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.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Two fun days in Blue Ridge!

This past week, I had the pleasure of fishing with Mark from France. He is an outstanding fly fisherman at the young age of 13. On the first day, we floated the Toccoa. Mark brought several fish to the boat by casting Light Cahill dries with spot on presentations.

The second day, we fished Noontootla Creek Farm tossing big hoppers to big rainbows. Awesome action on terrestrials since July. Mark made some of the most impressive casts I've seen out of someone so young.

If you're interested in some hopper crunching action give us a call!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tie 1 On with Frog Hollow & Toccoa River Fishing Reports

To all fly tyers and want-to-be fly tyers. Our monthly fly tying session will be Tues. Sept 1 at Unicoi Outfitters in Helen at 6:30. Everyone is welcome and hey, its free. If you have a vise, bring it and any materials you have for a fly you want to learn how to tie or demonstrate how to tie. If you don't have any equipment, that's OK--we'll supply it. We tie simple fish catching flies that won't take you an hour to tie. The session is always fun and its a great time to talk with other fishermen who share the same interest. Hope to see you there.

And while I'm posting, I would like to mention a couple of trips I recently guided. Today I had a trip at Frog Hollow on the Chestatee and it fished good. My customer had 3 or 4 fish that broke us off and landed a 24" rainbow on a Brahma sparkle soft hackle.

Also, last Saturday I guided a trip on the Toccoa tailwater and it was the best trip I've had over there in a while. We brought over 2 dozen fish to the net--including at least a dozen tagged fish and we hooked several more. We hooked most of these fish on a Holy Grail and another fly I'd rather not mention.

Being able to fish and have good results like these during July and August is definitely a big change from this same time last year. By the way, the Holy Grail and Brahma soft hackle, along with the Evil Weevil are just a few of the flies we tie at our Tie 1 On sessions....hope to see you there!

Tie 1 On


Gold Rush Cup Fly Fishing Challenge at Frog Hollow

The Dahlonega, Georgia based Gold Rush Chapter of Trout Unlimited is holding its first "Gold Rush Cup" Fly Fishing Challenge on Saturday November 21. This is a promising fund-raiser for the chapter that could be a fund-raiser for the participant! It is a team tournament based on up to 10 2-man teams, so it pays to register early before the field fills up. For more info check out the Gold Rush website.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This Just In...

August 26, 2009 (FMS 0907) FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Forest Service Officials Announce Final Decision on Recreation Uses on the Upper Chattooga

Final alternative allows some new limited boating opportunities on the upper river

(Columbia, SC) August 26, 2009—After considerable analysis and public involvement, US Forest Service officials announced today a final decision on managing recreation uses on the upper Chattooga River and released the Environmental Assessment (EA) entitled Managing Recreation Uses on the Upper Chattooga. The final decision reflects Alternative 4 analyzed in the EA.

“A few minor changes were made to the preferred Alternative 4 released in July, 2008,” said Acting Forest Supervisor for the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests Monica Schwalbach. “However, the final decision still provides additional boating opportunities on the main stem Chattooga River above the Highway 28 bridge while continuing to emphasize, protect and enhance optimal, year-round, high-quality trout fishing. This decision minimizes user conflicts and also takes steps to reduce resource damage from existing and future recreation uses.”

Specifically, boating will be allowed from the confluence of Norton Mill Creek in North Carolina to Burrells Ford Bridge in South Carolina (not including the tributaries) between December 1 and March 1 when the river reaches approximate flow levels of 450 cfs or more at the Burrells Ford gauge. These flows are above those considered optimal for fishing and will produce approximately six boatable days in an average year. This stretch of river provides challenging, whitewater boating in a solitude setting and was rated the highest by boaters for creek boating.

The Forest Service decision also enhances the scenery Outstandingly Remarkable Value (ORV) by reducing the number and size of campsites and closing or rehabilitating user-created trails and campsites. It recognizes the value of large woody debris for aquatic habitat, prohibiting its removal to accommodate recreation in the upper reaches, and acknowledges the important role of tributaries in the restoration of the native brook trout. Additionally, guidelines are established for encounter limits for all uses, primarily to protect opportunities for solitude now and in the future.

The purpose of this new management direction is to ensure the continued enjoyment of the upper Chattooga by a variety of recreationists consistent with protecting and enhancing the river’s free flowing conditions, water quality and ORVs as required under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act,” said Schwalbach. “It also preserves the natural conditions, wilderness character, and ‘outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation’ within the Ellicott Rock Wilderness as required by the Wilderness Act.”

