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, April 30, 2010

Lake Lanier Record Spot

We just received this Lake Lanier report from Henry Cowen:

JUST GOTTA GO!!!! The fishing was pretty consistent this week. Some days showed a few stripers with plenty of bass and other days showed a decent amount of stripers and plenty of bass. Striper fishing is getting better every day. Top water began this past week. For fly anglers it is important to throw a fairly big fly on top as the fish are eating gizzard shad on the surface. Overcast days are best but even sunny days has fish feeding on top for the first 2-3 hours in the morning. There is also a top water bite at sunset. For non fly anglers throwing redfins and walk-the-dog type baits will work. Just starting to see fish busting bait on the sirface. Best bet is to fish as many points as possible. North and south lake are working but I think north is somewhat stronger. We had stripers to 14 lbs this week while I saw fish caught up to 22 lbs on top water artificials.
For just putting fish in the boat anglers should toss an intermediate line and a coyote or a Clouser w/15 lb tippet. 12 lb is even better but may mean a few more bites but probably some lost fish. The springtime fish are fighting incredibly well. Lots of big spotted bass being caught daily. Gary Lowe of Kennesaw, GA caught and released another (his 2nd) IGFA world record (8 lb tippet) spotted bass on the fly. Fish weighed in @ 5 1/2 lbs crushing the old record by just under 2 lbs. Way to go Gary!!!!!! Early May has some dates open while Mid-May is booked fairly solid…..see you on the pond! HC

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Just Another Ho-Hum Day at Dukes Creek

Our friend Mark Whitney fished Dukes this past Sunday and reminds us why we like to fish after a good rainfall:

I must have woken up a dozen times during all the rain on Saturday night.  Foremost in my mind was my reservation at Dukes Creek for the next morning.  I get to fish Dukes a lot and I go whether it’s rain or shine.  Conventional wisdom is that Dukes is best in the rain, so imagine my disappointment early Sunday morning when the rain was nowhere to be seen.  No matter!  It had rained about 3 inches so I figured there was plenty of water still in the creek and if I got lucky, there’d be plenty of color too.  I left early to make the grueling 12 minute ride to Smithgall Woods, hoping to beat the urban hordes that were sure to be barreling out of Atlanta beating a steady path to my favorite piece of water.  When I crossed the Chattahoochee at 75 Alternate my heart lept at the sight of muddy rushing water.  I knew this to be good news!

Sure enough, when I got to Smithgall at 6:55, there was already someone heading to the office to check in.  I moseyed in and made some polite conversation while I got signed in and then headed to the parking lot with my game plan already formulating in my tiny brain.  I got set up with a #10 pink San Juan Worm with a #18 rainbow warrior trailing about 14 inches behind and decided to try the culvert hole while I waited on the van to leave.  My plan was to start at the bottom of Section 4 and work my way back toward the parking lot.  A plan that was soon to be foiled.

When I got to the culvert hole I honestly thought I may have underestimated the amount of water that had fallen overnight because there was a whole lot more running in the creek than I expected.  And boy did it have color!  I crossed the creek on the road and came down to fish from the far side.  I added another couple of Dinsmores to my line,  moved my indicator to the top of the leader, held my breath, said a short prayer and flung that joker (no I don’t cast well) up to the culvert opening, luckily getting it in the seam I was looking at.  I didn’t have to worry about drag free because the water was moving faster than the roar it was making.  With only 4 No. 1 Dinsmores on, my flies never saw bottom even though they were 2/3s of the way through the culvert hole.

None of that seemed to matter.  My indicator jogged right, I set the hook and on my first cast of the morning…Fish ON!!!  Suddenly, I had an audience as a minivan coming down the road stopped to see what I had snagged in the creek.  That fish put up a good fight, but I prevailed with my first fish of the morning….. a 15” rainbow resting comfortably in the bottom of my net.  I caught 2 more rainbows in the next 4 casts and then something grabbed hold on my next cast and broke me off.  It was then I found out I left all my flies in the parking lot.  I checked my watch and it was 7:47 AM.  The van wasn’t even warming up in the parking lot yet and I had 3 fish to the net.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

I walked back to the parking lot, picked up my fly box and headed back to the culvert where I caught 2 more fish and decided I was just going to stay on Section 1.  To make a long story short, I landed 9, lost 6 including 3 that broke me off and missed a couple more.  All but 2 of those fish took the rainbow warrior and all of them put up good fights, many giving aerobatic displays.  The first fish was my longest for the day though I had one about 17” go airborne twice before breaking me off on a root in a hole next to the bank at the Swimming Hole.

I was the only one on Section 1 Sunday morning.  I finished fishing at the cable crossing at exactly 11:30 AM.  It was great day of fishing without a drop of rain in the sky.  Once again, Dukes proved to me to be the best water within a 15 minute drive from the house.  I hate it for all the folks who had reservations but didn’t come because of all the rain the night before.  Next time, forget the weather and enjoy one of the streams that makes north Georgia a year-round flyfishing mecca.  Hope to see you on the water some time.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Just like to say thanks to all those who attended our fly tying session in April--it was great.

We had about a dozen folks at the vise which was a good turn out. Thanks to Robert for bringing some of his guests and to first timers Robert and Julie Rivers--they all tied good looking flies.

A special thanks goes to Joel for leading us in tying one of his favorite flies and to Scott Abernathy for dazzling us with his fly tying magic--thanks for all the tips, Scott.

