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, January 29, 2010


Our fly tying group will meet this Tues Feb 2 at Unicoi Outfitters at 6:30 PM. I hope to see a large group at this session. Thanks to all of you who attend on a regular basis--ask a friend who might want to learn to tie to come with you this Tues. I hope that a couple of folks I've asked will be there. Maybe they can show us how to tie their favorite fly.

We'll tie Rob's realistic caddis this session--the one in the picture. Blue Wing Olives and March Browns will be on the menu also, plus any secret fly that anyone attending the session might want to show us how to tie.

I think this thing is going to grow--lets start this week.



Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Well, we're all here in San Martin, Argentina with three days of fishing under out belts and we've just finished off the evening meal of world famous Argentine beef and Malbec wine topped off by a lemon pie (sort of an ice cream really) encrusted in white chocolate and drizzled in a rasberry compote topped with a fresh freca julienned.

How's that for starting out a fishing report?
The four of us, Paul Vogt, Robert Cain, John McGarity and myself are just stunned by the hospitality of our Andes Drifters hosts and staff as well as the quality of the fishing.

And, the fishing has been awesome. The weather is the best we could have asked for (mid 80's during the day and low 50's at night. We sleep with the windows wide open. They have no screens but there are no bugs here to worry about. Our day begins at 7:30 AM with breakfast and by 8:30 we are on the road to whichever river we're fishing that day. Our first two days of fishing were an overnite trip on the Chemihuin (Chemmi When) and Collon Cura (Koshon Cura) Rivers. We did about 14 miles each day. Man, am I glad I'm not a fishing guide here where you have to row a raft that many miles each day.

Today (Tuesday) we waded the Malleo (Ma Sha O) with the intention of casting dry flies to rising fish but the wind and water levels were both too high to strictly fish on top. We caught some big fish on dries but it was pretty technical so when the guide asked if I would like to try a nymph, I, of course, jumped on the opportunity. In the next 20 minutes, I landed 5 or 6 huge rainbows. OK, I'm rollin' now; it's just like home, only better. The Dredger would have been proud.

Tomorrow we head out for another overnight float trip before ending the week,hopefully, fishing for big browns that are following minnows up the river from the lake. The overnight trips are a lot of fun (& this comes from a total non-camper). I'll try to give you another update before we begin the trek home on Saturday.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lanier Striper Report 1/21/10

This just in from our ol' buddy Henry Cowen:

Okay so the big chill is hopefully gone. The past 12 days has been a tough go as I have continued to find the fish BUT the cold weather has got them lounging as tree potatoes. Yep…….most of the fish are just being lazy fat and not so happy (kind of lethargic) just hanging in the tree tops. I had a few decent days of a couple of fish caught but for the most part the past 12 days has been a stinker! Finally on Tuesday the fish decided to play fair again. The key is to find the warmer water……..Normal January temps for Lanier’s surface is 45-46 degrees. Most of the creeks we found the fish in were 41-43 degrees and that just won’t cut the mustard. Found some 45 degree temps yesterday further south and got some of our striped friends to eat feathers. Today I sent Unicoi Outfitters trout guide and casting guru Rex Gudgel to some of my holes with warmer water and he nailed 7 stripers from 10-16 lbs on small grey and white Clousers. It sooooo nice when a plan comes together. He found the warm water and the fish were waiting for his offerings. Nice going Rex! Now keep where I sent you a secret……. I am off the water now until Tuesday Jan 26th as I will be up in Somerset, NJ doing a bunch of salt & fresh water presentations in the motherland. Somerset is the BEST fly show in the USA. Will report back by end of next week. See you on the pond!  

Friday, January 15, 2010

Now Is The Time

Here we are in the middle of an artic blast that has the water on the Chattahoochee down to 32-33 degrees, so you can't really expect to catch any trout right now, right?

Well on Sunday Jan 10th, I took Bill and Mary Davis from Decatur and their friend Anders Christensen from far away Copenhagen, Denmark out on a Gilligan Special. They had originally planned to fish with our Blue Ridge store but due to the ice and snow couldn't make it up so they came to the Helen store, where the Hooch had warmed up to a blistering 33 degrees when we got on at 11am.

The day before, I told them that I promised nothing but cold feet and the opportunity to stand in the river and cast a flyrod. Well to my surprise the monsters of Nacoochee Bend were on the feed! My first cast of the day to demonstrate the ways of fishing with an indicator resulted in a 20" bow taking the fly and Mary putting him in the net. I am always happy to see the first one in the net, it relieves some pressure. Wasting no time, both Anders (see photo) and Bill put 24-inchers in the net, both solid 8-9 pound fish. In just 3 short hours of fishing, in only a couple of pools, we hooked up 15 or more fish. Almost all the fish ate large Prince nymphs with a few falling to pink San Juans or Rainbow Warriors.

It might be cold and miserable to be outside but don't tell that to the fish, they are already cold but still hungry. Thanks to a wet summer and good management by Unicoi Outfitters, Nacoochee Bend has the most fish and the largest fish it has had in probably 4 years. Now is the time to come give it a try!

Monday, January 11, 2010

We're Headed To Argentina!

