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.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fishing Downstream

“Fishing Downstream”
Report submitted by Landon Williams

Here’s a report from Sunday (12/29) that can maybe help some of you find some unpressured water and easier to fool fish on some of our year round streams. I fished a stretch of river lying about a mile below one of our Delayed Harvest streams and had very good results. The fishing was very good with the mild air temperatures and the water temperature hovered in the upper 40’s all day! The water was fairly high from the rain overnight but was gin clear and made seeing where you’re going easy.  

There was not a particular fly pattern or technique that worked any better or worse than the others but having a fly with high visibility through brightness or high contrast caught me more fish.  I mainly fished a mohair leech with a pink tail for contrast and a Walt’s worm fly with an orange thread collar behind it for the majority of the day. Fish were hugging the banks in faster pockets or the tailouts of larger pools. Subtle jigging movements through the drift produced a few extra fish in the slower pools that I believe may not have eaten otherwise.  I think the highlight of the day was finding a pod of rising fish eating a size 20 blue winged olive mayfly and tricking 3 out of the pod before they shut down!

The fishing was fun but there’s one thing I think folks can take away from this report.  Many of our DH streams have miles of water downstream that can also be fished through the winter time. Trout can’t read our static boundary lines and many end up finding themselves upstream or downstream of these points through heavy rains or hunting for new habitat.  I like two things about these stretches just out of the reaches of our DH streams. First and foremost is the solitude they provide. Sure these stretches have fewer fish but they also have far fewer people fishing them. On Sunday, I fished roughly a mile and a half of water and never saw another angler while I was enjoying all the water to myself.  My second favorite aspect of these downstream stretches is the ability to harvest fish when most of our stocked trout streams are closed for the season. It really is a handy thing to have if you are hungry for a trout supper! 

Have fun fishing this winter and see y’all on the river!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

USFWS Not Closing Hatcheries...For Now

From "The Fishing Wire"

FWS: No Hatchery Closing, For Now
Since media reports revealed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) plans to quietly shutter several federal fish hatcheries in 2014, the agency has backed off from those plans - but not from closing them in the future.

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander expressed disappointment and concern after reviewing the agency's "Strategic Hatchery and Workforce Planning Report," and conversations with FWS Director Dan Ashe.
"It is fortunate that we have an ongoing three-year agreement between the Tennessee Valley Authority and state and federal wildlife agencies to keep Tennessee's hatcheries open and producing fish, but the threat of closure still exists," said Alexander, who has two federal hatcheries in his district. 

Plans to eliminate mitigation hatcheries from the FWS mission began in the mid- 1990s, but media attention and political pressure blocked those moves. Beginning in 2011, the agency intensified its efforts, despite Congressional mandates, presidential decrees encouraging outdoor activity, and public support for the facilities.

In 2012 the FWS slashed funding for mitigation hatcheries from its FY 2013 budget, hoping to hand management and funding to other agencies. The FWS attempted it again in 2012, but Congress forced it to finance them that year, directing the agency to secure other federal funding before defunding of the nine then targeted for closure.

Despite all this, by all appearances, agency officials remain determined to close hatcheries and direct its funding and priorities in recovery of endangered and threatened species, restoration of tribal trust responsibilities, and other propagation programs for native species. 

FWS officials cited budget cuts in 2012, although Rick Nehrling, a retired 38-year veteran of the FWS (19 spent overseeing southeastern hatcheries) asserts that budget documents clearly indicate Fisheries is the only resource program in the agency the Directorate proposed for reductions then, and planned closures in FY 2012 and FY 2013. 

"The other five resource programs (National Wildlife Refuge System, Endangered Species, etc.) have all had substantial budget increases during the same time period," Nehrling contended.

Now FWS is saying if sequestration continues into the 2014 fiscal year, the agency will have lost close to $6 million for hatchery operations since 2012.

"This report sounds the alarm on a hatchery system unable to meet its mission responsibilities in the current budget climate," Director Ashe has stated.

It appears the new agency mantra is "sequestration will require the hatchery closures."

Ashe said the 2012 "Strategic Hatchery and Workforce Planning Report," found ongoing budget reductions due to sequestration and increasing costs for operations spurred the review of the 70 national hatcheries. 

"This report sounds the alarm on a hatchery system unable to meet its mission and responsibilities in the current budget climate," Ashe asserted. "In the coming months through the 2015 budget process, I have directed the Service to work with all of our partners to determine whether the options identified in the report, or others, are necessary and appropriate to put the system on a more sustainable financial footing."

