, wiggle minnow, craw changer, dungeon.

(Panfish) amnesia bug, bluegill spider, donkey kong hopper.

(Carp) Gorgan craw, squirmy hybrid. 


Headwaters are a bit low, very clear, but still cool enough for decent action before the intense, late afternoon sunshine kicks up their water temperatures.  At 10AM today Spoilcane ran 62F, while Smith was 62 above Unicoi Lake and a warm 68 below it.

We’ve had good reports from high elevation trouters visiting our Helen shop this week for a resupply of their summer dries. Stimmies, caddis, and small chubbies have been the hot dry patterns. We’re also selling sunken ants, green weenies, and small pheasant tails as droppers to search the deep pools.

A reliable source said a combo hiking/fishing trip along a Rabun County trout stream trail was productive. Little wild rainbows were suckers for a yellow stimulator after an afternoon storm passed and cooled off the creek.

Delayed Harvest: 

UO buddy Hillis:

“On Tuesday I ventured across the state line with a fishing buddy to fish the DH section of Fires Creek. Fires Creek, including the DH section, had been stocked on Monday. 

Water was a bit high and stained, but fishing was good. My fishing buddy started the day walking up to the 5th crossing, fishing a couple of holes on his way up and catching a few. After the 2nd crossing it appeared the stream had not been stocked and his catch rate slowed down. He fished his way up to the 5th crossing, but as the fishing was slow and someone was already fishing his hole near the 5th crossing he immediately started back down, catching a few as he worked his way back to the parking lot.

Meanwhile I started the day fishing next to the parking lot and fairly rapidly caught several. I then crossed the foot bridge and started fishing the DH section. I fished several runs up to and just above the 1st crossing, catching several. I met my fishing buddy at the first crossing, and although his day had not been as fruitful as mine, he caught a 16 inch brookie which sort of made his day. I caught several that were probably 12 inches but nothing larger. It would have been nice to catch something larger, regardless it was one of my better days. An olive wooly with a tungsten bead, size 8 or 10, trailed by a beaded soft hackle pheasant tail with an orange collar, swinging/drifting and stripping at end of the swing worked for me. 

We had expected a crowd but only a couple of vehicles were in the parking lot when we arrived. No competition on the stream for me, I pretty much had my pick of holes on the way up. That was not the case coming back down. We were back at our car by noon and eating BBQ in Hayesville before 1:00. There was a chance of rain but as it turned out it was a very nice morning. The rain held off until we hit Rt 400 on our way home. It was a great day!”

Stocked Waters:

There are still plenty of fish being stocked each week by GA’s  three state hatcheries and one federal hatchery. Sign up for the weekly stocking list, fresh every Friday, if you haven’t already. Find it here:


With the kids now on summer vacation, a trip to north GA trout waters is a great idea. Wet-wade and fish the mornings with light line and small (#10) hooks baited with a worm or a Powerbait doughball for some fast action.  

If they’d like to learn flyfishing, just have the youth strip a small dark woolly bugger through the pools and runs of bigger stocked streams such as the Hooch, Tallulah, Chattooga, Dicks, Rock, and Cooper.

Private Waters: 

UO-Helen manager Wes: “I did a couple of AM private water trips this week. The bite is still pretty decent in the early morning before the water temps start to rise. 

The key to getting bites for me was to cover water to find active fish. A dry/dropper was my go-to rig this week. Most fish came on a girdle bug dropper, but a decent amount were also willing to come up and eat a chubby Chernobyl on the surface.”

UO staffers Jake, Jimmy, and Caleb joined GATU volunteers yesterday to guide 13 GA Trout Camp teenagers at Nacoochee Bend on the Hooch. All of the campers caught fish. Jake said a dry/dropper combo worked well, with rainbows hitting both the chubby dry and the micro stonefly dropper. When it rained, Jake said a small black conehead woolly bugger was hot. 

Camp leader Rodney Tumlin reported: “Thirteen students from across Georgia & two from Tennessee participated in Trout Unlimited's six day, Georgia Trout Camp this week. Students worked with the Forest Service & Ga. DNR to improve stream habitat for native fish, they learned how to cast a fly rod & tie flies, they helped GaDNR stock trout, and they fished every day. Actually, they caught more fish this week than other camps in recent memory!”

Congrats to Rodney and all of his TU volunteers for a successful 20th annual GA Trout Camp!


UO buddy CDB:

“Private waters fished well this week. The rains helped cool the water down a little bit, making the fish more active. Walt’s Worms were especially effective.

Tried some other waters today, where I had heard there were some hatches coming off, and pretty good dry fly fishing. Unfortunately that was not the case for me. I fished a variety of colors and sizes. I did not see any insect activity on the water. However, when I switched to jigging a black leech along the bottom, the action was fast and furious,  yielding a couple nicely spotted browns to go along with the rainbows.”

Warm Rivers:

Lanier is warming up and some stripers have run up the rivers to their summer thermal refuges. Followers of our daily social media posts know that we are now offering unguided striper trips at Nacoochee Bend. Feel free to call our Helen shop (706-878-3083) to learn more about this unique summer opportunity.

UO buddy BT gave it a shot last nite and reported:

“I was fishing close to dusk and was using a pink wiggle minnow using a SA sink tip line. I was actually burning the fly back to me as fast as possible when the fish ate. I noticed they were really in the mood for something moving fast.”

River bass and bream action will be good when the water is clear enough for fish to spot your flies.  Strip some streamers or float some popper/dropper rigs through the shade during the day. Small buggers and big pats rubberlegs are good bass droppers. Toss rubber-legged poppers and stealth bombers when the sun sets and the evening shadows grow across the river.


Athens Jay said local pond action has still been hot for him and his UGA buddies. Both bass and bream have been cooperative. Jay reports:

“Yesterday a group from UGA 5 Rivers, UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the Georgia Chapter of the American Fisheries Society took a group of high schoolers from Houston County fishing and then talked to them about careers in natural resources management. It was great to see how excited the young folks were about fisheries and conservation.

A few of our volunteers stayed over to fish the early morning bite, and were rewarded for their service to the community. 

Mathew caught his personal best largemouth on a custom fly tied by “Athens Jay” out of mostly rabbit strips and marabou.”

Find your own local ponds with public access by zooming in to the WRD interactive map of fishing areas. Give it a try here:



UO buddy AJ: “Fished Lanier  a few hours on Wednesday morning. Went scouting for humps with brush piles. Found a few brush piles and marked a few fish on them, but no takers on topwater and missed a few light grabs on a jig head paddle tail. Couldn't hook a bass, but did stumble on a group of stripers blowing up briefly. Got 1 throwing topwater with the herring Ima Little Stik and picked up 2 more casting the jig head paddle tail to fish on the graph. Water temps were 78-79 and bass have definitely moved towards their summer haunts. Focus on those 25 ft humps and saddles, especially those with brush piles on them.”

Alex Jaume

Lanier on the Fly


Hit your favorite waters early in the day for some comfortable air temperatures and hot fishing action.  It’s still pretty darn nice before lunch up here, so wake up early and enjoy some fine morning fishing before the sun gets too high. Don’t forget your raincoats for those pop-up storms!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.