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.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best Georgia Trout Fishing Now!

There isn't a trout angler in Georgia who isn't at least a little frustrated over the high water conditions found on most of our year round streams this past fall and even now as we approach 2010. Since we made a covenant pact to never complain about the rain ever again after the past several years of drought, we'll just tell you where the best fishing still can be found and, looking at the weather forecast, may remain so for the next week or so.

First, we want to unabashedly tell you that our private waters at Nacoochee Bend and Mountaintown Creek are as hot as a firecracker at the moment. We're not only catching fish, we're catching some big fish at these venues. Now, don't ask us how they survived the past two summers, but Nacoochee Bend has given up some huge rainbows in the 2 foot range recently. Another interesting twist at Nacoochee Bend can be found in the mill pond just upstream of the Nora Mill dam. In this slack water, which is too deep to wade, there are some big, dumb fish. It's perfect for pulling big streamers through but only if you can make long roll casts from the bank with big flies. The reward is big fish. If you're comfortable with this kind of fishing, you should give it a try. And, since we've had such positive repsonse to our $90.00 half day, $140.00 full day Nacoochee Bend offerings, we've decided to continue it for a little longer. Remember, you don't have to purchase a trip and take it right away. If you purchase one of these gift certificates, you may make the trip any time you like.

Now, on to the public waters which are fishing well. Let's see, the Chattooga is too high, the Toccoa DH is too high, the Toccoa tailwater is pumping like crazy and the Chattahoochee below Buford Dam is unfishable most of the time lately. So where are the best streams? Smith Creek DH and Dukes Creek at Smithgall Woods. For Smith Creek, yes, it's been getting a good bit of pressure over the holidays but no one is complaining about the quality of the fishing and the size of the fish. Smith Creek is more fun to fish right now than it has been since it was first designated a Delayed Harvest stream. There are plenty of fish, both rainbows and browns, in the 12" to 16" range. Put plenty of split shot on and dredge the pools and runs for a day of fun. Don't forget to check with us to see which flies are working up there. This past weekend it was flame red San Juan worms, Rainbow Prince, Purple Streak Flies and orange soft hackles.

Dukes Creek has also been fishing well this past week. The favorite rigs have been something big like a #8 Whitlock's Helgrammite with a soft hackle or a black Zebra Midge dropper. Remember, the water may be up on Dukes but it's also very clear so you'll have to be looking for fish as you approach the pools. Again, as at Smith and Nacoochee Bend, get your fly down in front of the fish. In this cold weather, the trout won't be likely to move very far to look at your fly. Hit them on the nose for the best shot at success.

A couple of other suggestions for a half or full day of fishing. The public section of the Soque River. This time of year, you won't find many bait fishermen there but you will find some real hogs in there. Some of our guides have recently landed browns in the 20" plus range up there. Easy access, no check-in, big fish. And finally we want to recommend the upper Tallulah River near Tate City. There are miles of water here and not many anglers this time of year. Some of the most fun winter fishing we've had has been on this small river in the winter. We're not sure if it's the fishing or just the environment that attracts us to the Tallulah. This isn't the same stream that is wall to wall campers and worm fishermen during the summer. It's plunge pool after plunge pool of crystal clear water where you can spot a nine inch trout finning at the bottom of a twelve foot deep hole. Bring your long leaders, your split shot and your polarized glasses and give it a try.

"Back the Brookie" Recognized in Trout Magazine

Georgia’s Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture (EBTJV)/GA TU Back-the-Brookie was recognized in Trout Unlimited's Winter 2010 TROUT Magazine Actionline!

More Money,
More Restoration
G e o r g i a
For brook trout in Georgia waters, more habitat improvements are on the way, thanks to $25,000 in recent funding through the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture. Georgia TU, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service are planning restoration work on 10 stream miles, including stretches on Big Net Creek, Upper Chattahoochee River, North and South Fork Moccasin Creek, Flat Branch, Tate Branch and Walnut Fork Creek. In past work, volunteers and partners conducted genetic sampling, removed non-native trout, tested water quality, mapped, “drought-proofed” streams by creating deeper pools, and constructed barriers to keep native brook trout populations sequestered from invasive fish. The new efforts will expand on previous work—which has been funded by Embrace-A-Stream and Georgia Power Foundation grants—to restore brook trout populations in the southernmost part of their native range.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hartwell Stripes Dec 27.2009

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Today I went out with Rex Gudgel. We stayed out all day fighting the very windy conditions, determined to find hungry fish. Needless to say, it was tough: high winds, bluebird skies - standard post-front conditions. The water temp has dropped to 50 and the fish have gone north, most of which had lock-jaw today. We did make 4 fish eat: boated 2, broke one off and missed one. If you are looking for a great way to end the year, this would be a good choice. Most fish we are catching run from 9-15 lbs. Intermediate and sinking lines are the choice right now. As you can see in the pics it was freezing, my face looks like I went snow skiing for a week from wind burn.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Time's A-Coming!