A working group trying to come up with answers includes the FWS, the TVA, and the Tennessee and Georgia state wildlife agencies. TVA signed an agreement with federal and state wildlife agencies in May to pay more than $900,000 per year for the next three years to replace fish killed by TVA dams, and keep Tennessee's hatcheries producing fish while the working group develops a permanent solution, said Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander.

"I will help to find a long-term solution, because the nearly 900,000 Tennesseans and visitors who buy fishing licenses in our state depend upon these hatcheries, as they are the principal reason Tennessee has some of the best trout fishing in the country," said Alexander, who in 2012 brokered a deal with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to provide some of the funding for the hatcheries there.

Meanwhile, insiders report the battle is merely delayed, and far from over, and that the agency has full intentions to end its century-old mission of mitigation stocking, an effort that many communities where these are located are dependent on for fishing license sales and sales tax revenue. 

--Etta Pettijohn

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sneaking Up On Wild Trout in Gin Clear Water

By Landon Williams

Here’s a report from Sunday, November 10th.  I hit a year round stream “just over” the mountain for me.  After dodging dozens of big trucks towing horse trailers, I hit the stream about 12:30 and the water level was really low but the good news is that the leaves are mostly gone on our headwater streams which made the fishing a little easier by not having to dodge so many while drifting flies.  The fishing itself was
actually fairly tough as the fish seemed to be more podded up in the deeper runs and pools.  If I caught one or spooked one, it would usually bust the pool and shut it down.  To make things even more challenging, an errant
cast or shadow would send them scurrying. I fished a long 12 foot leader and 6x tippet the entire time I.  The interesting thing was that many pools presented a real opportunity to sight fish.  I snuck up on a few pools and saw some nicer fish that would be hanging out in the tailouts and slow bubble lines.  If I only had a couple shots at a pool, I might as well target the nicest fish I could see.  

There were not many bugs present on the water but I did spot some blue winged olive mayflies and a couple of stray October caddis still fluttering around.  Although I nymph fished most of the time, I did pluck a couple of fish out of the tailouts on a size 20 parachute BWO, including this nice brown trout. When I fished nymphs, I mainly used a size 14 hares ear with a flashy pink collar or a size 16 WD-40. I fished a ton of water for the 21 fish I touched but it was really fun considering the low water conditions and got off the water about 3:30.  I wish I could say I was as successful deer hunting the last couple hours as I was during my fishing jaunt.

Still Wishing for Venison.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Nymphing Hints From the Master

Our resident trout bum Landon Williams put together this helpful primer on different nymph fishing techniques that will work very well here in north Georgia.  Give them a try!

Short Line vs. Long Line Nymphing

The Proof's In The Pudding
Fly fishing with nymphs is, by and large, the most consistent way for fly fisherman to catch trout.  The majority of a trout’s feeding occurs along the bottom of a creek or river. However, nymphing methods vary far and wide across the globe.  Here in the United States, it's popular for many folks to want to nymph fish with an indicator rig using split shot, which if done correctly creates a “hinge” effect, similar to how a door operates, that gives a visual indication of when you should set the hook.   However, this system can create some problems and there is sometimes a “time lag” in how long it takes for your strike indicator to register a strike depending on factors such as how much weight you have on the line and how long your leader is.  Many times while using a strike indicator, there will be no visual that a strike has occurred, even if a fish grabs your fly.  Fishing with a strike indicator is a very practical way of fishing but you may want to consider learning new techniques that can possibly improve your catch rates and productivity out on the water.

Short-lining on the Chattahoochee
One such method goes by the technical name of “short-line” nymphing by many folks overseas or “high-sticking” here in the United States.   When fishing this method you are taking the traditional strike indicator out of equation entirely.  Instead, you are keeping in contact with your flies the entire time that you are fishing through a drift and leaving little to no slack in your fly line or leader down to your flies.  While using this setup, it is best to keep a fairly short tippet from the end of your leader. Shorter leaders 7-10 foot in length terminating in a 4x-5x tippet are great for this setup.  By now you may be wondering how you are going to get your flies down to the bottom.  The easiest way to jump right into this setup is to keep using just enough split shot to be periodically ticking the bottom.  You just keep a tight line down to your split shot and feel for larger than normal ticks or see and feel pauses in the drift, which are the usual indications that you should set the hook.  However, fishing a tight line system with split shot still can create a problem through the hinge effect that introduces slack into the line.  To counter this use flies with weight built into them in the form of weighted tungsten beads or lead wire under the dressed fly.  Weighted flies are not the end all of slack in the system, but definitely can help you take some out of it out if you fish them correctly.  Ultimately short line methods can be used with any fly rod/reel combination and are especially effective on our tighter and faster streams here in the mountains where you can usually fish very close to your quarry. 

