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.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hat Trick on the Chattooga

This just in from Nanook of the North...

Our Georgia folks oughta take advantage of the DH program, especially if the Hooch Tailwater is still fishing tough for a few more days until the Lanier turnover is finished.  The Chattooga provided the hat trick yesterday, with a bunch of rainbows, three brooks, and a brown being "fondled".

TV weather reports seem to scare off many Georgia  trouters, but they often do not accurately describe the true fishing conditions of our winter waters.  Instead, a) weather radar and hourly forecasts on web weather sites like Intellicast, b) the USGS "Real Time" website's stream gauge data (water temp and flows), and c) good friends at local tackle shops or fishing clubs like TU and NGTO, are much better "strike indicators" to help folks decide whether to burn their time and gas on a trek north.  We seasoned dudes call this "net fishing," as we fish the inter-net the night before we decide which stream, if any to visit.
Another important tip:  it's winter fishing season and Georgia trouters should consider adapting their techniques to the season and the higher water flows.  I would encourage anglers to lengthen their leaders (better yet, use straight mono or fluoro) to the maximum length they can handle, and add enough shot to get their offerings down.  The flies need to cut through the water column and scrape along the bottom.  Thick leader butts and midsections are counterproductive at this time of year, as the heavy flows catch that thick stuff and and drag an angler's flies quickly away from the bottom-hugging fish. If anglers still want to use tapered leaders, they should at least add 3-6 feet of 3X to the ends of those 7 or 9-foot leaders, then add their tippet and flies. Tapered leaders aren't needed to cast flies, as the slingshot effects of lead do a fine job!

I've seen this quote in enough fly fishing books and it rings especially true now, as we welcome the new year:
"The difference between a good day fishing and a great day fishing is one more split shot."

My rig yesterday was about 12 feet of 8 pound mono, a large, sliding cork strike indicator (Lightning Strike brand, with hole thru the middle) that was usually within a couple feet of the fly line, 18 inches of 4X to the #10 leech, and 18 inches of 5X from the leech's hook bend to the #18 pheasant tail.  I used one to three removable, size BB split shot above the knot at the 8lb/4X junction.  Shot numbers and indicator location (2X water depth) on the leader were changed to accommodate each pool.   A rubber band or toothpick made the indicator adjustment quick and easy.  An occasional bounce of the indicator told me when I found the "tick-tick" of a good drift along the bottom. And an upstream-lunging indicator told me that a fish agreed! 

For new folks, the shallower heads of pools are easier to fish.  They don't require as much leader length, which makes casting easier. I like traditional casting, but I like catching even more.  I'll return to casting around March, when the water warms, the bugs get frisky, and the fish start looking up again.  Right now, I use short casts with roll casts, water loads, and an occasional Belgian backcast (thanks to Hoover Burrell) to put the rig in the water with zero or few false casts and very, very few tangles. 

There is no one "right way" to fish, but maybe this method will add to the arsenals of our newest trouters and help them "grip-n-grin" some more this season.  Then they can "pass it on" to the newbies that they meet.   More tips here.

The fish are there.  They are hunkered down, but still hungry.  Georgia trouters oughta put a disposable handwarmer pad on top of their toes, in between two pair of wool socks, slip into their waders, and go get 'em!

Happy New Year,

Ed. Note:  After this post was published, we had folks asking for a detailed description of how to rig the indicator so we got the full story from "Nanook".  Hope this helps.

"Last year a visiting Michigan steelheader, whom the Guru and I met in the Chattooga parking lot during the holidays, showed us his indicator rigging technique.  Up north, he said that he fished a lot of heavy water with serious bobbers and serious lead, and had to change his indi depths often to get good drifts on plane with chrome noses.  Since he was kind enough to share his indicator technique with us, I'll "pass it on" to ya'll.  

