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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Vermont & Maryland Ban Felt Soled Wading Shoes

While we're not totally convinced this is the best way to tackle the problem of waterway contamination from critters like Didymo or"rock snot" as it is affectionately called, zebra mussels, whirling disease etc. (it's still going to take an aggressive act on behalf of all anglers to keep the spores out of the nooks and crannies of all our wading gear like gravel guards & shoe laces), more states are looking at a total ban on felt soles. Vermont and Maryland recently enacted legislation which, for all intents and purposes, makes it illegal to wear any wading shoes which are not soled with Vibram or some other proprietary rubber compound when fishing their streams.

Unicoi Outfitters stocks a full line of Simms wading shoes with Vibram soles and we can ship them to you if you live in or fish a state where felt has been banned. There is no sales tax on boots shipped out of the state of Georgia plus we'll pay for the shipping. Most shipments will go out within 24 hours of placing the order.

If you're concerned that you may be a potential carrier of these vile organisms, we still think the best way to control the spread is a routine practice of maintenance. The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission has a very good procedure we should all be following that I've included here:

CHECK -- Before you leave a river, stream, or lake, check items and leave debris at site. If you find any later, treat and put in trash. Do not wash down drains.

CLEAN -- There are several ways to kill didymo. Choose the most practical treatment for your situation which will not adversely affect your gear.

Stop aquatic hitchhikersNon-absorbent items

* Detergent -- soak or spray all surfaces for at least one minute in 5% dishwashing detergent or (2 cups (16 oz.) or 500mls with water added to make 2.5 gal. or 10 litres); OR
* Bleach -- soak or spray all surfaces for at least one minute in 2% household bleach (1 cup (8 oz.) or 200mls with water added to make 3 gal. or 10 litres); OR
* Hot water -- soak for at least one minute in very hot water kept above 140° F (60° C) (hotter than most tap water) or for at least 20 minutes in hot water kept above 113° F (45° C) (uncomfortable to touch).

Absorbent items -- require longer soaking times to allow thorough saturation. For example, felt-soled waders require:

* Hot water -- soak for at least 40 minutes in hot water kept above 113° F (45° C) ; OR
* Hot water plus detergent -- soak for 30 minutes in hot water kept above 113° F (45° C) containing 5% dishwashing detergent; OR
* Freezing any item until solid will also kill didymo.

DRY -- Drying will kill didymo, but slightly moist didymo can survive for months. To ensure didymo cells are dead by drying, the item must be completely dry to the touch, inside and out, then left dry for at least another 48 hours before use. If cleaning or drying is not practical, restrict equipment to a single waterway.

NOTE: The thicker and denser the material, the better it will be at holding moisture (and live cells), the slower it will be to dry out and the more difficult it will be to soak completely with cleaning solutions.

When cleaning equipment, we recommend that you

* soak porous materials for longer than the specified times to ensure saturation with cleaning solution
* choose a decontamination solution that will not adversely affect your equipment
* follow manufacturer’s safety instructions when using products
* dispose of cleaning waste well away from waterways

Here's an eye-opening video out of New Zealand that can help you recognize Didymo:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stan Bogdan: Remembering a Fly Fishing Giant

Ironically, I have had brief but notable acquaintances with both the Bogdan family and the reporter Monte Burke. The first year as an owner of Unicoi Outfitters, a friend of ours stopped by the shop in Helen and with him was Stan Bogdan's son Stephen. I felt as if I were in the presence of royalty but Stephen was a very quiet and unassuming man with a pleasant personality whom I enjoyed visiting with. Monte Burke and I met on the Willowemoc River in New York one afternoon as I was rescuing a fishing partner from being swept into a stringer. A nerve wracking experience for me for sure. About a year ago I received an email from Monte telling me that the incident had been indelibly etched on his mind also as he had walked up on us while we were fighting the strong current. He has written a very good article on Stan Bogdan which I thought you would enjoy.

From Monte Burke on the Forbes blog:
Stanley Bogdan–perhaps the finest reelmaker the world of fly-fishing has ever known–passed away last night at the age of 92. I wrote about Stan and his reels in the 4/13/09 issue of Forbes, as part of a cover package about consumer items that would always be recession-proof. His reels were true functional art.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Monday, March 21, 2011

Battle Won But War Not Over - Help Protect our Streams from Ourselves

GA TU and our partners in the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC) were successful in stopping HB 131 from passing the House before Crossover Day. This bill was intended to give the Georgia Department of Transportation and its private contractors an exemption for stream buffer requirements and fines, but with your help, we were able to defeat this bill. Thank you! We understand, however, that the special interests groups supporting of this rollback measure are now planning to amend another bill already in the Senate with the provisions from HB 131. Please contact the members of the Senate Transportation Committee as soon as possible to urge them to oppose this harmful policy.