Dukes Creek with a 30' Leader
Using a Bright Red "Sighter"
For most situations and places here in the southeast, short line techniques are perfectly adequate. However there is one other technique which, if done well, can give you more types of water to effectively fish and can ultimately improve your success.  The types of water that I’m talking about are those that most would consider least productive, slow glassy pools and long sections of shallow water where fish are often very skittish.  In my and many others opinions, long line nymphing may be the most productive way to fish. When fishing on a long line, you may have little if any fly line out, which will require you to fish a very long leader of gradually tapered monofilament.  I find it easiest to have a 20 foot section of 15-20 lb. test monofilament and taper the leader down in increments of one foot at a time with lighter test monofilament.  Mess around with varying lengths of monofilament to figure out what works best with your rod setup and where you fish. Eventually, you must taper the leader down to your tippet, which may frequently be 6X or even 7X depending upon how spooky fish may be. A natural drag free drift is essential; however you want to keep just the slightest bit of slack in the line to help you detect strikes by watching and feeling for pauses, jumps, or other abnormal behavior in your leader. A brighter section of colored monofilament, or “sighter,” built into your leader definitely helps you in your strike detection and attention to the drift. Generally, you want the flies you fish to be size 14 or smaller, slender in profile, and just heavy enough to slowly sink to the bottom. Many who fish this way prefer flexible 10-11 ft., 2-4 weight rods like Grey’s Streamflex or Sage’s ESN.  

No matter which way you fish, being more well-rounded definitely improves your chances of success on the water. Relying on one style of fishing consistently will eventually lead you to a day where it just isn’t happening and your productivity will show for it. Try these two techniques. Once mastered, they will really up your catch rate!

See you on the creek!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Who Has The Best Tippet Material?

David Dockery's son Jackson is quickly becoming the heir apparent to the position of "Technical Guru" at Unicoi Outfitters.  The information for this post was provided by Jackson Dockery.

Unicoi Outfitters is now a dealer for TroutHunter tippet material.  Several of us have had an opportunity to fish with it in the past year.  Here is Jake Darling's impression,

"This is by far the strongest tippet that I have ever used.  The spools are half the size of normal tippet spools, and contain 50 meters; which is almost double that found on most manufacturers' spools.  Also, the tippet spool bands are color coded so you can tell what size the tippet is by looking at the color of the band while it is on your tippet holder."

Here's a link to a great article on the "Fly Fisherman" website giving some pretty in-depth comparisons between major brands of tippet material.  The article is a little lengthy but the charts are very enlightening.

This chart cuts to the chase with how each material scored overall:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Economic Impact of Wildlife-Associated Recreation

This is important information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service...specifically, they quantify the financial impact of fishing and other wildlife-associated activities in the Southeast, and on a state-by-state basis.  It's good information that our politicians should be aware of when they propose such short-sighted measures as closing down Federal fish hatcheries.  Failing to consider the full impact of the activities supported by these facilities does us all an injustice:

Economic Impact of Wildlife-Associated Recreation in Georgia: 2011

Wildlife-related recreation generates billions of dollars for our nation's economy every year.

In an effort to highlight the contributions of southeastern hunters, anglers, and wildlife watchers, we are featuring findings from the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation report.This report is the result of interviews conducted by the Census Bureau with U.S. residents about their fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching. It focuses on 2011 participation and expenditures of persons 16 years of age and older.
Wildlife-related recreation is fishing, hunting, and wildlife-watching activities. These categories are not mutually exclusive because many individuals participated in more than one activity. Wildlife-related recreation is reported in two major categories: (1) fishing and hunting, and (2) wildlife watching, which includes observing, photographing, and feeding fish or wildlife.
According to the report, in 2011 3.1 million people participated in wildlife-related recreation in the state of Georgia, generating $4.6 billion for our economy.
Graphs and charts on this page are from the original report. The full report is available hereGeoriga Census


Money Icon2011 Georgia Quick Financials

  • $4.6 billion total spent on wildlife-related recreation in Georgia
  • $873 million spent in Georgia from fishing-related activities
  • $965 million spent in Georgia on hunting-related activities
  • $1.8 billion spent in Georgia on wildlife-watching activities

Pie chart showing 46% spent on trip-related cost, 5% on other, 49% on equipment expenses.

Fishing IconFishing in Georgia: $873 Million

Who fishes in Georgia, and how much do they spend?