"Here we go:
"He first threaded a cork or balsa indicator, with a hole thru its length, onto his leader and slid it up to the start of the leader's thick butt section. Now the indi is on the leader.  It will stay there.
"He then cut a 12-inch piece of strong mono (maybe 2x or 3x) and also threaded that thru the indicator. (If you're counting, this makes two pieces of mono threaded thru the indi.) Once his tag end emerged on the far end of the indi, he pulled several more inches of mono thru the indi, turned the tip around, and threaded it back thru the indi, leaving a small loop of that mono hanging out of the far end of the indi, and the two tag ends of the 3X mono hanging out of the original, near end of the float.
"Thru that loop of mono, he threaded a long piece of rubber band to its midlength.  Then he grabbed the two distant, tag ends of mono and pulled them tight to "lasso" the middle of the rubber band with the mono loop on the other end of the indi.  He then pulled the two tag ends of mono to pull the loop of rubber band all the way thru the indicator.  Once the rubber loop came thru a bit (3/8 inch or so), he discarded his mono threader (put it in a trash container in the car).  He them trimmed off the two tag ends of the rubber band, hanging out of the distant end of the indi,  to about 3/8 inch. He now had a doubled-up piece of rubber band as his stopper thru the core of the indicator, which was already threaded onto the leader (step 1).  He gave the 3/8 inch protruding ends (tags and loop) of rubber band a twist or two to tighten and secure the indi to his leader at the depth he wanted it.
"He could easily untwist, slide the indi up or down his leader, and then retwist his rubber band stopper.  This rig made adjustment of the indicator along the length of his leader very quick and easy, with no kinks like those thimgamabobbers are notorious for, and no knots.  The indicator could not get tossed off the leader and lost, like slotted indicators do.  It's a great winter rig when an angler knows he's gonna indicator-fish all day!
"I learn something new from each angler that I say hello to in the parking lot or along a stream.  Fishing can be a communal sport.  It is one that leads many folks toward more fish and eventually  into  the conservation of their favorite trout waters.  Learn from seasoned anglers, teach the newbies, and participate in the conservation community that we are all a part of.  Pass it on."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Now This Is Funny!

Considering that we don't have to quit fishing in the Winter like the folks in New England and the Rocky Mountains!!!  Yahooo!  From our friends at Orvis....

Pro Tip: Cleaning and storing your gear for the off-season

Posted by: Phil Monahan  
Date: 12/17/12

Battenkill Bar Stock Instructions
Always make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and lubing your reels.

For many of us, the fishing season never ends, but for those who do put away some of their equipment—dry-fly rods, the 2-weight you use for native brookies, etc.—for the long winter, storage is important. Although most fishing gear will last for years if you treat it right, incorrect storage can shorten that life span or ruin the aesthetics of a fine rod or reel. For instance, C. Boyd Pfeiffer, the godfather of tackle craft, tells of how he put a fly rod away wet, and when he retrieved it in the spring it was covered by tiny white blisters under the finish. Here are some tips to help you avoid such an unwelcome surprise.1. The end of the season is the perfect time to clean all your gear. Before you store rods, reels, waders, and lines, you should wash them and allow them to completely dry.

Rods: An old toothbrush is perfect for lightly scrubbing around the hardware and guides. Pfeiffer notes that taking several rods into the shower with you is a convenient way to get the job done quickly. Make sure you rinse the rods thoroughly and allow them to air dry.

Reels: You can use the same toothbrush for getting all sand, salt, and grime off your reels. Take the lines off all reel before you wash them (although you can leave the backing on). Again make sure you rinse all parts thoroughly and put them on a towel to dry. When one side is completely dry, flip the parts over, so any water hiding in nooks and crannies can run out. Do this a few times.

Waders: Rinse them completely, wiping off any dirt or salt, and hang them to dry. Then turn them inside out an allow them to hang for awhile longer to air them out.

Fly lines: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your lines. Using dish soap will actually remove the slick coating. A moist rag will usually do the trick.

2. Now it’s time to inspect and perform routine maintenance.

Rods: Check all the guides and ferrules to ensure they are in good shape. Apply ferrule wax to the male ends of the ferrules. Check the reel seat to make sure the threads are clear of debris.

Reels: If your reel requires lubricant (although few modern models do), follow the manufacturer’s instructions for doing so. Make sure all screws are tight. Do a final inspection to see if you missed any sand or salt residue.

Waders: Check them for wear and tear or leaks. If there are abrasions or nicks that look like they may become leaks, you might want to do a prophylactic repair with a patch kit.

Fly lines: Check the line for nicks, and test the loops at both ends to ensure that they are still strong.

3. Storing your gear correctly will ensure that it’s good as new when you need it.

Rods: Again, make sure the rod is completely dry before you put it in its sock or tube. Arrange your rod tubes horizontally, rather than standing upright. Finally, Pfeiffer suggests that you leave the end caps off entirely to allow the rods to “breathe” during the long months of storage.

Reels: The big enemy of reels is corrosion, so make sure they are fully dry. You can choose to store them in their bags, but leave a gap in the opening to allow any moisture to escape. Before you put a reel away for the winter, back the drag off completely. This will reduce wear and tear on the discs or other components.

Waders: The best way to store breathable waders is to hang them, but not by the suspenders or the boot feet. Instead, drape them over a hanger, allowing air to circulate all around them. This way, you don’t stress the suspenders or where the wader and boot material come together.

