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.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Simms Wader Rebate!

Here's a great trade-in program Simms is running, just in time for the fall/winter trout season here in Georgia!

The rebate is good for $50 off a pair of Simms G3/G4 waders or $25 off a pair of Headwaters waders. The promotion runs from September 1, 2010 until October 31, 2010 and works like this:

  • Go to Simms website to sign up for a wader rebate voucher
  • Print the voucher
  • Bring in a trade-in pair of breathable waders along with the voucher to either the Helen or Blue Ridge shops
  • Purchase a pair of G3/G4 or Headwaters waders and receive the rebate at the store.

If you've got any questions, just give either store a call, but don't miss out on a chance to get cash off a great pair of Simms waders.

Groundhog Day

The fall version...

Every year about this time, in the dog days of summer, just when we think we can't take the heat any more, the rains come.

Here's a shot at Nora Mill on the Chattahoochee of a recent rainstorm...cooler water - and good fishing - is definitely just around the corner!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oyster Bamboo Rod Class

I just completed the six day split class at Bill Oysters' Bamboo Rod Shop and I wish I were going in for another six. The class was an absolute blast! I can't believe we all completed our rods right on time. It seemed like there were a hundred things that could have gone wrong but Bill and Riley kept us between the ditches.  I was in awe during the whole process and I was in love with the first cast I threw with her. Becky had to tell me I couldn't sleep with it.

I spent most of the next day casting on and off for about 6 hours. The rod is incredibly accurate at close or long range and the power to rip out 70 feet of fly line is effortless.

By the time I left for home after my first day with my new best friend, I gave Becky a ring and told her to sell all the rest of my 4 weights because I don't believe I want to fish anything else for the rest of my life. I already have plans in the works for a 3 weight, a 5 weight, and an 8 weight. I think I'm bamboo crazy! Here's some pics of my new baby.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Coffee and Flies

We'll be at the shop in Helen tying flies on Saturday the 21st around 9:00 AM. If you are interested, come by and check us out while you're having a cup of coffee. Hope to tie some "bubble" midges, some natural drift stone flies, and maybe even a few trigger nymphs. Drop in if you can--"tie flies when you're having fun".



Monday, August 16, 2010

Coastal Conservation Association of Georgia

Jimmy's headed down for a CCA-Lanier Chapter meeting tonight and thought it would be a good time to remind everyone of this great organization.  Think of it as the TU for salt.

"The Lanier chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association of Georgia is committed to conservation, education, and preservation of our state's coastal resources.  We are also committed to the north Georgia watershed areas, especially Lake Lanier, and their preservation because we recognize that these resources affect our downstream coastal areas and the quality of those regions." 

Click here for more info on CCA-Georgia.

Lake Blue Ridge Drawdown Threatens Toccoa River Trout

The online edition of The News Observer in Blue Ridge recently published this article.  Hopefully this publicity will help focus the attention of the TVA on the problem before it is too late.  

Water temperatures threaten trout

Thursday, August 12, 2010 1:56 PM CDT
John Damer warns of the dangers to Toccoa trout.
Trout fishing on the Toccoa River and its tributaries could be significantly impacted because of the drawdown of Lake Blue Ridge by the Tennessee Valley Authority to do repair work on the dam and its penstock.

At a Fannin County Chamber of Commerce meeting Wednesday, Aug. 11, Georgia Department of Natural Resources biologist John Damer expressed concerns about the possibility of a large fish kill as water temperatures rise in the river, especially the lower tailwaters.

After the meeting, Damer said the draw down is causing the temperature in the river to rise significantly and trout cannot survive at higher temperatures.

While uncertainty exists over how many trout could be killed, Damer said the worst case is that the fish kill could be significant.

“A water temperature of 22 degrees Celsius is stressful to trout,” Damer said. “When the temperature reaches 25 degrees Celsius and above, there will be a significant loss of trout.”

Wednesday, the temperature in the water temperature had reached 20.4 degrees Celsius coming out of the dam and 20.9 degrees Celsius in McCaysville, according to Damer.

Dan Forester warned TVA in a July 10, 2009, letter that starting the lake drawdown in mid-July could cause a fish kill because of rising temperatures. That letter was included in TVA’s Environmental Assessment of the project.

Forester wrote that starting the drawdown later, in early August, would lessen the stress factor on the trout in the river tailwaters and, while there would be a rise in water temperature, it would not be as much as it would be with a start for the drawdown in July.

Damer said TVA has to repair the dam, and it will stop any further need to do deep drawdowns, however with the water temperature rising, significant loss of trout is likely in the next few weeks due to the swiftness of the drawdown.

In a message to a Blue Ridge Trout Unlimited official, posted on the Internet, Damer said the only option readily apparent to DNR is to slow or halt the drawdown until cooler temperatures resume.

Fannin County Chamber of Commerce President Jan Hackett requested in a letter to TVA officials Thursday that, while the work on the dam is absolutely necessary, TVA do everything in its power to help avoid a terrible loss of trout.

“While the hot weather is beyond TVA’s control, a large-scale fish kill would be a tragedy beyond imagination,” Hackett wrote.

She said tourism is maintaining the Fannin community in the midst of the great recession. However, “we cannot afford to lose both our lake and the trout population in the tailwaters, which are fished year-round.”

TVA spokesman Travis Brickey said Thursday that TVA monitors the temperature in the Toccoa River daily and so far there have not been any reports of loss of fish.

“We understand the local concerns, however, water temperatures all across the TVA reservoir system are very hot,” Brickey said.

