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.

Friday, April 25, 2014

It Isn't Always About A Trout

by Landon Williams

Well the last couple of weeks have been interesting weather wise to say the least. We have seen everything from cold blustery days and gulley washing downpours all the way to downright warm and sunny this week! It seems that my local warmwater haunt has finally reawakened after a long cold winter and the "migrants" are finally starting to show up en mass. I've caught plenty of white bass and small stripers this week and finally their bigger cousins have started showing up over the last couple of days. I was broken off twice tonight by fish I never did see after a big tug of war trying to get them out of a logjam. River fishing for these guys is completely different and it is one of the most addicting things I've ever experienced. The big white bass and local spotted bass made the evening trip worth while. I'm still gonna be hurting until I land a big striper with shoulders.

I can't claim to be a striper fishing expert but here are few things I've learned over the last couple of years while trying to figure them out myself and by fishing with others. 

1. Fish the structure. Stripers can be caught anywhere from the middle of a fast shoal to slow deep bends with fallen timber for cover. Stripers are roamers and when they are hungry, constantly on the move.  Finding them is the hardest part of the game!

2. Keep a wide variety of flies in your arsenal. Well prepared river striper fisherman carry everything from deep diving baitfish patterns to floating popper or creasefly style bugs. I've still yet to catch a striper on the surface but there's a reason the local guys fish topwater jerkbaits in the middle of the shoals! Larger Clouser style flies are hard to beat though. 

3. Be patient. Don't expect to go and wear em out your first night out there. Pay your dues and, if possible, fish with more experienced folks if they are willing to take you under their wing.

The cool thing about striped bass is that they are readily accessible during their migratory spring runs, even for boat-less anglers. Many of our North Georgia reservoirs have them with spawning runs up the rivers and creeks feeding the lakes. Don't limit yourself to just spring time fishing either as many fish will stay up river all the way through the summer, perhaps due to the cooler more oxygenated water our rivers offer. 

I may still be heart broken from tonight but I'm hoping I'll finally win one of those tugs of war soon!


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