We will meet in May on the 1st Tues as we normally do--that date will be May 4th at 6:30 PM.

This month Robert and Cole will show us how to tie one of their favorites--sure fish magnets--I can't wait. If either of you need supplies for your flies, let me know, and I will bring them.

Remember, this session is open to all--from beginners to old pros, and we always have fun at the vise--hope to see you at the shop.



David Cannon's "Fly Fishing Georgia" Brings Home Award

We've known it was a great book since Jimmy had a chance to review a pre-release copy while writing the foreword, but now it's official! David Cannon's first book "Fly Fishing Georgia, A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters" was awarded First Place in the Excellence in Craft Competition by the Georgia Outdoor Writers Association this past weekend. As we've mentioned here before, the book is a detailed guide to cold-, warm-, and salt-water flyfishing all over the state and includes photography by David and Stephanie Cannon and Chad McClure, along with illustrations by Tom Landreth, Bucky Bowles, Paul Puckett, and Patsy Lewis Gentry. In our opinion it's the best Georgia guidebook since Jimmy Jacobs' "Trout Fishing in North Georgia". We carry the book in both stores, and if you haven't purchased a copy, highly recommend you do so!

Congratulations David!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Behind the Scenes with the Nuts & Bolts Crew

David Mitchell loaned me his still camera to play with while they shot the show, here are a few of the photos I got:

A star is born!

Rex teaching the Unicoi Outfitters way

In the net!


Grip, grin, and release

Behind the scenes

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nuts & Bolts Filming at Nacoochee Bend

Cefus McRae and David Mitchell joined Rex Gudgel at the Bend yesterday to film an upcoming episode of Nuts & Bolts of Fishing & Boating. Here they are working with Rex Gudgel, who had the hard job of fishing while the filming was going on!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Just a reminder that our fly tying session will be this Tues (April 20) at 6:30 PM at the Unicoi shop in Helen--anyone interested in tying their own flies is welcome. We have a lot of fun and even learn something occasionally. Hope to see you there.

Which fly that you fish with is your favorite?--the one in the picture may be mine. Bring yours and we'll learn how to tie it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Unicoi Blue Ridge Shop Floats the Toccoa River Tailwater for Rainbows & Browns

This past Monday Chad and Arte floated the Toccoa River Tailwater. Arte was able to land this beautiful massive brown trout on a sunny day. Chad said the fish were really biting. And, they had caught several rainbows during their float too.

After drooling over Arte's brownie, we decided it was time for us to hit the river. David and I wanted to test Chad's new flies. Chad is a new Umpqua Feather Merchant tier. Checkout his SCUBA fly. Chad has spent tons of time on the river designing and testing his flies. The second fly is called the Backpacker PT. It is another killer fly.

David, Chad, and I had a great time on the river. We were able to catch and release several large rainbows during on float. I was able to land this rainbow on Chad's SCUBA fly.

David mostly stripped streamers.
We did notice several March Brown mayflies hatching along the river. However, the fish seemed to be more keyed into nymphs and streamers. Also, we had to use some split shot to get the flies down. All in all, it was just a great day to enjoy floating the river and fishing with friends.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A "Darling" Day at Dukes

Wednesday Guide Report by Jake Darling

It's spring and every place in north Georgia is fishing well but Dukes Creek has been a lot of fun lately. Bob and Tom Fleenor were staying at Smithgall Woods this week and asked that I guide them on Dukes on Wednesday. I met them at the Smithgall Cottage (don't we all wish we had a little mountain cottage like this one!) and, while we could have fished that upper section, I decided to take them down to section 3... and am I glad we did. We brought a dozen or more fish to the net before lunch, one of which was a beautiful 22 inch rainbow. This fish tried every trick in the book to get away but after what seemed like a 30 minute fight we managed to land her. To say the least, Tom and I were both excited because this is a trophy regardless of where you fish and a real challenge to catch on Dukes Creek.

After lunch, we hit section 1 near the Visitor Center. When we stepped into the river, I told Tom that something exciting was about to happen because I had left my camera in the truck after we ate. At least, that's the way it usually works. Sure enough, Tom made one cast and it was, "Fish on". After a good job of fighting the fish, Tom had an 18" rainbow in his hands and I had no camera. We agreed that I would testify that he had caught the fish, even though I am a charter member of the Liars Club.

We released the rainbow and two casts later he was tied into another fish. This one did nothing but hug the bottom and I told Tom that it was acting like a big brown. Then we caught a glimpse of him and knew for sure that it was a healthy Dukes Creek brown. As he was fighting the fish, we decided that this fish would be worthy of a picture if we could land it so I took off in a sprint to the truck. It seemed like a 5K race to the parking lot and back but I returned with the camera, took the picture and we let old brownie slide back into the creek. He was in great shape. I, on the other hand, spent the next 30 minutes trying to catch my breath. It was a great day on the water with some great guys. The fishing and the memories made were as good as it gets.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Unicoi Kid's Fishing Day

Just wanted to say a quick thanks for now to all those who helped and participated in Unicoi's Kids Fishing Day--it was really good. Thanks to Unicoi Outfitters and their guides, Foothills TU and all the other TU members, NGTO, to all the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and anyone else who brought the kids, and especially to all the kids for all the big smiles on their faces. It's always fun to wade in the water and maybe even hook a fish.
Thanks again
Pictures will follow.