The agency intends to hold at least one public workshop on implementing the final decision in the fall. A separate announcement with more detailed information will be released in the near future.

A copy of the Decision Notice and EA will be available on the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests’ Web site at http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/fms where additional background information can be found.

Lanier Chapter of CCA Georgia Forming

We received info about this meeting to form a Lanier chapter of CCA Georgia and are planning on attending and thought some of our readers might likewise be interested. More info about the organization can be found on their website.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tallulah River - Fishing Great!

I just got a phone call from Jay Reed of Mt. Airy, GA. Jay reports that he's been spending a bit of time fishing the Tallulah lately and that the fishing's been great. His most recent trip was Sunday, and while the numbers weren't off the chart (not surprising after a weekend of pressure), he caught everything on dries and had a blast. Earlier in the month he had taken 7-year-old Jackson by the Burton hatchery, where they watched 4" trout chasing after flying dragonflies - great to know the instinct hasn't been bred out of the stockers!

And speaking of Jackson: he's not quite ready for the fly rod, but has discovered that the Tallulah is a great place to learn about trout fishing....hey, that's where I got my start!

Indeed, many folks don't think of the Tallulah when considering a spot to go fly fishing, but it's got tons going for it. They think it's either too crowded, or it's too small, not a DH stream, or just not "cool".

The truth is, the Tallulah is an awesome river to fish, and learn a lot about southern Appalachain trout fishing. It's not a DH stream because the water temps stay so low during the summer it is a true year-round trout fishery. So low in fact, it is one of the few streams in the state that get extra stockings in the summer when the other streams have gotten too hot to hold fish. Access is great, and while the stream does get a bit of bait-fishing pressure, there is plenty of stream to spread out on. The water is varied, from typical mountain stream pockets to long, slow glides. And there are a lot of truly large stream-raised holdover fish resident on the Tallulah...but they're not easy to catch.

Give it a try!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hot Fun In The Summertime!

This past Wednesday David Hulsey and I took Jake Moran to Noontootla Creek Farm to give him an idea of the variety of great outdoor activities available there. Jake is the Property Manager with Achasta Community near Dahlongega which has about two miles of the Chestatee River flowing right through the middle of it. Unicoi Outfitters is working with Achasta to develop a series of outdoor adventure type activities for their residents and guests that will include flyfishing classes, guided fishing trips, sporting clays and quail hunts.

The rains we've had this summer have been a true blessing for trout fishing in north Georgia and, while stream levels are low compared with fall, winter and spring flows, the early morning water temperatures are holding steady in the low to mid 60's. The exciting aspect of fishing in August is the opportunity to catch rising fish on big hopper patterns. There's not a much more exciting visual fishing experience than watching a huge rainbow swirl on a hopper, particularly when most of the rivers at this time of year are only fishing well with size 20 and 22 midges. Man, you can SEE a hopper out there! As you can see from the photos, Jake had a good morning at The Farm.

We had a fantastic lunch at nearby VanZandt's Store. If you've fished the Toccoa River in the Dial community area, you're familiar with VanZandt's. It's actually been in business since 1834, long before the area was a playground for trout anglers, canoeists, hikers and bicycle riders. Manager, Greg Johnson has totally renovated the interior of the old store and offers up some rib-sticking meals with excellent chicken salad, stuffed baked potatoes and homemade pies. Take it from an expert, his chocolate pie will make your eyes light up and your tummy say howdy! When the Delayed Harvest season kicks off on November 1st, treat yourself to lunch at VanZandt's Store. Greg is also an accomplished fly fisherman and even has a few leaders, tippet spools and flies in stock just in case you find yourself on-stream without them.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Emerging Dragonfly at NCF

I wanted to share this picture David took of an emerging dragonfly at Noontootla Creek Farm.
Bug life is great at NCF. You will even find the occasional water penny there.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sage Rods on Sale - Xi2 & Launch 30% Off

Unicoi Outfitters is offering 30% off list price on all Sage Xi2 and Launch Series rods while supplies last.

The Xi2 Series
is a great saltwater rod. Built with Sage's innovative Generation 5 (G5) Technology, Xi2 rods feel lighter and livelier than other saltwater rods. The Modulus Positioning System (MPS) that they developed for these rods provides a startling level of "line feel" throughout the casting stroke. This enhanced ability to feel the rod load allows you to apply power more efficiently. I fish one of these in a 9 weight, and it's truly a great rod!

