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, November 29, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just Another Day on the Stream

One of our Foothills TU Chapter members, Bob Lux, recently went back home to New York for a little deer hunting and took a break to squeeze in a day of steelhead fishing...here's how it went:

After 7 days of deer hunting between Ohio and New York, I was in need of a break. Thankfully, it turned out to be a big rain day here in Western New York, so my friend Andy and I decided that we should hit Cattaraugus Creek before the rain washed it out. When we showed up in the morning, there was not a soul at the parking lot which was very odd for this time of year. With deer season opening this past weekend, most guys were hunting and let's be honest, it was Monday and the normal people of the world were at work. We are not normal and we need to catch some fish! 

We headed downstream to our spot that we discovered about 17 years ago during our initial journey into steelhead lore and legend. After the long walk, Andy jumped in ready to fish. Being a traveler of the world, my setup was not ready to go yet, so I had to rig up. I stepped into the river and made about 5 casts before getting the depth I wanted. The spot we fish is a seam in an area of rapids that drops into a long pool. Both sides of the seam are moving pretty good, but if you stay in the seam then you will catch fish. Andy has remained in the Buffalo area yet he has slackened in his steelhead ways, so I was telling him where to keep his indicator (when you fish a spot for close to 20 years, you know where the fish are). On about my 5th cast, the indicator dove down and I set the hook. The clay colored water of the Catt exploded as a chrome steelhead reached for the stars. I was a little nervous because this fish was large and I was kicking it with 6lb tippet (why I don't know since I immediately changed to 10lb after the battle). I fought the fish for 15 minutes as it made 9 long runs, each time seeming to only get stronger or maybe I was just getting more tired than the fish. My buddy Andy was finally able to get the net around the chrome steel and we got it to shore. The fished measured out at 30 inches and was released unharmed (except for the sore mouth). 

I instructed where Andy needed to get his fly as I was re-arming with heavier line. Before I knew it, Andy is yelling the call of the Catt "Fish On"! After a short battle I had the 25" steelhead in the net and ready to pose for its cover page photo shoot. With this challenge being matched by Andy, I was ready to step up. 

The next two hours yielded 10 more hookups and 3 more fish landed by me with the last one I hooke being a fish that had been in the river for some time and stared getting that mean looking hook jaw. I missed that fish 3 times before finally getting into it. Once hooked, this fish was ready to put on a show as it had me into my backing in 10 seconds. I chased him downstream and fought him for another 10 minutes before bringing him to the net. That fished ranked as one of my better steelhead on the Catt and we estimated him at 12 lbs. 

The rain began to fall harder and felt the call to go do a little duck hunting before dark, so I was reluctantly convinced into leaving, but not after one more cast. I made one more cast into my seam and the indicator dropped. I set the hook only to have the fish spit the hook and give me a little porpoise show by coming up out of the water after he got loose just to give my a goodbye wave. All in all, not a bad way to spend two hours in the pouring rain. Final score Bob = 4, Andy = 1. By the way, my four fish were on a #14 Y2K. Gotta love that fly!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Like Old Times at River North

I fished at River North this past Thurs with Robert and Mitch and as you can see, I think they enjoyed it--I know I did. The morning started off pretty slow, but as the temp warmed up so did the fishing. Both Mitch and Robert knew what they were doing and before long they had me chasing big rainbows up and down the Soque. Any small mayfly imitations with plenty of weight seemed to be the ticket.

Thanks fellas, I had a great day--hope to do it again real soon. I love my "job".


Friday, November 19, 2010

Alex Lunsford

I don't think I've ever seen someone so happy about breaking a fly rod!  Read more about Alex over at the Unicoi Outfitters website.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fly Fishing Georgia - a No Nonsense Guidebook

Available at both Unicoi Outfitters locations.

Click here to see some sample pages from the book.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Darlington School Flyfishing Club at Nacoochee Bend

This in from Hamp Cross:

Henderson Stegall with first trout on a fly rod - a 14" 'bow
On Saturday November 13th, we took the flyfishing club from the Darlington School near Rome, Georgia out on a Gilligan Special.  The party was made up of five students and three adults.  The students have just recently started this club in their high school and this was their first outing as a club.  The group ranged from rank beginners to some pretty experienced young fisherman.  After brushing up on their casting skills out in the field, we broke up into parties of two to fish for a couple of hours.  I had the privilege of fishing with Director Gordon Hight and club member Henderson Stegall.  Hight was an experienced fisherman and quickly was into fish landing around five or six in the couple of hours and letting a few go on the long distance release.  His best fish was an 18" 'bow that took a size 18 Mirco May dropped off a Stimulator.   Henderson, an experienced spin fisherman, was just getting his feet wet with the long rod and had some early hookups before we were prepared to finish the battle.  After working hard for two hours and greatly improving his casting and line control, he was able to take two of his best trout ever in the last few minutes, landing a 16" 'bow that was not happy about being hooked and gave us several awesome jumps before coming to the net, with the other students watching.  I had a great time guiding these folks and commend them as a well-mannered and polite group of young men.  The world could use more teenagers like these guys.  Thanks again for letting Unicoi be a part of your club and look forward to seeing you in the future.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Take a vet fishing.
Thanks veterans,

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Knee Deep and Loving It

Great weather, stunning North Georgia mountains in the fall, willing fish, and good friends--what a great week of fishing! Thanks Tony and Rick, and to all of Unicoi's customers, for allowing me the opportunity to fish with you--can't wait to do it again.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Autumn Fishing Reports

Hello Folks,

It’s been a while since I have been able to post any new fishing stories. I’ve been fishing, but I have mainly focused my time and energy into my new family member.