Fly lines: Fly lines should be clearly labeled and hung in loose coils over a hook or a nail. This will keep them from developing too much memory over the winter.
Guide Joe Demalderis says that, if your don't want to take the lines off the reels, leave your line attached to the spool and lightly coil the line around a large coffee can. Then toss the reel or spool into the can and snap the plastic lid on over the backing. The tension from the lid doesn't hurt the backing. Now your lines are stored in a less-memory-setting situation and your reels or spools are protected from dust and grime.
It goes without saying that all your gear should be stored somewhere that’s dry and is relatively climate-controlled—that is, a place that doesn’t experience wide swings in temperature.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Chattooga DH Report 12/13

Our friend Doug Brown submitted this Chattooga DH report:

     December 13 was a clear, mild day.  Reid Brown, Ron Nagao and I drove to the Highway 28 bridge that crosses the Chattooga River at the Georgia/South Carolina state line.  We stopped by the Chattooga River fly Shop and talked with Karl.  He said by now (six weeks into the Delayed Harvest) that the trout were distributed though out the three mile dh section above 28 bridge.  He suggested #16 black stone emerger.
Jeff Durniak swinging soft hackles on Chattooga DH
    The three of us hiked up stream on the Georgia side to the crossing.  I saw two takes on the surface and tied on a rusty spinner and then a BWO and I saw one trout rise and refuse the BWO.  We spread out and I went to a favorite piece of water and continued to cast dries and nothing rose.  I tied on a barbless #16 bh black soft hackle and began to land rainbows from this run.  I walked up stream above the rock chairs and tried a short cut and became tangled in briers and honeysuckle so I backed out and found a trail to the river.  I fished a long run that hugs the South Carolina bank.  I cast near and then to the far side and hooked rainbows on the down swing.  I’d let the line straighten downstream, hesitated and lifted the tip up which brings the nymph toward the surface, like an emerger, and the trout nailed the soft hackle fly. 
    The air temperature began to warm up considerably by 2:00pm and I walked down stream and found a fine piece of dry fly water.  There was a good trout rising near a rock.  He swirled under the fly.  I rested the water and he began to feed again and I cast and nothing.  Other fish began to rise and sip, there were many midges and what appeared to be #18 mahogany mayflies in the air and around the water where the sun lit the surface.  I had no luck fishing dries.  I met up with Ron and Reid.  They had each landed trout.  Reid landed his on size #24 black midge.  Ron landed his on soft hackle nymphs of various body colors.  Reid and I walked back to the crossing.  I continued my downstream drift with the black soft hackle and hooked and landed a 20” brown.  This was a fine, thick and powerful fish who refused to come to the net.  I did not want to exhaust this trout in order to land him so I asked Reid to net the brown for me. 
    Were the fish scattered throughout the river?  I don’t know.   But today was the first day of this season that I saw anglers throughout the river’s course.   

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Nacoochee Bend Winter Special

The best deal on private stream trophy trout fishing in north Georgia is available right now with our Christmas special pricing at Nacoochee Bend.  The access fee to fish at Nacoochee Bend is normally $120, a good deal in itself.  But starting today (12/11/12) we're cutting the cost of a half day trip to only $90.  

You won't find anything to beat it, so come by the shop, give us a call (706-878-3083) or go to our online store and select the "Nacoochee Bend Winter Special Gift Certificate".  

This is a limited time offer at this special price but we do require these gift certificates to be redeemed no later than March 31, 2013.  So, if you're looking for that special Christmas gift or you're getting cash from Santa, here's your opportunity to get more bang for your buck.

Friday, December 7, 2012

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Proposes Fishing Ban on Cumberland River Tailwaters

Normally, we'd just post a snippet of someone else's blog post with a link so that you could read it yourself on their site...but  I think this bears printing here in its entirety.  We first read this on www.outdoorlife.com.

As if a ban on fishing on the Cumberland River isn't bad enough (and that's pretty dang bad!), the bigger concern is the precedent this could set for all rivers on which the Corps has a dam!

