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, January 30, 2012

Nacoochee Bend Winter Special

Vance Hendon and family fished at Nacoochee Bend on Saturday morning cashing in a few of the $90.00 half day coupons Unicoi Outfitters is offering between now and the end of February.  He only sent one photo but it's a nice 'un.  Here's Vance's report:

"Fished the Bend 1/28 with my son-in law and nephew.  Water flow was a little high, and made getting fly down a little difficult.  We had a good day, as all of us landed fish. In my humble thoughts it was a little slow by Bend standards, but Bend standards are still 10x  that of any where else!

"This Brown was my 2nd fish of the day.......kind of made the rest of the day an after thought. It was a long fight to get him to hand , and it is always good to have someone on net for you !!!  Can't wait to get back up there and see what else lurks in the depths of the Hooch at the Bend!"

Sunday, January 29, 2012

New R. L. Winston Website

Winston announces its new, improved website!

In addition to all the great product info and Winston history, be sure to check out over 100 videos, viewable in HD, including on iPhone and iPad!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

February Hatch Chart for North Georgia

Thanks to our friends at Rabun TU for the best hatch chart for our area:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Man, His Dog & A Huge Brown!

Story Submitted by Unicoi Outfitters Guide Chuck Head:

With the unseasonably warm temperatures North Georgia experienced last week, it was a great opportunity for those of us who have been doing more tying than fishing to get out on the river and try some of our wintertime creations.  So my dad, Cracker (dad's fishing dog), and myself loaded up the jeep and headed to Nacoochee Bend for the chance to fish in short sleeves during the month of January. 

It's always exciting to get out with dad and Cracker.  We've been fishing together for quite a while now.  Dad wanted to see what this "Czech nymphing thing" was all about, and I needed to keep my skills sharp, as well as try a couple of new flies.  Its tough to say whether the flies were indeed a hot new ticket, or rather the fish were just feeling good from the warm weather, but they were quite cooperative for us! 

The trip was highlighted by a hook-jawed male brown who measured about 22 inches.  The best part was watching him swim four feet across stream to inhale the fly and feel my line twitch at the same time.  No matter how long I have been at this game, it still makes my hair stand up watching a big fish, especially a big brown, tracking down a fly I tied earlier that day. 

Winter fishing in the South can be phenomenal, and we seem to be blessed each winter season with more than a few days such as the one we experienced.  Fishing pressure isn't as heavy, the fish still feed regularly, and surprises like a big brown trout are the rewards for those who are ready to get on the water during our winter months.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Just Another Day In Paradise

If you'll recall my post last week on fishing the Chattooga River New Years' Day, reference was made to the old saying that whatever you do on the first day of the year is what you'll do most often throughout that year.  Not one to trifle with folklore, and certainly not one to pass on a 60 degree day with 30% chance of rain, I gave in to a plea from my friend Alan to fish it again this past Saturday.  Am I seeing a pattern develop here?

Neither of us wanted to fish until dark-thirty because of family and football obligations.  After a bacon & egg biscuit (3 eggs & a half pound of bacon) at Shore's in Baldwin, we left Cornelia at 8:15 headed north.  The plan was to fish the upper end of the DH so we made the 30 minute hike in on the Georgia side.  This helps us avoid the temptation to stop at every good looking spot and fish plus gets your heart pumping hard enough to move the colesterol that biscuit was dumping into my blood stream.

We pop out on the river bank at one of my favorite holes only to find someone beat us there.  We could have stepped in just below him with at least 50 yards between us but lately I seem to have become hyper sensitive to a lack of stream etiquette so we went downstream a good quarter mile before hopping in.  The water temp as we stepped in was a balmy 40 degrees and the sun wasn't hitting the river directly yet so we would probably be doing more casting than catching for a while.  Or maybe not!

As I sat on the bank rigging up, Alan stepped into the riffles where I had caught the big brown last Sunday.  A few minutes later he had the first fish of the day; a pretty 9" rainbow.  This is a great stretch of river, beautiful with perfect water to hold fish.  As I begin working the lower end of the run, Alan hooks into a nicer fish.  Could it be the big 'un?  Sure giving his 4 wt. a workout.  After a couple of minutes, he brings a beautiful brown to the net.  Beautiful but not the ONE!

Observing his success with the basic Y2K Bug, my superior skills and intellect kick in and I replace my stonefly dropper with a Y2K Bug.  Before I could even cast it, Alan was whooping it up as his rod bent double with his third fish.  "Nice fish!" Alan yelled as I pitched my rod up on the bank and worked my way upstream to watch the struggle.  Indeed, it was the big brown again; all 18 inches measured with a tape this time to confirm the size.  Absolutely gorgeous fish with big spots.  Nice to see you again, Babe.  Now stay away from those Y2K Bugs.

The thought runs through my head, "Can I fish now?"  Not really, but it could have in a lesser man.  Retrieve the rod, cast upstream of that one dark area and let it drift through.  Bam! Fish on!  Y2K Bug to the rescue.  Another brown, albeit a 10-incher.  A few casts later my indicator makes a sharp jerk upstream and I gently set the hook on a 17" brown.  What a great way to start the day!