In just 11 days, the Unicoi Outfitters crew will be headed to Argentina for a week of fishing with Andes Drifters in the famous San Martin area of the Andes. While much of our excitement centers around experiencing world class trout fishing and the Argentine culture, we may be just as pumped about the fact that it is now SUMMER south of the equator. Our group will be departing Atlanta the evening of January 22nd and returning the morning of January 31st with seven days of dry fly fishing in between. We'll be arriving during the peak of the inchworm hatch which makes the big browns of the Alumine River stupid. Just what we're looking for, big, stupid brown trout! We will also be throwing hoppers at rainbows and browns on the Chimehuin and Malleo Rivers and, if the timing is right, we'll be fishing for big lake run trout taking floating minnow patterns on the Caleufu River. All in all, we're looking forward to good fishing, good company, good food and good wines all under the backdrop of the Andes Moutains.

We're still able to schedule more trips during February and March of this year. If you have any interest in going, please check our destination page on our website. We would love to help you experience this trip of a lifetime.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lanier Report - First Week of January

All I can say is Brrrrrr……..I got to fish New Years Day with a buddy and it was chilly and WINDY. Managed to get a couple of stripers in the 10-11 lb range on small Clousers. Fish are moving really fast and never saw a fish on top or in the back of a cove. Sinking lines are still the ticket and I would advise a 15 lb test tippet as the water chills and cools down. These fish get sluggish and going a bit lighter in tippet can make a difference. Since that day it has been impossible to fish. It is just too cold! I cancelled 4 trips since Jan 1st. Today was one of those RARE pre-frontal snowy thingamajigger days. Jim Harvey and Dennis Desmond called to see if I would take them out to play with our finned friends. Well they hit it right. At 2 pm the skies got dark, the winds increased, the temp felt like it dropped some, the birds started flying and the fish came alive. We had 8 or 9 eats today. We landed 3 spotted bass and 4 stripers. The smallest fish was probably 10-11 lbs. The largest was 15 lbs. Fish ate both Clousers and the somethin’ else…….Starting to find BIG schools of fish on the electronics. Man I love this time of year! See you on the pond! HC

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Desperate Times

We just got a report in from Jay Shelton, who was out fishing a few days back with Scott Wagner of Savannah Fly Fishing Charters in Savannah, Georgia.

I ended 2009 in an extreme fishing deficit and with a serious case of saltwater withdrawals.  Since I was planning to visit friends in the Savannah area for New Years, I just had to give myself a late Christmas present.  I contacted Captain Scott Wagner, who was enthusiastic about mid-day low tides, so we made a plan.  The bad news is that Mother Nature didn’t think much of our plan; the good news is that Scott had a back-up plan.  The weather forecast for Day 1 was cold with winds 6-8 knots out of the east – we got north winds up to 25 knots and heavy cloud cover.  That’s a “double-whammy” if you’re hoping to stalk red fish in skinny water, but Scott was undaunted.  He found some protected nooks around Hilton Head Island that were void of human life yet full of frisky reds.  The wind and clouds made spotting fish tough for me, but the view must have been far better from the polling platform because Scott gave me enough advanced warning to allow for adequate presentation without spooking fish.  Scott even allowed me to use my own hand-tied flies as long as I promised not to stick one in his head on my back cast.   
Day 2 conditions were less than ideal, but compared to the previous day they were sweet relief (only 3 layers of clothing instead of 5).  We were promised better weather, but when I met Scott at the boat ramp he was frowning.  The prediction of light south winds was again wrong, but Captain Wagner was able to make the best of moderate east winds and deliver as promised.  We found big schools of reds feeding on finger mullet, and small groups of reds tailing and waking. We even found a beast of a seatrout that gave quite a battle. 

All these fish were in extremely skinny water (sometimes less than 6 inches), but they were happy.  Most importantly, they ate my fly with great enthusiasm, putting an impressive bend in my 8-weight rod.  Any who have tried appreciate that the Georgia coast isn’t the easiest place to sight cast for fish on the fly.  Scott taught me a lot about the keys to success, and even showed me some places to try with my kayak.  I grew up fishing in south Louisiana, so this ain’t my first rodeo.  If you have any interest in saltwater fly fishing I encourage you to give Scott a call:

Captain Scott Wagner

Monday, January 4, 2010

So What?

This in from Rick Danger's January 3rd trip to Nacoochee Bend:

So what if it’s only 17 degrees, so what if the wind chill was 3, so what if everything on your rod freezes including the reel, so what if you can’t feel your fingers and toes:  when you hook and land your first fish on the third cast the rest is…well… irrelevant. This picture of me was on the 3rd cast 2nd weight/depth adjustment. The fish were hot and keying in on Soft Hackles, Prince Nymphs, and red and tan San Juan’s in the sunshine and pink in the darker pools.

I don’t know how many I hooked up and landed, I usually lose track after the first one, but I helped my two buddies catch and land around 10-12 each. The population of fish in those holes are outstanding and I was surprised how healthy they are, Great job managing that section.  Thanks again you guys we had a fantastic day on the Bend.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Tie 1 On

I want to wish everyone a great new year and I believe 2010 is definitely the year to "tie 1 on". So we're meeting Tues Jan 5th at the Unicoi shop in Helen to start the year out right. We will start at 6:30 PM and tie only patterns that catch fish--big ones. I hope to see all the regulars and anyone else who likes to tie and fish with their own flies. If you already tie, but want to tie better flies--this is a good place to improve your skills. Everyone is invited, from beginners to experts--it's a great place to learn, and we're always hunting teachers. Bring your vise and tools if you have them and any material for a special fly that you may want to tie. If you're just beginning, we can supply all the equipment for you.

We have a great time at our session--hope to see you there.