December 04, 2012
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Proposes Fishing Ban on Cumberland River Tailwaters - 2
Ah, you've got to love the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
From the group that brought you the Chicago sanitary canal and a steady flow of invasive species into America, comes the next great hit to anglers everywhere: Bans on fishing in tailwaters below some of the most popular dams in the nation, citing "safety concerns."
A recent report on Nooga.com outlined the issue. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has hatched a plan to close access to tailwater areas below all dams on the Cumberland River -- a series of areas that are extremely popular with fisherman targeting a variety of species.
Some of the dams involved include Cheatham, Percy Priest, Center Hill, and Old Hickory. Tennessee is home to nearly 1 million anglers and tailwater areas are prime locations.
The move has obviously angered a lot of folks in the Tennessee area and it's not just because of the proposed closure. It's also over the fact that the Corps has given virtually no public notice on the issue and doesn't seem willing to consider any other options.
According to the Nooga.com report, the Corps has issued only a brief statement about the issue that reads:
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is currently in the process of finalizing a plan to restrict boat access to hazardous waters directly upstream and downstream of all hydroelectric power plant facilities along the Cumberland River and its tributaries. When the implementation plan is finalized, the corps will release the information to the public."
Tailwater tactics are a staple for many Southern anglers living in reservoir country and for good reason -- tailwater areas hold a ton of fish. The flow of water creates plenty of oxygen and deposits a buffet of food in the area as a result of turbulence. This increased oxygen level and food attracts small baitfish, which in turn, attract gamefish. It is food web fishing at its simplest.
Now that word of the closure has started to leak out, protests have begun. Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander sent a letter to the Corps voicing his concern over the decision.
Bobby Wilson, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency chief of fisheries, also issued a letter to the Corps that stated:
"A decision to restrict access will annually eliminate thousands of trips made by sport anglers and commercial fishing guides. We strongly urge you to consider other alternatives and seek public comment as you move forward on this question."
Thus far, the Corps seems not to be listening.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mr. Bob at the Bend

This in from Ron Thomas:

I had the privilege and pleasure to fish with "Mr. Bob" Still and his son and daughter-in-law David and Charlotte on the day after Thanksgiving at Nacoochee Bend.  As soon as we were in the water, "Mr. Bob" hooked and landed a nice rainbow.  It didn't stop there--it seemed that every time that he picked up the rod, he was on fish.  On one occasion, I saw a nice rainbow not far from where we were standing--I showed the fish to "Mr. Bob" and before I knew it, he had made the cast and hooked that fish.  He played the trout like a pro and before long the big bow (the one in the picture) was in the net.

Oh yea, David and Charlotte caught fish also--but this trip belonged to "Mr. Bob".  Thanks to the Still's for fishing with Unicoi and for giving me the opportunity to fish with them--what a joy!  By the way--"Mr. Bob" is 94 years young--can't wait until he's 100!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hooking Generations on Fly Fishing!

Our long time friend David Weeks brought his grandson West to Nacoochee Bend yesterday to introduce him to fly fishing.  From the sound of David's report, I think we've successfully helped him bring another generation into the fold.  Thanks for the report, David, and we hope we'll see you two on the streams of north Georgia more often.


Attached are copies of photos of my grandson, West Weeks, catching his first
trout on a fly rod at Nacoochee Bend on November 1st.  The photo on the right with me was his first trout which was 16 inches.  The photo below was his largest at 23 inches.  Notice the smile on his face!!  In all, West caught and landed eleven trout
on his first day ranging from 16 inches to 23 inches.  What a memorable day
he had!  Chuck Head did an excellent job of coaching West in casting and
landing his fish.  West landed each fish by himself and we did not lose a
single fish which was quite an accomplishment.  Thank you for creating a
wonderful fishing experience at Nacoochee Bend.  Please let me know if you
use any of these photos on your website.

Tight lines,

David Weeks

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hooked Another Couple!

We always enjoy hearing from our guests, particularly those just trying out the sport of fly fishing.  Tony Perry and Karla Gotowala went out on a Gilligan Special this week with George MacMillan.  I think we've ruined two more lives.  Oh yeah!

Mr Cross,

I want to thank you and your staff for a wonderful first experience of fly fishing. After meeting you on our first day in Helen, my girlfriend and I took your advice and booked a Gilligan trip.  We waited until Wednesday (a rookie mistake) to book the trip for Thursday.  Chuck initially told us that your guided services were booked several days out, a problem for us since our plans had us leaving Friday morning. Chuck worked with us and called us back about an hour later informing us that we were booked for Thursday morning. We appreciate his efforts.

We were very fortunate in having George as our guide this morning. He took us to a location that was absolutely beautiful. He quickly taught us how to cast, not an easy task considering neither of us have ever even held a fly rod. He also provided us with some basic education about the fly rod and it's components.

George then took us down to the water and proceeded to wait on us for the next couple of hours as we lost flys on logs in the water and in trees casting. He was incredibly patient as I missed fish after fish. His instruction paid off with a beautiful rainbow trout. I had several other fish on and nearly landed but my inexperience allowed the fish to get off just before landing.

