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 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.


  1. Congrats guys! We fished section 3 on Wednesday too and pulled in 15! Great day!

  2. Well, there are two fibs on this post that I can see. :) First, that rainbow was at least 24". Second, in section one, I didn't really catch a trout on my first cast, it was on the third (the brown was two casts later). Jake, my father and I want to thank you for a wonderful day of fishing. We could not have asked for a more knowledgeable guide. To Jake's boss, give this man a raise. To everyone else, I can highly recommend Jake Darling, great conversation, great fishing, and great memories.


    Tom Fleenor

    P.S. I measured the fish by measuring your hand in the picture, then compared that to the measurement of the fish. If your hand is about 3.5 inches wide across the knuckles, the fish is exactly 7 times as long as your hand, which would make it 24.5 inches. Either way, it was a monster.