  • 829,000 people 16 years and older spent a combined total of 8.7 million days fishing in the state of Georgia in 2011
    • 92% of anglers were state residents (764,000 people)
    • 8% of anglers were from out-of-state (65,000 people)
  • In total, residents and nonresidents combined spent an estimated total of $873 millionon fishing in the state in 2011
    • Trip-related expenditures (food, lodging, transportation): $402 million
    • Equipment: $430 million
    • Other items (magazines, membership dues, licenses, etc.): $41 million - 5% of all fishing expenditures
  • People spend almost three times as much per day on saltwater fishing as freshwater fishing ($114/day saltwater vs. $39/day freshwater)
  • 45% of the freshwater fish caught were black bass

Pie chart showing 50% spent on trip-related cost, 15% on other, 34% on equipment expenses.

Hunting IconHunting in Georgia: $965 Million

Who hunts in Georgia, and how much do they spend?

  • 309,000 people 16 years and older spent a combined total of 8.0 million days hunting in the state of Georgia in 2011
    • 75% of hunters were state residents (293,000 people)
    • 25% of hunters were out-of-state (98,000 people)
  • In total, residents and nonresidents combined spent an estimated total of $965 millionon hunting in the state in 2011
    • Trip-related expenditures (food, lodging, transportation): $487 million
    • Equipment: $329 million
    • Other items (magazines, membership dues, licenses, etc.): $149 million - 15% of all hunting expenditures
  • Hunters on average spent almost the same per day hunting big game as small game($44 big game vs. $40 small game), but the sample size of hunters hunting migratory birds and other animals was too small to report reliably
  • However, each individual hunter spent more than 1 1/2 times overall on their big game trips ($1,046 per trip) than on their small game trips ($674 per trip)
Bar chart depicting difference in spending between types of hunting

Pie chart showing 47% spent on trip-related cost, 4% on other, 49% on equipment expenses.

Watching IconWildlife-Watching in Georgia: $1.8 Billion

Who watches wildlife in Georgia, and how much do they spend?

Two wildlife-watching activities are reported: (1) away-from-home activities and (2) around-the-home activities. Because some people participated in more than one type of wildlife watching, the sum of participants in each type will be greater than the total number of wildlife watchers. Only those engaged in activities whose primary purposewas wildlife watching are included in the survey. Secondary wildlife watching, such as incidentally observing wildlife while pleasure driving, is not included.
  • 2.4 million people 16 years and older watched wildlife in Georgia in 2011
    • 86% of all wildlife watchers did so close to their home (2.1 million people)
    • 47% of all wildlife watchers traveled at least one mile from home to observe wildlife (1.1 million people)
    • (258,000 people) of away-from-home wildlife watchers were from out-of-state
  • In total, residents and nonresidents combined spent an estimated total of $1.8 billion on wildlife-watching in the state
    • Trip-related expenditures (food, lodging, transportation): $839 million
    • Equipment: $890 million
    • Other items (magazines, membership dues, plantings, etc.): $74 million - 4% of all wildlife-watching expenditures
  • The most popular around-the-home wildlife-watching activity is feeding wildlife (1.7 million people)
  • Georgians spent nearly 34.3 million days engaged in away-from-home wildlife-watching activities in their state
  • More people photographed wildlife while near their homes than while away from their homes (697,000 people at home, 657,000 away-from-home)
  • 753,000 people reported visiting parks and natural areas to observe wildlife

Wild Turkeys in Georgia.
Wild Turkeys in Georgia. Photo: Ernie Seckinger

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Update on Plan to Close Federal Hatcheries

We want to thank "The Outdoor Wire" for this newest update today (9/12/13)

Can Political Pressure Derail Feds' Effort To Cull Hatcheries?
There have been several new developments since we reported on Tuesday, September 3 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's plans -- being kept well away from public and media scrutiny for fear of political backlash -- to shutter most if not all of the agency's mitigation hatcheries.

For more than a dozen years and under multiple administrations, agency hierarchy has pointed to budget constraints as the reason to shed the Congressionally mandated responsibility for mitigating the loss of native fisheries caused by the federal dams built in the past century.

Although FWS officials would not confirm these plans, insiders apparently contacted some media outlets in South Dakota as they began reporting that the historic D.C. Booth Hatchery, built in 1896 and home to the largest collection of freshwater aquatic research in the U.S., had received orders to close by Oct. 1.