I highly recommend your guided services, specifically George. He is a credit to your organization and will be remembered fondly by us.

Tony Perry & Karla Gotowala

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Trout By any Other Name

A Trout By Any Other Name
submitted by Mark Whitney

This past weekend, while the weather was right and the fishing reports even better, I thought I’d try my hand at fly fishing for trout; spotted sea trout, that is.  It was my first foray into salt water with a fly rod so I didn’t have high expectations for my chances.  But, with a buddy who has a house on the Gulf, another who generously loaned me a stand-up kayak, yet another who gave me a box of flies, and having purchased a brand new 8 weight, how could I possibly go wrong?  I got to my destination on Thursday evening and the local Sheriff’s deputy, who happens to be a fishing buddy, told me the trout were biting and the fishing had been good the last few days.  The local weather called for calm clear skies through the weekend, plenty of sun and mild temperatures.  Yep, things were looking up!
Friday morning, the sky was clear, the temps were mild and the wind was howling like a dog with its tail caught in a closed car door.  These are not prime casting conditions for someone who fishes creeks in north Georgia and generally only sees the first 12 feet of his fly line.  After wearing my arm out back casting into a gale, I pulled out my trusty spinning rod and laid waste to those toothy critters using an electric chicken salt water assassin.  There’s more than one way to fill the skillet!  At about 2:00 in the afternoon and 6 hours of fishing, the wind quit being mad and went away.  Fortunately the bite was still on, the tide was low, the trout were huddled up in the deep holes and I hadn’t noticed how sunburned my legs were yet.  I went back to the fly rod, tied on a white and pink clouser minnow and called myself a fly fisherman once again.
I finished up the day with 5 trout using my fly rod and 3 lady fish.  The lady fish were the most fun, running, jumping and trying to shake my flies.  They certainly earned their reputation as the poor man’s miniature tarpon.
Saturday broke a little cooler and the wind was mostly a non-factor.  I stuck with my fly rod most of the day and was happy to have the chance.  I ended up with more trout than I could keep and caught another 5 lady fish.  Again, most were caught on a clouser, but a couple were caught on a fly tied by a friend of mine.  I’d tell you what it looks like, but then he’d have to kill me (his words, not mine).
I have spent many days fishing for spotted sea trout and redfish in the bay near my friend’s house on the Gulf.  It’s not too far from Steinhatchee and this time of year the fishing is always good.  Usually, I’m a little more efficient and proficient using a spinning rod, but I have never had as much fun as I did using my new fly rod.  I highly recommend it!  And I know I will be going back as often as I can.  Trout in north Georgia hold a special place in my heart, but trout on the Gulf Coast hold a special place in my imagination!
I hope to see you on the water some time.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Angling Learning Curve with Mike Popick

We received this from our friend Mike Popick today and enjoyed it so much we thought we would share it with everyone.  If you know Mike, you can feel the excitement in his story and you can see that grin on his face (Although we aren't sure why he's so serious in this photo).  We think there's something most of us can garner from Mike's story and that is we can all learn from someone who spends a lot of time on the water, regardless of how long we've been fishing.  We hope you'll take the time to live vicariously through his "fishing report".

Trip Report. 10/11/2012

"Never too old to learn"

Always wanted to take a guided trip to have someone evaluate my fishing ability, correct and teach me so I can improve and have a more successful day on the river, but never could justify the cost.  One afternoon while listening to Dave Ramsey telling a listener the things
they could cut out of their spending and reduce their debt, I thought by applying these same techniques it would be possible to save for a trip.  It was amazing how fast my savings grew.  In September I booked a trip with Jake Darling for Oct 11.

Oct 11 - What a beautiful day, the water temps were in the mid 50's, air temp started out at 48 but was forecasted to rise to be in the 70's.  I was so looking forward to it I got to Unicoi Oufitters an hour before they opened.  I knew I had picked the right guide when I saw Jake
wearing a Fish Pond type of vest that was bulging front and back just full of stuff that would be used throughout the day.  We went over what I was wanting to learn and then headed out.

I learned so much that day it made me quite aware how knowledgeable and valuable a really good guide is.  Things I learned throughout the day:

Lesson 1 - Indicator Depth and Weight

Indicator depth is set at about 1.5 x the depth of the water (I was using 2X the depth  and my weight was actually quite a distance from the indicator).
Weight - always make sure I've got my flies ticking along the bottom.  Found out there is a difference between ticking the bottom versus dragging a lead anchor.  Used 50% less weight throughout the day, drift was a lot smoother and I was ticking the bottom.  The weight is placed 12" above the point fly. Point fly is the attractor - second fly 18" from the point fly is the meal. 80-90% of my catches were on the second fly.  A weight too heavy will reduce the ability to feel light takes.