As we began working our way upstream toward the now vacant pool, you couldn't help but be thankful for being where we were, doing what we were doing.  Such a magnificent place.  What a tremendous resource in our backyard.  The fishing continued to yield a few more browns and a small rainbow now and then until we took a lunch break.  We spied some truly huge fish but all we could get was a follow or two from them.  I did manage to hook into one more big brown that was probably in the 15" - 16" range but it straightened the hook on my Y2K.  Again, the afternoon turned slow as it had last Sunday but you won't hear any complaints from either of us.  A day on the Chattooga is good for the soul.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Good Start to the New Year at Dukes

    While sitting around waiting to watch the ball drop on Saturday, I had the feeling that somebody was out having "too much fun", which would result in me a walk on spot to Dukes Creek Sunday morning; or at least that was my hope. While tossing and turning all night, I could not wait for the clock to hit 8:30 a.m. so I could call and try and fill my wish. When the time came around, I called with all fingers and toes crossed, hoping that I would be able to get a spot to fish. Sure enough, they had one available spot and without hesitation, I took it. I rolled out of bed, grabbed my fishing stuff and headed out. I got to the stream about 9:30 and probably set a world record for getting suited up. I immediately jumped in at the bottom of section 1 and decided that I was just going to stay in the river and fish every piece of water on the way up.
     The first hole I stepped in I managed to pull a few fish out, but no giants. So I moved up some and was broken off by two big boys. By the way the first two holes were fishing, I could tell that the day was going to produce a quality fish. Sure enough, when I reached the third hole, I managed to pick up a few more smaller fish and was getting ready to move when this guy jumped all over my nymph. After I chased him through two holes, he hit the net. Nobody was there to snap a picture of this big male, so I had to improvise.

With having already achieved my goal, I headed upstream in search of more fish. It didn't take long and I bumped the fish count up a little more. I was catching a lot of little guys and knew that it was only a matter of time before I would get a chance at another big fish. I managed to catch a couple of decent fish and was headed back downstream. While making my way back down, I ran into Ben Van Devender and his crew from Team Dead Drift. I talked with them about the fishing for a few minutes then Ben and I tore out to look for some fish. We took turns in each hole with different flies to try and entice a big fish to strike. After fishing to this guy for a few minutes, I managed to connect with him and wrestle him to the net. There is just something cool about watching a big fish react to your fly. As you can see in the picture, the water was gin clear but the fish didn't mind. I ended the day with 17 fish in about 5 hours of fishing. Thanks for the net job Ben!

New Year's Day, 2012

The old story is that whatever you're doing on the first day of the new year is what you'll find yourself doing most often throughout the year.  Not ones to leave anything to chance, Jeff Durniak and I beat a path to the Chattooga River on Sunday hoping to enjoy one last day of spring-like weather before winter finally rolls into north Georgia.  Pulling into the South Carolina parking lot, we were encouraged to find only three other vehicles.  As we're getting geared up, a white sedan pulls in and out hops a young fellow obviously anxious to hit the river.  Never one to shy away from a conversation with other anglers, Jeff begins asking questions right away.

"What's your name?"


"Where are you from?"

"Paw Paw, Michigan but I'm visiting my sister in Anderson.  I mostly fish for steelhead but needed to get out on a stream somewhere and this is the closest one."

"What rod do you have?"

"Ha!  Well, all I have with me is a 7 weight."

"That's okay, we'll just stand on the bank behind you and catch the fish as you yank them out of the river."

By the time we left the parking lot, Kevin was in tow as our new fishing buddy and Jeff's telling him embarrassing stories about some of my previous fishing exploits.  At least he's limiting it to fishing stories so I'm relieved.  We give Kevin a brief seminar on fishing the Chattooga in gin clear water conditions with the backup plan to come find us upstream if things aren't working out.

For Jeff and me, things begin working out right away.  As he sits on the bank rigging up, I immediately hook into a fish with my double nymph rig.  At the same time, Jeff's noticing a few bugs hovering over the river and even sees a flash of silver below the surface as a rainbow considers coming up for the stonefly and changes its mind at the last moment.  As Jeff wades into the water, I ask what he's tied on.  The smile on his face hints that he's going to fish a dry fly.... on January first!

I move downstream to one of my favorite runs where another angler has just exited the river.  Before I make my first cast, Jeff is hooting Rabunite style as he's hooked his first of many fish on the #14 Parachute Adams.  My nymph rig proceeds to provide me with the hat trick (rainbow, brown and brookie) from this great little spot so we're both hooting and hollering up and down the river.  Anyone who's never fished with a Rabunite would have thought we were still celebrating the New Year.  We were, the only difference is that we were high on life.

A short while later, Kevin rounds the bend.  He's hooked three or four and brought one of them to hand.  We spend the rest of the afternoon fishing with Kevin and are amazed at his line management skills, a must when steelheading.  We all continue catching fish in with our own personal techniques.  Jeff and I getting an education on how to get long, drag-free drifts and Kevin learning the art of dredging with 12' to 15' leaders.

All in all it was a great day on the river.  Not a tremendous number of fish caught but enough to keep us there until dark.  Jeff landed a big brown that almost spooled him when hooked in the pectoral fin and I netted a big, pretty 18-inch brown from a shallow riffle on a blue stonefly nymph pattern.  I had no camera so you'll just have to take my word for it.  And best of all, we made a new friend on the river.  Can a year get off to a better start?



Happy New Year to all you Unicoi fans-- and I hope all of your days in 2012 are filled with rainbows--just like this one was for Rosie. She is the youngest fly tyer in our group and she showed us how to use those flies on a recent outing with our "Tie 1 On" group. Thanks Rosie for that smile on your face and for helping all of us to remember what this thing is all about. Thanks to you Mitch, also for bringing your daughter to our tying sessions and on our fishing trips.

This month our tying session is Tues--Jan 3 at 6:00 PM at Nacoochee Methodist Church--off Hwy 17 in the Sautee valley. Everyone is welcome even if you've never tied a fly before. If you don't have a vise or equipment, don't worry, Unicoi Outfitters will supply what you need.

We always have a great time--hope to see you in church.

Thanks, Ron