But, recently (11/6) I floated the Toccoa DH on one of the coldest days I’ve fished this season. Fishing was sort of slow with the mid part of the day being the most productive. Meat –n- Tater flies still fooling fish.

The new stretch of Mountain Town Creek, Mountain Town Plantation, is a special place. The quintessential North Georgia trout stream and it has all the fixings! Pocket water, fast riffle sections, deep slow pools, long shallow runs, you name it, Mountain Plantation has it. Look out NCF, MTP is beginning to change my opinion about where I go to get away. It’s absolutely packed with hungry trout and the opportunity to fish for them over a variety of fishing situations.
I’ve had a few trips on the Tuckasegee DH this fall since it opened, and it finally gave me a good trip last week. Jim C. and I floated it Friday October 27th after the rains that finally lifted the water level up to “Just Floatable”. Steadily caught fish all day hooking and fighting a 20”+ Brown that Jim winched to the boat once before making a power run that ended up in the trout’s favor. But, I know where he is!

All in all, it has been a good fall. Especially since the heat has subsided and we are finally able to wet our lines in water lower than 70dgs. Next trip will be the newly reborn Toccoa River to see how the fishing is.

Till Then,

J Byrd
-Life is short, fish as often as you can!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hamp Cross

Hamp Cross (left) with client Jimmy George at Frog Hollow
By the age of 10, Hamp was following his father around north Georgia's trout streams with flyrod in hand. In addition to helping out at the shop and guiding for Unicoi Outfitters, Hamp has also guided in Alaska and won several awards over the years including being on the winning team for last year's Gold Rush Cup Challenge held at Frog Hollow.  Read more about Hamp on our website.

Monday, November 1, 2010


The fishing is great right now--the recent rain has really turned them on. The last few trips I have guided have been gang busters. The fish are aggressive, my customers have been family trips which I really enjoy, and the fall colors and weather are unbelievable--what a blessing.

So it's time to crank up the vise and "tie 1 on". Our fly tying session will meet this Tues (Nov.2)--tomorrow--at Unicoi Outfitters in Helen at 6:00 PM. Come and show us how to tie your favorite fly or come and learn how to tie the flies you like to fish . We tie simple flies that catch fish--guaranteed. Don't have the equipment or supplies to get started--that's OK--we'll supply everything for you. Everyone is invited, hope to see you there.



Chattooga in the Fall

My friend Alan Juncker and I both needed to go stand in a river for a few hours on Saturday. The weight of a week of real work was pressing on our shoulders so we mutually agreed that the Chattooga River would provide the antidote. Our plan was to leave Cornelia at 8:30 AM and be fishing shortly after 10:00 when the sun began to warm things up a little. As we donned our gear at Burrell's Ford, an overnight camper told us his thermometer read 37 degrees when he awoke earlier. Sounds like we made a good decision so far. Even though the leaf color was beyond peak performance, it was still spectacular as we walked in to find the perfect spot to begin. Crystal clear water, with a few leaves, coursed through the granite chutes and tumbled through riffles and plunge pools, drowning out the conversations of the office still rattling around in my head.

A few bugs were coming off, nothing to get excited about but a sure sign that the sun was working its magic in bringing the stream to life for another day. I had my plan all set; dries and droppers all day. A hefty Royal Stimulator trailed by a Soft Hackle Hares Ear about 20 inches back started and ended my day. It was a beautiful day to be on the Chattooga, as most are. The weather was perfect and I only fell in once. Actually, it wasn't a fall but rather a slow, controlled sit-down with only my arms getting wet. Felt soles are still better than rubber.

My morning began working pocket water as I slowly got the kinks out of my body but 15 minutes into the day I made a cast mid-stream to a perfect riffle where I hoped a trout may be grubbing around for bugs in the well oxygenated water. On my second cast, the Stimulator hesitates and I lift my rod tip to the resistance of a fish; a good fish! I give an obligatory holler down to Alan that I have a nice fish on. It took the Hares Ear which happened to be tied to 6X Fluorocarbon. As I reach behind my back to grab my net, I realize I left it hanging in my garage and this fish isn't going to provide me with an opportunity to land him by hand any time soon. But Alan is much wiser than I and he has a net waiting downstream. I carefully maneuver the fish between boulders until I'm close enough to let him drift into Alan's submerged net. "Nice fish! Big brown!", he said. What a way to start the day! Using my outstretched fingers as a ruler, I calculated the fish to be right at 15 inches. The folks in Rabun County who have fished this river for over five decades call this strain an "old time original" brown with sparse but beautiful large spots. What a great day already.

As the sun continued to warm things, we picked up a few more fish. Some stocked rainbows and more wild browns. Some on pheasant tails but the overwhelming majority of the fish fell for the Hares Ear, whether soft hackle or regular bead head. In a little over four hours of fishing, we probably caught 15 or 16 fish but today wasn't about numbers. It was about that water flowing past your legs and renewing your spirit. It was about a day on one of the most beautiful trout streams in north America with a good friend you haven't fished with in a while. The catching was simply an added blessing.