Lesson 2 -  Hook Set

All rigged up and ready to go - point fly was a blue Y2K with an ATOMIC orange tungsten bead.  The second fly was a size 16 rainbow warrior.  Prior to the taking the first cast Jake was reading the water to me, where the seam was, possible places where the trout maybe lying in wait.  Great theory, but does it work - 1st drift -  fish on - fish off.  Uh-oh - here comes Jake.  Time for another lesson.  Fly above me, hook set to either right or left while facing upstream.  Fly below me, swing the rod across while facing downstream.  What I was doing when the fly was downstream and a hit occurred was moving my rod tip upstream pulling the fly right out of the trout's mouth.  Old habits are going to hard to break . By the end of the day that old habit was somewhat gone; it was either hook or not hook.  Jake was able to show me in some clear water the position the trout was taking as my fly approached.  I would have missed the hook set with my old method.

Lesson 3 -  Let the Fish Run

After a hooking large trout, it is important to give your net man time to get positioned to make the net.  Five seconds is not enough time.  If you try to out-power the fish, the size 16 hook will just pull out.  Here comes another lesson.  Jake then explained how to let the trout run, apply some pressure and use the drag on the reel.  Maintain pressure.  I knew all that, but the thought of a large rainbow in the net just did me in.  Spend time practicing on any fish hooked as if it was a large fish.  Later that day, a big one was landed!  

I had the opportunity this past week to guide a wounded vet that was participating in a Project Healing Waters event.  Using the same techniques, I was able to instruct the vet to land a 7 lb rainbow on 4X tippet and a size 16 orange soft hackle.  

Lesson 4 - It's Not the Fly - It's the Drift

How many times have you heard someone asking the guy who is catching the fish "What fly do you have on?" and then wonder why they are not getting any hits.  Watch their drift instead.  Jake did a little experiment with me.  Once I got the hang of the drift, it did not matter if I was using a Rainbow Warrior,  Pheasant Tail or a Hares Ear, they all caught fish.  Mending the line is fairly easy to do and is important to maintain a good drift, when I saw the belly of the line start to get below the indicator I would raise my rod tip and flip the line upstream, what this did is move my indicator 6-10".  After getting instructions from Jake, I was able to mend with only a slight movement on the indicator.  Hold the rod parallel to the water and quickly rotate your wrist in an upstream direction - slack will follow the roll and end upstream.

Then I learned about the unknown "L bend" (as least I was not aware of it).  This is where the line near the indicator would be upstream of the indicator and the main belly of the line downstream.  What happens is the belly pulls on the upstream line and stops the drift.  A slight mend downstream will remove the L bend and the drift continues.  If needed, mend the line back upstream.

Lesson 5 - Sensing the Hit

It was unbelievable that Jake was able tell me I had a hit before I saw it on the indicator but, sure enough, by reacting to Jake's call a fish would be on.  For the next hour all we did was play a game to see if I could detect my indicator move before Jake called out.  He won that game.  However, it was amazing to learn the subtle movements of the line or indicator of a take.  Some hits were so light only the leader would move slightly while the indicator just bobbed along.

Lesson 6 - Time for the Streamers

Forget the wooly buggers, bring on the streamers for big trout, sinking line, 7wt rod, 4" streamer with a skull cap.  This was really interesting.  It took all I had to pick the line out of the water, toss a heavy fly behind me and throw it 40-50'.  No false casting here.  Strip moderately fast with 12" strips, pause after a few strips, strip, pause and wait for a hit, strip, pause.  The side hits were the best and happened right at the pause, a violent hit to say
the least.  The hits from behind could hardly be felt.  Jake would see the fish chase the streamer, inhale it and let go with me never feeling the hit if I was stripping the line.  Big streamers are for the pros and I'll leave it up to them for now.

Did I learn anything?   Yes, a lot of things I thought I was doing correctly were not as correct as I imagined and the things I didn't know I learned.

The guides at Unicoi Outfitters are all outstanding teachers.

How was fishing?  I really was paying more attention to learning and never kept count.  I believe Jake had me down for +30 healthy trout averaging around 18" and a couple of 20"s before lunch.

What's next?  Saving up for a spring trip with Jake.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Great Autumn Fishing at Nacoochee Bend!