The response to questions from The Outdoor Wire directed to several agency officials, like Laury Parramore, FWS Office of Communications, included statements like: "Leadership within the Service conducted an extensive review of propagation hatcheries within the NFHS to ensure we are best positioned to address the agency's highest priority aquatic resource needs now and into the future. Outcomes from the review are now guiding a decision-making process toward more strategic, priority-driven investments and operating our hatcheries within available funds."


Questions began surfacing about the agency's reasons for planning to close these facilities, considering the FWS's "FY 2014 Budget Request and Justification," included in President Obama's FY 2014 budget submitted to Congress on February 12, 2013. In this document the agency requested funding these facilities at the same level as in recent years, and no cuts were mentioned.

"The 2014 budget request for the National Fish Hatchery System Operations is $46,528,000 and 355 FTE, a net program change of -$172,000 and -3FTE from the 2012 Enacted," said Rick Nehrling, a 38-year veteran of the FWS, with 19 years overseeing southeastern U.S. hatcheries, "This statement informs us that all hatcheries - including the mitigation hatcheries - are fully funded."

Seems someone in FWS has some explaining to do, and if some members of Congress have anything to say about it, it won't be long.


The current climate in Washington D.C. is heated, as both sides of the aisle clash over cutting spending to try to stem the runaway deficits. Both sides agree wasteful spending must be curtailed, but neither will agree throwing out the baby with the bathwater is a prudent idea.

The 70 federal hatcheries support at least 3,500 jobs and have an annual economic impact of more than $325 million. These facilities lead to major economic advantages for the communities that house them, and are a beacon of sound government management. Besides the economic advantages, these provide the means to fulfill President Barak H. Obama's "2012 Great Outdoors Initiative," designed to increase and enhance outdoor recreation.

Yesterday (Sept. 11), Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Mark Pryor (D-AR), John Boozman (R-AR) - along with House members Rick Crawford, Doug Collins, Tom Cotton, Tim Griffin, Phil Roe and Steve Womack - sent a letter to Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell requesting for a 60-day delay in the implementation of any recommendations for closure of any national fish hatcheries or other plans, so the public could review them. (Editor's Note: You can read the letter here)

"It is our understanding that this study is soon to be released, along with decisions about hatchery closures," Alexander and his colleagues stated in the letter. "We are gravely concerned that Congress has not been consulted on the matter."

In another development, Sen. Tim Johnson, (D-SD), on Sept. 4 in a letter to Secretary Jewell requesting that the FWS "maintain funding for the D.C. Booth National Fish Hatchery," and that he be apprised of the any decisions made about the status of the facility. Johnson, like Sen. Alexander, is a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

It appears the FWS's plans to quietly eliminate these hatcheries from its overall responsibilities have surfaced - catching the attention of some mighty big fish in Congress, those with the ability to get to the bottom of what's really on the line.

As always, we'll keep you posted.

- Etta Pettijohn

Monday, September 9, 2013

Landon on the Nantahala

I fished the upper Nantahala (DH section) Saturday afternoon. Fishing was pretty good as they had stocked fish in the river for the holiday weekend but also caught plenty of holdovers and small wild rainbows and browns.  I fished the DH section on my Greys 11 ft. 3 wt. rod and boy was it fun!  Little fish bend that rod really well so long as they have a little room to run from the initial hookset.  It really made high-sticking the boulder fields just that much easier and more fun.  I fished a size 14 Hares ear soft hackle tied on a jig hook and a 16 "Frenchie" nymph with an orange hotspot.  The water came up, even on the DH section, as they were apparently releasing for a whitewater canoe championship down by the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC).  

Sunday morning we fished the lower Nantahala down by the NOC and, man, was I surprised by the number and the size of the fish down there.  There were pods of fish everywhere that you could see and they are spooky as heck.  Those who do well with sight fishing would love this area.  It was a hands and knees or hiding behind the boulder affair for much of the time.  I could usually get 1-2 fish out of a pod before they shut down, excluding some of the deeper pockets.  I caught a handful of chunky 12-14- inch long rainbows as well as quite a few smaller wild fish.  Once the water comes up from the recreation release, you get out!  You can keep fishing but often it's from the bank or just a few steps to fish the many pockets near the bank that fish will hold in.  Also the side channels of the islands are very likely places to find fish.  

The same flies were working for me from the day before.  However, fish on the lower Nantahala act completely different than one would expect. When the flow increases from the recreation release, the majority of the fish suspend in the water column and are looking for food.  Dredging in the traditional sense is not nearly as effective as high-sticking with a fairly short leader with a light 6x tippet.  Many times it seems you almost have to drag the flies slightly faster than the current to keep them in the right zone and not under the holding depth of the trout.  Hits are usually very noticeable but also very quick.  Even with a quick reaction time, it still seems like you miss quite a few. It's a fun place to fish, except for a raft going by you every 2 minutes with some flatlander saying something along the lines of, "Catching anything?"