A meeting between TVA officials and biologists with the Georgia DNR was scheduled for late Thursday about the water temperature concerns in relation to the drawdown, Brickey said.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bass Fishing in the mountains of North Georgia

With the rising water temperatures of summer, anglers can switch gears a bit and sample some of our great warmwater opportunities here in the mountains of North Georgia. A great place to start would be a trip to the Orvis endorsed Lodge of Falling Waters. Located near Ellijay, Georgia, Lake Kennemur contains a healthy population of big bass and hand-sized bluegill that are eager to smash a properly presented fly. Wonderful accommodations are available at the lodge that will make you feel like you stepped into a post card from Montana. The view from the great room is soothing enough to keep you anchored there all day if it were'nt for those pesky largemouths chasing bait fish just outside your window.

Unicoi Outfitters is offering morning and late afternoon 3 hour trips on the lake for 2 anglers for $200.00. Trips are given in our guides' driftboats so you don't even have to get your feet wet. We also supply all the gear for your outing, all you need is a Georgia resident fishing license to fish here and a call to our shop in Blue Ridge at 706-632-1880 to reserve a spot. Check out this bass caught on a recent outing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

R&R Fly Fishing

Since it's the heat of the summer, trout fishing in Georgia has slowed way down...but there is still some good fishing to be had in the south - if you go high enough.  Some of the best is in the Smokies, and one of the best sources of information about that neck of the woods is Ian Rutter of R&R Fly Fishing in Townsend, Tennessee.  Ian and Charity are pretty hard to get ahold of because they spend so much time on the water guiding in and around the Greaty Smoky Mountain National Park, but they make enough time to put out an excellent newsletter y'all might want to check out.  Just go to their website and look for the E-mail Newsletter signup box to get on the list.  They've also got a number of great books and videos available (a selection of which we keep in stock at Unicoi Outfitters!).

Monday, August 9, 2010

Carpe Diem

From our pal Henry Cowen:

Since I recently (last fall) purchased a skinny water boat I decided to make good use out of it and take it down the Hooch to check out some serious site fishing to golden bonefish (carp that is!). I have caught them many years ago using a fly rod on the lakes back in the motherland (NYC). I even tried my hand some on it here in No GA on Lake Lanier. To pursue these fish on lakes and enticing them to eat the fly is similar to getting a republican to raise taxes (ahem….). In other words it is next to impossible to make these things eat! So I figured I would try to see if these river fish are a little more fly friendly. Bob Clouser  (the Clouser minnow guy) is a friend of mine and has been fishing these things for years on his home waters of the Susquehanna River. He has for years been telling me how much fun they can be to stalk in shallow water. Well Bob could not have been more right! These fish are an absolute hoot (yes……the Yankee said hoot!). Poling around in water from 6” to 3’ allows you to sneak up on these bruisers and fish them as you would redfish or bonefish. You can even get out of the boat on some of these hard bottomed flats and wade for them. All it takes is an accurate caster in the bow and a willingness to pole someone around. I told my good buddy Gary Lowe Jr about it and he said let’s give it a shot. We poled around the area of Bull Sluice (above Morgan Falls Dam) and proceeded to find many happy fish tailing, cruising and EATING! This is a fishery I would recommend to anyone who is into hunting for their quarry. For tackle I would suggest a 7 or 8 wt rod w/floating line and 10 or 12lb tippet fluorocarbon leaders. Flies can range from swimming nymphs (a Clouser favorite) to egg patterns, wooly buggers and San Juan worms. You will not catch many of these river carp BUT the satisfaction of searching, finding, casting and finally feeding one of these fish will have you hooked on a totally new game fish…….The Chattahoochee carp. Seize the day!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Broken Rods

Here at Unicoi Outfitters we're lucky enough to have customers from around the world...some of whom fish for different species than we're used to around north Georgia.  We recently got an email from a customer who had a warranty repair question...now the truth is that most of the rod repairs we get in are from encounters with car doors rather than big fish, no matter what the customer says (hey, we're all in the Liars Club, right?).  But this time I think it might have been the fish....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Big-Time Bassin' Comes to Georgia!

This weekend (August 5 - 8) the FLW Outdoors 2010 Forrest Wood Cup (aka "The World Championship of Bass Fishing" is coming to Lake Lanier and the Gwinnett Center.

While it's not fly fishing, there are a lot of activities available (free!) for the public, including a bunch of stuff to interest kids in fishing.  And once the kids get interested in fishing, hopefully they eventually become fly anglers, and good stewards of the fisheries...which helps us all in the long run.

So, check out their website linked above for the schedule of events.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Too hot to fish--just about, too hot to tie flies--not at all. That's what we'll be doing this 1st Tues of August (3rd) at Unicoi Outfitters in Helen at 6:00 PM. Thanks to Robert Sullivan and Robert Rivers for volunteering to show us how to "tie 1 on" this time--can't wait to see what flies they will tie.

If you're wanting to learn, are just starting, or if you're experienced at tying flies, come join us--we have a good time. We'll even supply all the equipment and supplies that you need--hope to see you there.

It is really hot to fish for trout right now, but I did guide a trip at Nacoochee Bend last Wed.

Tom Skinner from Pensacola with his sons Tom and Sam wanted to give fly fishing a shot.

They wanted to learn the basics and then we tried to catch a fish. We caught shiners, bass, bream, h-heads, and even a catfish.

Sam needed to catch a trout on a fly rod to earn his scout merit badge--oh yea, we caught a few rainbows too. What a great family to fish with--thanks to you Tom and your 2 boys--hope to see you on the water again.