From Ron Thomas:

Click for large photo of a large fish!
I fished Thursday and Friday at  Nacoochee Bend with Don Barfield and Matt Hummel.  Our North Georgia fall weather was unbelievable Friday, and so was the fishing.  We had some break offs, but landed several big fish.  This one caught by Matt has to be the biggest trout that I have netted anywhere in quiet a while.  Even though this was Matt's first time fly fishing for trout, he played the huge fish like a pro.  What a pleasure to fish with Don and Matt and to enjoy God's creation--we had a blast.  It's hard to beat fishing in our mountains this time of the year--see you on the water. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Nacoochee Bend is Open!

...for the fall/winter season - and apparently fishing well!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sage Circa In Stock!

Sage's new line of Circa rods combines old-school feel with new technology for a new class of slow-action fly rods. We've got both 7'9" and 8'9" 4 weights in stock now!

Sage CIRCA - Fly Fishing with Advanced, Slow-Action Performance. from Sol Duc Buck on Vimeo.

The CIRCA rod with Konnetic technology is a game changer in the slow-action style of dry fly fishing. Its hypnotically smooth slower tempo combined with crisp and precise loading and unloading of each cast results in unmatched accuracy and delicate presentations. The CIRCA is a perfect addition to your rod collection, allowing you to approach a river with stealthy, short-range accuracy.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Orvis Silver Sonic Waders Have Arrived!

We've really been looking forward to getting these in the shop, and now, they're here!  The technology and design are awesome, as you can tell from the video above - what you can't tell is how comfortable they are (which is very!), and what a great value they are:  at $259, they're the best value in waders on the market today.

We've just received a shipment in Helen in an assortment of sizes, so come up and try them on - just in time for the fall fishing season.  And if we don't have your size in stock, or if you can't make it by the shop, we'll happily have a pair shipped to your door, and we'll pay the shipping!

Come check 'em out!

Friday, August 10, 2012

My Position On Our Responsibility

Okay, I'm not sure why I feel led to make this post other than to impress upon our readers the commitment we have to the precious resources we all love and use to one degree or another and the heartfelt passion we have for not only passing along our tradition to the next generation, but to helping ensure that generation has access to quality resources.  I realize that this may only be read by one or two of our friends but I'm stating it regardless.

In the past week, I have posted a couple of things on Facebook regarding issues that we hold near and dear to our core, the most recent being a link to a blog post by the President of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (which Unicoi belongs to).  It concerned the proposal by the White House to  invest $450 million in the Land and Water Conservation Fund for fiscal year 2013.  From the comments I received, you would have thought I was advocating a ban on moms, baseball and apple pie as we all goose step off into the future.  Not because they were opposed to the LWCF.  There wasn't even an indication any of them even know what it is.  Their ire was directed at me and the president of AFFTA for being so blind as to not see the dangers of giving President Obama credit for trying to do something positive.  We live in the most amazing country that has ever been conceived.  Somehow we continue to be the strongest nation in the world while very little over 50% of the voting public ever supports one party or the other.  I've always thought it grand that almost half the country will disagree with one candidate, or party, or the other and yet, we put our shoulders to the grindstone after every election and keep working hard to move forward.  Interesting, isn't it.  Regardless of who you vote for and who's policies you support, half the people in our country disagree with you!  So please, no more attempts to use our Facebook page for political commentary.  Just remember, one of every two people who read your vitriol (liberal or conservative) are going to disagree with you.  And beyond that, they probably don't care what your personal opinions are and you have almost a zero chance of convincing them otherwise.  Whew!  Feels good to get that off my chest.

A little history here only because it was the issue du jour.  The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress back in 1964.  It's sole purpose was to use mitigation money collected from offshore oil and gas drilling for projects which would benefit the American public:  specifically to conserve irreplaceable lands and improve outdoor recreation opportunities.  These were not taxpayer dollars.  The Fund had broad bipartisan support in Congress (yeah, imagine that!).  For almost 50 years now, the funds have been being collected and deposited into the U. S. Treasury to the tune of $900 million each year.  Guess what!  Every year, with the exception of 2 of the 50, Congress has raided the LWCF cookie jar and spent it on their own pet programs.  Now, Congress passed the LWCF legislation, even wrote it up to declare that it was to only be used for the specific purposes mentioned above, but habitually took the money and used it elsewhere.  They stole our LWCF money and continue to do so!

