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.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Toccoa infects another with "the BUG"

Fly fishing seems to have this overwhelming ability to just consume the minds of the newly "hooked." Duane Miller has fallen victim to it. Duane and I met months ago in the shop. At that time, he was just reintroducing himself to fly fishing. He had learned to fish when he lived in Colorado and had enjoyed it as one of his pastimes, but it would soon become more than just a pastime. After talking to him several times as he would come into the shop, I knew that he would soon be in for it. I had been there (or I guess am there), where all you want to do is fish, that's it. It started with a tying class and he fell in love with that. One thing led to another and he decided to take a few trips to learn as much as possible about the area. We spent a day on the upper Toccoa and then with the recent weather, decided to hit the lower Toccoa. I guess that is where the real story begins.

Last Friday there was an early generation so we planned to be ready to push off when they turned the water off. We rode the high water down for the first little bit so the fishing was a little slow, but it would not be long. About the time the water settled out, Duane was in the groove. One of the first fish that we hooked was a fish that was pushing 20 inches but managed to shake the hook. Then just a few casts later, it was on. As soon as he set the hook, I saw the flash and I knew that this was the fish we were after. Catching any fish on a fly rod is a blast but when you see a fish like that, it's just a whole different deal. The fish made a couple of good runs out in the middle and then headed to a pile of logs on the bank. At this point, things seem to be in slow motion. We went after it and somehow it came back out of the mess a lot easier than I expected. Away it went on another run, this time to wrap a rock. At this point, as a guide, you are about to freak, you just want this fish in the net. Duane played the fish perfectly. We went after it again and the line came off the rock and the fish settled down for a second - just a second. It began thrashing not too far off the boat and in doing so, wrapped the leader around itself. I am thinking if we get away with this, it will be a miracle. The fish settled down and sure enough, the line came unwrapped and another run followed. I can't tell you how long all of this lasted because you just lose track of everything, you are just in another world. The fish finally settled down and decided to give in. When a fish like that hits the net, you just can't explain it. A few pictures and then the fish was back in the water. As we sent the fish on its way, we immediately started playing back the whole fight back between each other. I can still see it in my head. The day had started off with the highlight. In total, we hooked a number of decent fish and three really good ones during the day. The other two big fish managed to get away, but the day had already been made.

Needless to say, the Toccoa is fishing well right now and we can only expect that it will get better as the weather improves and we start to get more bugs out and about. We did see a good number of caddis out and had some fish come up after them. Just a good day on the water.

When I look back on it, what a way to spend the day. Duane has really become passionate about fishing in a short period of time and it was cool for me to be there to see it payoff. After this fish, I am afraid that we may have another that has caught "the BUG."


  1. Doing what I do, I see LOTS of fish pictures, but I have never seen one prettier than that Rainbow. This one will have to go into my reference files!
    Alan Folger

  2. Great Job Chad!!

    Joe DiPietro