Your flatlander who wants to be a hillbilly


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Federal Fish Hatcheries On The Cutting Block Again

Well, here we go again.  The following email was received over the weekend.  Rick Nehrling is a retired USFWS Hatchery Coordinator for the Southeast Region (I'm sure I've bungled his actual title).  This will take a few minutes to scan through but well worth your time if you're an angler.

Hey Folks,

For awhile now I have heard rumblings about the Fish and Wildlife Service's Director Dan Ashe disobeying Congress again - and silently moving forward to close hatcheries with as little notice as possible to hatchery employees, State partners, Congress etc.  During this same time I have not heard anything from anybody in the Service about any proposed closures. 

Yesterday I heard from a retiree that  D.C. Booth Hatchery - Spearfish, South Dakota was one of several national fish hatcheries slated for closure effective Oct. 1, 2013.  The Service has owned and operated the DC Booth hatchery since 1896.  The hatchery provides numerous youth and public outreach programs, receives almost 160,000 visitors per year and 14,000 volunteer hours per year, and houses the only Fish and Wildlife Service fisheries archive comprised of approximately 175,000 objects related to American fish culture & management.

In checking out the internet I found the following August 29, 2013 article from the Fishing Wire: 

Officials of the D.C. Booth National Fish Hatchery in Spearfish, South Dakota may have spilled the beans on a plan by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to close many, if not all, of the nation's fish hatcheries on October 1, the beginning of the new federal fiscal year. USFWS officials have refused comment, saying they're "in the middle of a review process". April Gregory, Director of the Booth Society, the nonprofit fisheries friends group of the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery & Archive sent The Outdoor Wire an email late yesterday afternoon saying that word from "reliable contacts in Washington, D.C." say the Booth Hatchery is one of "several" national fish hatcheries set for October 1, 2013 closure." According to Gregory, The Booth Society has "committed itself" to saving the hatchery which has been open since 1896. Our reliable sources tell The Outdoor Wire other hatcheries on the chopping block are "primarily located in the south." We will keep you posted. 

The comment that "other hatcheries on the chopping block are primarily located in the south" really piqued my interest and had me looking on the internet to see what other hatcheries are being proposed for closure on October 1, 2013.  I found the following August 28, 2013 press release from "The Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council":

"Is USFWS closing National Fish Hatcheries October 1st?

Federal budget cuts are threatening to close the 117-year-old D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery in Spearfish, a non-profit group that supports the hatchery said last week.

The hatchery is one of multiple fish hatcheries across the country targeted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which is prioritizing other programs over the National Fisheries Program, according to the Booth Society Inc. The USFWS has not confirmed that a decision to close the hatchery has been made.

Even so, some officials say the USFWS plans to close many, if not all, of the nation's fish hatcheries on October 1, the beginning of the new federal fiscal year.

The federal government is planning to eliminate funding to nine Federal fish hatcheries in GA, TN, KY, UT, MO, ND, and AR, which will result in their closure. The closure of these hatcheries will have a lasting impact on local, State, and federal economies. These facilities also provide enormous ecological and social contributions to local and state communities. Nearly 7 million fish are stocked in waters across the country from only six of these hatcheries.

Planned hatchery closings

KENTUCKY- Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery
TENNESSEE- Dale Hollow and Erwin National Fish hatcheries
GEORGIA- Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery
ARKANSAS- Norfork and Greers Ferry National Fish Hatcheries
MISSOURI-Neosho National Fish Hatchery
NORTH DAKOTA-Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery
UTAH- Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery

The economic impact is tremendous - over 3,000 jobs created and a total economic output of nearly $300 million dollars is generated by privately owned businesses selling food, lodging and supplies to trout fishermen. For every dollar spent on these fishery programs a return of $67 dollars is generated in the private sector, and for each tax dollar spent producing trout, $2.34 is returned to Washington in federal tax dollars generated from private business.

It is ironic that the USFWS is celebrating the 140th year of their fisheries program; the oldest program in the agency. They are celebrating this historic event by cutting the entire fisheries program by 12.4 million dollars. They are getting a 47.9 million dollar increase in their overall budget, but have chosen to spend that money on other programs and new programs, and scrap a program that brings revenue into the federal budget at a 2.3 to 1 ratio and supports over 3,000 jobs in the private sector!!!"

