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.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Toccoa Tailwater 2/25/09 (or, Get A Net, Dummy!)

Well, I just couldn't stand it another day. After taking care of a couple of business chores in and around Blue Ridge Wednesday morning, I hit the Toccoa at 12:30. Was I not paying close attention to the weather this morning or, by chance, did the weatherman get it wrong? Expecting a bright sunny day with temperatures in the mid 50's, I almost didn't bring along a jacket. That would have been a big mistake. As I geared up, it didn't seem like such a bad idea to wear my lightweight vest and my fleece jacket. The skies looked threatening, the wind was howling and if the air temps got anywhere close to the predicted highs, you could have fooled me. To boot, there were no bugs coming off, thus no rises. Man did I want to fish dries this afternoon! By golly, I'm going to fish them anyway... but with a soft hackle pheasant tail dropper just in case. I tied on one of my all time favorite attractor dries, the trusty Parachute Adams in size 14. And that's the only rig I fished all afternoon. I had the river to myself and the fishing was darn good. Surprisingly, with virtually no bugs coming off, over half the fish took the Adams. Today was a clear indication that the Toccoa tailwater continues to improve as a trout fishery. Most of the fish caught today were quality rainbows in the 12" - 14" range. Wild jumpers every one.

A very unusual thing did happen late in the afternoon. I had fished one of my favorite little pockets as soon as I got in the river earlier in the day with no results. I knew there should be fish in there but they just weren't interested. Three hours later I went back there, with the same dry/dropper rig as earlier. First cast resulted in a chunky 13" brown. I moved to the top of the run and made a cast to the far side to get a drift down a narrow chute that has yielded fish in the past. A nice rainbow rolled on my fly and I lifted the rod to set the hook. She looked to be about 13 or 14 inches as I worked her within ten or twelve feet. All of a sudden my reel began to screen as the fish took off downstream! I'm thinking, "What are you doing? You aren't big enough to take me into my backing, but you're just about to do that very thing!" I began working my way downstream to gain some line and noticed it going around a submerged rock. As I positioned myself to work the line loose, the fish made a run back upstream and jumped. Wow!!! How did my respectable little rainbow become a HUGE BROWN? He's tail hooked and jumping all over the place and I'm getting nervous. It's the biggest brown I've hooked into (okay, I know I'm foul hooked but he's giving me a wild ride and I'm liking it) on the Toccoa. Now, all of sudden I can understand the reel smoking run. The brown must have sensed the rainbow in distress and attacked, only to knock her off my fly and then hook himself in the tail in the fray. Now, if you read my last Toccoa report, you will recall that I lost my net just before landing a 20" male brown so here I am locked in a battle with this big guy, foul hooked on 6X and me with no net... again. I had to work the fish out from under overhanging limbs because I was afraid if I went in after him he would bolt and I couldn't maneuver my rod quickly enough to stay in the battle. I would gain a few feet then he would dig back under the bank, looking for a place to hide. Slowly he began to give a little and I finally worked him over to a gravel bar where I reached under the most beautiful golden belly I've ever seen on a fish and lifted him from the water. Still holding him only in one hand, I tried to roll him over on his back to calm him down but he would have none of it. One final flip of the tail, the tippet snapped and he slid off my palm and back into the water. I was stunned! "You dummy, why didn't you get another net?" I truly wish I had a photo as he was prettier than any painting I've ever seen. Dark, dark olive brown with huge black spots, that yellow belly and a burnt orange tail. A solid 22" fish if not more. I don't even care that he was foul hooked, it was exciting. And, in the words of the immortal Rabunite Bill Kelly, "You don't have to believe me if you don't want to." But it did happen and now I'll dream of hooking into that fish again for a long time, or at least until I can get back over there and try for him again.


  1. Nice Jimmy!
    Bass Rex

  2. No picture = it didn't happen :)
    Nice catch, Jimmy!!