A copy of GA TU’s email to the Senate Transportation Committee is enclosed.


Kevin F McGrath
Chairman, Back-the-Brookie
Georgia Trout Unlimited
(H) 770-587-162
(W) 404-760-3145
(M) 404-668-5835

From: Back-the-Brookie [mailto:btb@georgiatu.org]
Sent: Sunday, March 20, 2011 3:53 PM
To: Sen. Barry Loudermilk (barry.loudermilk@senate.ga.gov); Sen. Bill Jackson (bill.jackson@senate.ga.gov); Sen. Butch Miller (butch.miller@senate.ga.gov); Sen. Cecil Staton (cecil.staton@senate.ga.gov); Sen. Doug Stoner (doug.stoner@senate.ga.gov); Sen. Jack Murphy (jack.murphy@senate.ga.gov); Sen. Jeff Mullis (jeff.mullis@senate.ga.gov); Sen. Ross Tolleson (ross.tolleson@senate.ga.gov); Sen. Steve Gooch (steve.gooch@senate.ga.gov); Sen. Steve Thompson (steve.thompson@senate.ga.gov); Sen. Valencia Seay (valencia.seay@senate.ga.gov)
Subject: Oppose HB 131 in Senate Transportation Committee

Chairman Mullis and members of the Senate Transportation Committee:

Georgia Trout Unlimited has received an indication that advocates for HB 131 have an interest in amending its language to HB 137 in your committee.

We strongly oppose HB 131 and ask that you vote NO on action amend  HB 131’s language to any bill.

·        HB 131 was not voted on by the House before crossover day.  The bill had been amended numerous times before passing out of committee, being recommitted back to Transportation by Rules and amended again before a favorable committee report.  It is a troubled bill whose original intent was to exempt the Department of Transportation, the Georgia Highway Authority and the State Road and Tollway Authority from stream buffer requirements and fines.

·        As amended, it creates a separate enforcement process for the citizens of Georgia and state agencies – a double standard. State agencies would be exempt from penalties for 30 days while private citizens and business subject immediately.  State agencies and their subcontractors would be subject to a special, reduced fine of only $5,000 per day while private citizens and business would be subject to a $50,000 per day fine for the same violations.

·        It impinges on GA EPD’s enforcement capabilities opening the door for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take over enforcement of the Clean Water Act in Georgia.  If GA EPD loses its authorization to enforce the Clean Water Act, all permittees – both public and private, would be regulated by EPA and any fines would be paid to the U.S. Treasury instead of Georgia.

·        HB 131 is opposed by EPD Director Allen Barnes.

We agree, however, with GA EPD Director’s support for Section 2 of the HB 131 concerning mediation by the Erosion and Sediment Control Overview Council and request that a conservation member specifically be named to the council.

Georgia’s stream buffer laws and fines are a deterrent against sedimentation.  Sedimentation is the number one cause of water pollution in Georgia and the number one complaint GA EPD receives from citizens.  It costs tax dollars to filter for drinking water, clean out of sewers and off streets, and to dredge out of lakes and ponds. Flooding is exacerbated by sedimentation. Downstream properties are aesthetically damaged and property values are reduced by sedimentation.   Pesticides, oil, grease and other pollutants are carried by sediment.   Sediment degrades aquatic habitat by covering spawning beds and increases water temperatures by making steams shallower and acting as a heat sink. Georgia’s waters must be kept free of siltation from road construction and other state agency projects.

A copy of this email is sent to Georgia Trout Unlimited’s Executive Committee and the Presidents of Georgia’s thirteen Trout Unlimited Chapters comprising over three thousand eight hundred members.  Our mission is to conserve, protect and restore Georgia’s cold water fisheries and their watersheds.

Thank you in advance for your consideration. 

Kevin F McGrath
Chairman, Back-the-Brookie
Georgia Trout Unlimited
(H) 770-587-162
(W) 404-760-3145
(M) 404-668-5835

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Love Springtime!