If these press clippings and press releases are true then folks within the Service need to stand up NOW and fight for your program.  You need to try and stop Dan Ashe from continuing to disobey Congress and the American public - and stop his efforts to dismantle the National Fish Hatchery System.
Folks need to advocate for each hatchery proposed for closure by writing, visiting and calling your US Senators and Representatives ASAP!  Also send a letter to Director Ashe and to The Secretary of the Interior.  Remember you do not have to be a resident of a particular State to write to that State's Senator or Representative.  It is very important for everybody to get involved and fight for the hatcheries - and the National Fish Hatchery System.  It is also very important for folks within the Service to stand up and fight for your program!

Rick Nehrling

Monday, August 26, 2013

Carp 101

Henry Cowen, carp guide extraordinaire
Unicoi Outfitters is pleased to announce that we will be hosting "Carp 101 - How To Find 'em & How To Feed 'em".  You will be taught by one of the masters:  Henry Cowen.

John Cross is fond of referring to carp as "the fish of the new millenium" due to their unique ability to survive just about any environmental conditions including a nuclear holocaust.  Global warming, politicians gutting the Clean Water Act, increased angling pressure on our trout streams, whatever your viewpoint, there's no denying the growing popularity of chasing carp with a fly.

We do guarantee you'll fall in love with the sport of fly fishing for carp.  Consider the following:

  • There isn't a more wary species swimming the face of the earth.  John says they know when you step into the river, regardless of how careful you may be.  
  • They're actually very picky eaters, unlike their reputation for being lowly bottom feeders.  Small crustaceans and aquatic nymphs as well as seasonal fresh berries constitute the bulk of their diet.
  • Pinpoint casts are required at just the right time else you'll either spook them or they'll never see your fly.
  • Most situations require you to watch closely enough to actually see the fish suck in your fly; a true adrenalin moment.
  • The hook set must be a strip set akin to redfishing or bonefishing; and most of us trout anglers can't seem to remember this in the moment.  Expect your hookup percentage to look like a batting average most days.
  • If you love the sound of a good fly reel singing as line is smoking it across the water, look no further; you've found your fish.
  • These are not wimpy fish.  Use a 7 or 8 wt. rod and expect tired muscles once a fish is landed.
  • During the Dog Days of summer, you can find them almost anywhere across north Georgia in lakes and rivers near your home.
  • On your first trip, you may consider fishing with a bag over your head but after that first fish, landed or not, you'll be bragging as you sip your Dos Equis in the neighborhood bar about the challenges you've faced going up against carp; some you've won, some you've lost.  Friends and strangers alike will gather round you, mouths agape in wonder at the tales you have to tell.  A carp tattoo may even be considered.
So, make plans to join us at our shop in Helen on August 31, 2013 at 10 am (if you're planning on attending, please let the guys at the shop know so they'll know how many chairs to put out, just give them a call at 706-878-3083).  It will probably change your fly-fishing life!

And if that isn't enough, all attendees at Carp 101 will receive a coupon worth 10% off non-sale merchandise at Unicoi Outfitters!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lefty's Story

Experiencing Bernard "Lefty" Kreh
Unicoi Outfitters thought our readers would enjoy this great article on Lefty Kreh, the grand old man of flyfishing.  We borrowed this from Etta Pettijohn on "The Outdoor Wire".

Bernard "Lefty" Kreh speaks with Etta Pettijohn during ICAST. J.R. Absher photo.
Many Outdoor Wire readers know Bernard "Lefty" Kreh as the legendary man who changed the fly fishing world with his casting techniques, and as the man who taught countless anglers to fish for saltwater species on TV and through his newspaper and magazine articles and books.

He invented a saltwater fly called "Lefty's Deceiver," which is so famous that no saltwater fly box is without one, and the U.S. Postal Service has featured it on a stamp. He has been inducted into three fishing halls of fame.

Millions have developed a love of fly fishing reading his work and watching him, and when his book "Fly Fishing in Saltwater" appeared in 1974, he became a worldwide phenomenon. At least two books have been written about him, and he penned an autobiography, "My Life Was This Big: And Other True Fishing Tales."

Kreh has fished with the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Fidel Castro, baseball great Ted Williams, singer Huey Lewis, broadcaster Tom Brokaw, several presidents and many dignitaries, to name a few.

He is largely responsible for the development of modern light-tackle, big game fly fishing, and his name is revered among fly anglers across the globe. He has spent an impressive number of decades as a journalist for the St. Petersburg Times, Baltimore Sun, and other publications.

But there is much more to this unpretentious man with a perpetual smile and quick joke.