The Launch Series of rods are great for those just starting out in our sport - or just looking for a good rod at a good price. Developing G5 Technology clearly demonstrated that the key to better casting is the ability to feel the rod load. With the Launch Series rods, Sage applied what they had learned to create a smooth, progressive power curve and an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio. This means Launch Series rods provide exceptional line connection or feel, allowing anglers to cast better and more easily.

Don't miss your chance to own Sage quality at a discounted price - available at both our Helen and Blue Ridge shops.

A not so great Tuckasegee trip

Well, I had to settle a curiosity that had been bothering me all summer about one of my favorite tail water rivers. And despite people telling me that it is not worth fishing, like the legend of Wooly Swamp, I just had to find out for myself.

So my brother and I headed up to Webster, NC to spend the day prospecting on the Tuckasegee DH section. We launched the boat around 8:00am with at least 8 rods rigged up with everything from pencil poppers for bass to small nymph dropper rigs for trout. Now my drift boat has been known to resemble a battleship with all the rods sticking out of it, and Saturday was no exception. We fished hard and with reckless abandon for our own health and well being, but at the end of day, we were broken and longing for Monte Alban's Mexican Restaurant there in Franklin. We did catch a few trout but did not see or catch any bass. Its a shame too because there is so much good water on that section.

Most interesting observation was the water temperature. I realize that there is a long distance between the DH section and the two separate powerhouses that release water down the Tuckasegee, but knowing what I know about Hydrology, I was a little surprised. At 8:00am with the East Fork running 500cfs, the water temp was 62F. Which I thought was a little warm for that time of day. The release stopped around 1:00pm and by 6:00pm the water temp was up to 68F. On days that there is no generation, I could easily see the temps in that section hitting +70F.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Irishman and the river!

I Floated the Toccoa River on Friday with Patrick who hails from Killarney, Ireland and has been a citizen of the U.S. and a resident of Michigan for a number of years. We had to work around the early generation schedule and decided to split the trip up into two short floats. One in the morning and one that evening to see if we could get after some of the bigger fish that have been a little elusive the past few weeks and seem to be a little more active at dusk. The morning float went well. The section we floated was a little slow, but we caught a good number of fish. I think we boated at minimum a dozen fish; maybe 15-17 before the water caught us and ended the morning session. Everything took small dries without a dropper. It seemed like every other rising fish we spotted at least took a swipe at our fly, but there were several “lookers” that would just rise up and watch it float by. But there were not a lot of rising fish to mention. The weather was great and the company was even better.
The night session was a different story as far as the weather was concerned. We set sail at 6:30pm from the dam as the water receded and promptly ran into a thunder storm before we made it down to the City of Blue Ridge water intake. Apparently the 20% chance of scattered thunderstorms was sitting over the Tammen Park area! Patrick managed to turn a couple of NICE fish after the storms moved out, but they proved to be hard to hold on to. Patrick added a few more fish to the days catch before the darkness and the fog set in. All -n- all it was a good day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Connecticut Fishermen Come South!

Hello all,

Had a wonderful 2 days of fishing with a father/son combo team Ben and Neil from Connecticut on Monday and Tuesday. Monday we floated the Toccoa River putting in at the base of the dam and floating downstream a few miles to one of our take-out points. The fishing was GREAT to say the least. Fished a half-day trip and easily brought 40+ fish to the boat by the time the water generation caught us around 2:00pm. The bigger fish were not real cooperative, but we did manage a few fish in the 14-16" range. Monday was the 5th time I've floated the Toccoa in the last 5 weeks and I have had some stellar trips. You've got to work a little harder, but considering it is August and historically the fishing slows down, I've been trucking right along. Plus I have a couple of tricks in my Ju-Ju bag that have been helping!

Tuesday Neil decided that 5:00am was a little early in the morning for a 14 year old still on summer vacation to be out and about, so Ben and I headed out to get on the water at Noontootla Creek Farms at first light for a morning half day fishing trip. Even at 6:00am, you could hear big fish busting bugs on the surface. Within a few casts Ben was fighting his first 16" trout. We steadily caught fish all morning including one 28-30" Rainbow that rolled on Ben's fly for what seemed like an eternity before he finally sucked it down! "These fish are just like the steelheads I fish for back home", Ben kept repeating after each vicious hook-up and reel-spinning fight. Fortunately, the increased rain this summer has allowed the Noontootla to continue fishing well late into this summer. Had a great two days. Pictures to follow as soon as Ben can send them to me.

J Byrd