Taylor & Jim
The weather, the blooming trees and plants, and just flat out getting away from the winter fits of cabin fever! I also enjoy the fact that families are getting out and doing things together...like fly fishing. Some of my favorite times on the water are with "Spring Break Families" looking to do something different, or start a tradition. This past week I got to fish with Jim and Taylor Dockery, a father-son combo from Alabama. Fishing at both Nacoochee Bend and Frog Hollow, conditions were tough with high water from big spring rains, but they fished hard and caught some beautiful fish...of course the "big one" got away! Taylor says he's coming back to catch THAT fish!! Anytime Taylor...and if you want to, go ahead and bring your dad!!  
Rex Gudgel
Rex & Taylor

Friday, March 11, 2011

Drifting the Tuckaseegee

Butch Martin sent in this report from his float trip on the Tuck this past week:

There's a lot of high water around this past week.  Most of the larger streams are way too high for wading and, if not, they're too muddy to fish.  When conditions like this are present, floating the river in a drift boat is often the only safe way to get a trip in.  On Friday, I took Trudy Johnson and Linda Bennett to the Tuckaseegee DH in North Carolina.  Even there the river is too high to wade.  Duke Power is running water in the Tuck almost 24-7. 

This nice brookie was caught by Trudy on her second cast of the day.  There were three more fish in this size category caught on this trip.  We had a 30 fish day even in the wind, rain and cold.  The river had been stocked a few days before out trip so the fishing was very good. 

When you float the Tuckaseegee, you'll notice two things right off.  First, the fish don't turn off during generation like they do on the Toccoa.  Second, you have very little competition from other anglers.  The Tuck is a big wide river and a drift boat is the best way to fish it during these times

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Can We Afford to Tie Our Own Flies?

Yesterday we shipped a package of Whiting 1/4 Saddles to a lady in Oregon to be used as hair extensions. It's the latest thing since that guy on American Idol started wearing them.  Rumor is that the hairdressing industry is buying up all the hackle they can get their hands on, which, of course, is causing the value of these prized feathers to skyrocket.  The wholesale price of some hackles is now at the level we sell them retail.  I didn't realize the extent of this fad until today.  A little surfing the net found this ad (and these are "wholesale" prices):  "Featherheads"

On the bright side, if you are the owner of some fine hackle, you may be wealthy beyond your imagination right now.  I wonder how many of these folks realize the feathers weren't just borrowed from the rooster.  To tie or to cash in; it's a moral decision only you can make for yourself.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New Winston GVX Rods

Jake Darling (aka Spanky) has fallen in love...with the new Winston GVX fly rod.  It takes a lot to impress Spank so I figured what he has to say is worth listening to.

"The new Winston GVX has a really soft touch for working in tight quarters but enough reserve power to blast it out to those hard to reach places.  This may seem like blasphemy but, in my opinion, the GVX is a better rod than it's famous predecesor the BIIx at a fraction of the cost.  Winston has dropped the boron from the GVX series so it's an all graphite composite rod.  In their world, Winston classifies this as a fast action rod but they list it in their "Classic" series alongside the famous WT Trout series.

"Bottom line is that it is an extremely smooth action with enough power in the butt section to truly launch a line.  They're less than a half ounce more than the new BIIIx and that could probably be eliminated if they offered a graphite composite reel seat rather than the beautiful traditional maple insert.  It's a great rod, made right there in Twin Bridges, MT and offered at a reasonable price for such a well engineered rod."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dukes 3/5 & 3/6

Chad Peters and I decided to head over to Dukes on Saturday to see if we could find some happy trout. With all of the rain, we knew that the water would have some stain and we were hoping the big fish would come out to play. We fished the afternoon session on section one. When we first stepped in the water we were into fish, but the bite slowed down as the day went on. We managed to bring eight fish to the net with the largest one being 20 inches. All of our fish we caught came on Pat's Rubberlegs, Hot Pink San Juan Worms, and Peach Eggs. The fish were hugging the bottom and it took large amounts of weight to get down to them. I did manage to pick this guy up on the rubberlegs:

With more rain blowing in, I decided that I would try my luck again on Sunday. It rained all night and the river was really high which made the fishing rather tough. I did manage to catch fish in the eddies and in the slow water (which was hard to find). When I found some slower water the fish seemed to be stacked up, hiding from the current. The flies of choice were still the rubberlegs and san juan worms. I did manage to catch this guy in the rough water, I was as suprised to see him as he was to see me:

Dukes is fishing really well right now and this transition from winter to spring can produce some really nice fish. Tight Lines!

Jake Darling