Bill Monroe said it best!

Don't forget that Unicoi Outfitters sells gift certificates online for that last-minute stocking stuffer!  We offer certificates for guided fishing and merchandise.  Just go to our website and click on the Gift Certificates page.  We normally send these out via the US Postal Service, so allow for a couple days travel time in the mail.  If you're up against a time crunch (say, after the 21st, when you order, send us an email at flyfish@unicoioutfitters.com and we'll email you a certificate you can print out...but don't wait too late - we've got to do some Christmas shopping too!  ;-)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hartwell Stripers - December 12

Today we faught the cold temps and ventured out in seek of stripes on the coldest day of the year. Gary Sundin was on board this morning as we went out bundled up with all the clothes we could wear. Fishing on top was slow due to the drastic change in weather over the last 24 hrs. We were able to catch a few fish on top before we went to the sinking lines to probe the cold abyss. It took a while to find fish we could reach, but when we did boy were they hot. Hooked up right off the bat. We set our drift and on every pass we would get one one. Kudos to Gary with the big fish of the day- a 12lb striper. The largest hybrid of the day went close to 8lbs. It was a great morning, and really enjoyed the company, but man am glad to be sitting in front of the fire thawing out.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Amicalola and Smith Creeks Delayed Harvest Reports and Tips

We just received a fishing report from Dredger's recent trip to Smith Creek that resulted in a "good handful" of both browns and rainbows. The recent rains and subsequent flows mean plenty of habitat and underexploited fish in riffles and runs.

Got Pheasant Tails? The November stockers are getting smarter and are moving less as the water temp drops. The December stockers (Amicalola last week and Smith this week) are naive and will eat Y2K bugs. In the spring, pull out your Adams and caddis dries, on the hook bend tie a four foot dropper down to a #6 shot and a Prince nymph, and fish those same spots for more active fish who will "look up" too, in warmer water when bugs hatch.

Tip: At the Amicalola DH at Highway 53, fish it like it's five Smith Creeks running parallel. Fish each one and then move across the ledge until you're in the adjacent Smith Creek. By fishing across the Ami before fishing upstream, you might catch a few more with your short-line techniques in each current seam and pocket of slow water among all the fast chutes.

And on those big pools and deep runs above you at the fishing piers, be ready for 10-15 feet of leader and lots more weight if you're serious about digging fish outta those holes.... Tough casting and tough fishing, but good catching.

Always remember to change your weight and depth of indicator as needed with each new pool, run, or riffle. I change those before I change flies. That's why I use removable shot and easy-sliding indicators.

There is no one "right way" of fishing, but this has worked for me and I hope it helps ya'll.

Biologist Nick went to the Amicalola DH at Highway 53 and fished the ledges for a few hours Saturday. He said he watched four other anglers "fish over" the fish and then leave. But, after an adjustment, he had a good day.

He started with some split shot in front of a leech with an egg dropper and had no luck. Seems that the egg was too far away from weight and was floating too high in the water column. As soon as he put a small shot between the flies, too, he started catching rainbows. The theme is that the cold water now has fish hunkered right down on the bottom. Anglers have to get down to them and also have to detect more subtle strikes. Hopefully Nick's tips will help a few more anglers to enjoy some winter trouting success.

Both Amicalola and Smith Creek DH's offer some good opportunities to metro anglers willing to drive a bit farther north than their normal Hooch tailwater destinations.

Economic Impact of Recreational Fish Production

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has produced a special issue of "Eddies" - a magazine that seeks to inform its readers of the work – past, present, and future – of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Division of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Conservation.