So here's where I am.  As long as I'm one of the owners of Unicoi Outfitters, I will continue to focus of being a good steward and a good conservationist and will share whatever information available that I feel is important and noteworthy in this area.  The LWCF issue happens to be one of them.  I may be taking a stance but I may also simply be passing along information of interest to other anglers and conservationists.  Verbally slamming me and those I work with can be done on a private level if you feel absolutely bound to tell me how unpatriotic I am for giving the President (any president) a platform.  I'll be more than happy to discuss with you how blessed I feel I am to be an American, the dedication I have in my business as well as my personal life to helping create a better life for servicemen both on active duty (that's part of how I earn my living and I'm proud of it) and those who have sacrificed their bodies and their lives in our defense.  You can reach me through the shop phone or email.

Until then, I plan to concentrate on positive things like teaching kids and adults about the outdoors I have loved and respected for as long as I can remember being aware of them.  I hope I can instill some of the same awe in you.  Thanks for allowing me to vent.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tying the "Original" Pheasant Tail

This is pretty cool.  Frank Sawyer, the English gentleman who was the originator of the famous Pheasant Tail Nymph is shown tying one in this old "film".  You can make up your own voice over and appropriate accompanying music if you need it.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Finally Got To Trout Fish!

After several weeks of, essentially, not getting my weekly fix of fishing in I made up my mind this past weekend to find me some water to fish.  Now, I'm not one to complain about rain, particularly during the hot summer months, but the recent pattern of thunderstorms every afternoon have put a serious cramp in my style.  Muddy waters in the Chattahoochee downstream from Helen have made shoal bass fishing tough to accomplish.  The Jekyll and Hyde personality of the Little Tennessee River make trips to North Carolina a poor odds game.  If someone in Franklin spits in the Little T, you can't fish it for three or four days until the mud clears.  Even redeye fishing on the lower Chattooga has been curtailed due to high water conditions.  My lovely wife has threatened to fill the bath tub with water just so I can get some casting in.  It's a serious psychological issue at my house when I don't get to fish.

Jake with a nice rainbow
So this past Friday I conned Jake and my friend Chris Borders into floating the Toccoa.  Our plan was to get on the water by 9 AM, float from Curtis Switch to McCaysville, riding the generation wave out the last few miles.  It worked perfectly!  Lounging in the shade eating a great shore lunch prepared by Chris, the water caught us at 2:45.  Our success had been so-so up until that point, mostly because we were too hard headed to switch from dries to nymphs.  Well, you know how it is; when you've got your heart set on chocolate pie and you're served strawberry, you're just a little disappointed.

A nice 'bow (lower left center) diving
back to the depths
We were also suffering a little bit from Bill Kelly syndrome.  My late friend, Bill was famous for having quoted to everyone within hearing distance, "If I ain't gonna catch em, I'd just as soon not catch em on dry flies!".  This was our mind set Friday.  When we did dredge deep with lead and indicators, we caught fish just "bam, bam".  Mostly Rainbow Warriors and Pheasant Tails but a couple were caught on a Lime Juice bream fly bouncing the bottom. 

Mark on unnamed stream

On Saturday, I succumbed to the pressures of another of my fishing buddies, Mark Whitney, and drove to the Smokies for some wild trout fishing.  What a magnificent day!  I don't think the air temperature ever got above 73 or 74 degrees.  Water conditions were perfect and we had the stream to ourselves.  Although Mark was hard headed about fishing dries only, I did give in and fish a dry dropper most of the day.  Big Royal Trudes, Elk Hair Caddis and even a Rubber Legged Tarantula brought them to the top.  The biggest fish of the day, Mark's 14" rainbow, actually took the Tarantula.  Looked too good to pass up. 

When you can spend time casually taking photos mixed in with a little fishing and a good fried chicken lunch, you can't ask for much more.  I understand it was hot, muggy and raining down here in Georgia on Saturday.   No, you don't mess with Mother Nature but you can sneak one by her now and then if you need to preserve your sanity.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

New North Carolina Regs?

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission held a meeting recently where they were presented with a few potentially interesting changes in fishing regulations.  The Commission was presented with staff proposals to make portions of Big Snowbird and Fires Creeks Delayed Harvest streams among other proposed changes to the fishing regs.  These changes are proposed for the 2013 - 2014 seasons and are subject to public hearings, so it's still a good way out if the changes even happen - but worth keeping a watch out.  The complete list of proposed changes is available here in Exhibit C:  NCWRC 7/12/12 Meeting Agenda

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hot Weather Relief - Enjoy

I realize this isn't from north Georgia but it's a cool video with no hyperbole & no vulgarity that really makes me want to go stand in a small stream and cast dry flies.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

You May Be In The Smokies If....

...this is your morning shower.
...this is your office.

...this is fine dining.
...this is your mid-afternoon sleep number mattress.
...this is your Damsel in distress.
...this is your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.