Humble Beginnings 
The 88 year-old Kreh was born in Frederick, Md., during the Great Depression. His father died in 1932, leaving his mother with four children, him being the oldest at age six. Back then, said Kreh, there was no actual money involved, but "They (government) put us in public housing in the ghetto."

"My mother was a proud woman," said Kreh. "But she had no choice." He said some childhood friends in the ghetto nicknamed him "Lefty" because he played sports left-handed.

"When I became a teenager my mother told me I could go to high school if I could find a way to make money for clothes and shoes," said Kreh.

He found a way - fishing a nearby river, limb-lining for catfish.
"At night I'd push myself along the bushes on a makeshift pole boat, using a coal oil lantern for light. I sold catfish at the local market for 10 cents a pound, and I was a 'fat cat,'" he laughed.

Kreh speaks proudly about his brothers and sister, who all went on to achieve remarkable success in their lives and careers.

Military Service
When WWII was underway he volunteered to serve at 17 years of age. He ended up as a forward observer in the Battle of the Bulge and was at the Elbe River in Germany where the Russian and Americans first joined together to drive back the Nazis. Along the way his unit, the U.S. Army's 69th Artillery Division, earned the distinction of being tough, as he and his comrades liberated a concentration camp, fighting battles pivotal to the allied victory.

After returning to the U.S. he, in his own words, marked his greatest achievement, by marrying Evelyn, his wife and best friend for more than 60 years. They had two children together and Kreh said above all they were best friends. She passed away in 2011.

In 1948 Kreh worked at Fort Detrick, where the military kept biological weapons like Anthrax. When his biohazard suit leaked and he was hospitalized, Kreh spent a month in isolation for exposure to the deadly virus, and today there is a strain named for him, called BVK-1. In 2011, after terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing about 3,000 people in one day, someone mailed the Anthrax virus to a newspaper publisher in Florida and others, proving fatal. At that time the New York Times wrote an article mentioning Kreh as the only person to have survived such exposure.

Kreh talks about how World War II drastically changed the U.S. culture.

"Millions of men came home with a guarantee of home ownership, and more money to spend on leisure activities, where before most people rented, and the disparity between rich and poor, and those with or without property, was greater. More people were fishing, hunting and traveling and reading about these."

He liked to fish, and secured a job as an outdoor columnist for his local newspaper, and a few years later was syndicated in almost a dozen newspapers. His marksmanship abilities led to a Remington Arms Company contract as a shooting showman, when he would routinely shoot an aspirin out of the air at events and promotions.

In 1947, Joe Brooks, the fishing editor for Outdoor Life, brought his fly rod to fish for bass with Kreh in a nearby fishery. Brooks pulled in as many bass as Kreh, who was using a plug-casting outfit, turning Lefty to fly fishing for good.

"I was hooked," he admits.

The next decade he began experimenting with flies for striped bass in saltwater, and thus invented Lefty's Deceiver, a big heavy lure for long casts. In addition, his reporting in magazine and newspapers, about saltwater fly fishing was turning millions of people onto the relatively new sport that was traditionally achieved with baitcasting equipment.

"I am always learning," he said. "Adversity makes you think harder about what you are doing, and I love to solve problems. I try to share my knowledge of fishing and am deeply concerned whether or not I am making my advice clear and understandable."

Indeed, his instructional writing and casting lessons are what have led many thousands to pick up their first fly rod, as he makes it less mysterious to the novice.

He's been doing it for decades, but every minute of one-on-one instruction from Kreh makes you a better fisherman- and person. J.R. Absher photo.
In 1950, five days after the U.S. sanctioned Cuban government fell to revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro, Lefty said he went fishing with the Cuban leader.

"Ev (wife Evelyn) almost had a cardiac arrest," he said. "(Cuban president) Batista left with all the money in the treasury," said Kreh. "So Castro paid Joe (Brooks) to send outdoor writers to Cuba to advertise the good fishing there."

Kreh, while fishing with Hemingway, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature and author of The Old Man and the Sea, once asked him, "What is good writing?"

"Good writing cannot be edited," Hemingway answered.

Kreh continues to travel, giving casting seminars and promoting water and fish species conservation. He represents many tackle companies and has equipment named after him.

Despite his advanced age, Kreh is always willing to stop and show someone at a trade show his casting technique, or share his life story with an admirer. And there always seems to be a long line of such admirers wherever you find Lefty. One can't spend time with Kreh without laughing, listening and admiring the man.

Indeed his life looms large, like title of his autobiography, and if kindness, brilliance, attitude and achievement count, his life is tantamount to a world record.

- Etta Pettijohn