Of note in the Special Issue 2009 is a mention of the economic impact of recreational fish production, particularly in the southeast US:

"Recreational fish production fuels a powerful economic engine.
Recreational use of hatchery-stocked fish generates significant
economic effects. Federal hatcheries in Arkansas, Florida,
Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina,
Tennessee, and Louisiana annually stock a total 22.3 million fish
of 15 game species in 12 states. In 2005, this generated over 3.2
million angler-days of fishing, $239 million in total economic output,
and 3,100 jobs with incomes totaling $63 million, and $14.0 million
in state and federal taxes. This economic fuel was generated by
spending less than $5 million in budget allocations to produce and
stock these fish. This translates to an economic benefit of $48
for every $1 of taxpayer money spent on National Fish Hatchery
recreational fish production in the Southeast Region."

You may read this, and other issues of "Eddies" on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife website.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Giving Thanks

Good food, spending time with family and friends, and fantastic fishing - what a great Thanksgiving week.

I really enjoy fishing with kids, and I had several opportunities to do that during Thanksgiving. Jay Corte from Alabama had fished with me back in the summer on the Toccoa tailwaters and caught several fish. He wanted to fish NCF for larger fish and you can see from the pictures above, he caught those too. His Dad was along to take pictures and he did a lot of that because Jay caught a lot of nice fish.

The pictures above left are Rick McKibben and his sons, Jay and Ross. Neither of the boys had ever been fly fishing for trout. They caught on fast and were hooking and landing big rainbows in a short time at Frog Hollow. Sorry Dad, but I believe the boys caught the biggest fish. What a great family to spend time with on the river .

The picture to the right is Robert Schultz on his first fly fishing trip - pretty good for a beginner, huh? We fished at NCF and I think he landed 5 nice fish before he lost one. Well, he said his nickname was "lucky" - in fishing, that counts a lot. Robert really got into the fishing and I believe he enjoyed it almost as much as I did. I think he may be "hooked" for life.

And these last 2 fish were hooked on Thomas and Thomas rods. No, not the brand name, but on rods belonging to Thomas (me) and Thomas (my son Kevin). This is the other "kid" I enjoy taking fishing - we've been doing it for a long time. Spending an afternoon together fishing River North was really something

Thanks to Jay Corte and his Dad for fishing with me again, to Rick and his sons Jay and Ross,for sharing this special family time with me, to Robert for his enthusiasm, and to my son Kevin for spending time fishing with his "old man". And thanks to the folks at Unicoi and to Eddie for allowing memories like this to happen.



Friday, December 4, 2009

Flyfish Argentina with Unicoi Outfitters and Andes Drifters

For the first time we are offering to our customers an opportunity to experience the awesome trout fishing of Argentina through our association with Andes Drifters. The unusual thing about these trips is your ability to tailor the trip to your own desires and the options you have for yourself as well as a non-fishing traveling companion.

Andes Drifters specializes in providing over 100 alternative activities in addition to world class trout fishing. From eco-adventures to cultural events to art and culinary classes, there is something here for every traveler. And the cost for the trips are up to 25% less than comparable offerings from other fly fishing destinations in Argentina. Gourmet meals prepared by your own private chef simply top off this great excursion.

As we write this, Unicoi Outfitters has been given the opportunity to book the best session of their season, January 23rd - 30th. Cost of the trip is $3,250 not including air fare and gratuity. Everything else, food and beverages (alcohol and non-alcohol), flies and guide fees are covered. For the non-angler who may want to travel with you, the cost is only $2,600 plus air fare.  We are also able to book other weeks as well.  For more information, please drop us a line at flyfish@unicoioutfitters.com.

Ross Reels on Discovery Science Channel's "How It's Made"

Hey, we just found out that our friends at Ross Reels will be on an episode of "How It's Made" on the Discovery Science Channel tonight at 9pm.  This show is frequently re-run on the Science Channel and the Discovery Channel, so if you can't watch tonight, be on the lookout!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Next Generation

In a world filled with computers, video games and tv sometimes its hard to drag kids outside and get them interested in fishing or anything else for that matter. Here is an exception for you. Riley is 11 years old, and obsessed with fishing. I could tell months ago when he first came into the shop, he would quietly walk back and forth looking at everything, you could see the gears spinning. He absorbs everything and has picked up fly fishing as fast as anyone that I have ever seen, and I mean anyone. After a couple of trips on the Toccoa his last visit he was well on his way to figuring this mess out. He and his family were up from Florida for Thanksgiving, and was antsy to fish but could not because of the generation on the Toccoa. That led us to one thing, THE FARM. Anyone that has fished the Farm knows that sometimes those fish will send even the most experienced anglers to the house with a "One that got away story". I told you that this kid could fish, so I will just let the pictures prove it. Don't mistake, he made the casts, he set the hook, he played the fish and got them to the net.