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, May 16, 2014

Federal Trout Hatchery Funding Public Meeting

Anglers can't afford to let this issue fall off the radar.  The USFWS leaders are trying their best to de-fund the hatchery system for all species that aren't on the Endangered Species List.  Please take a few minutes to read it.  Then take a few minutes to take some action on it.  Thanks.

From The Chattanoogan

Agencies To Host Public Meeting On Federal Trout Hatchery Funding

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
The Tennessee Valley Authority, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Georgia Department of Natural Resources will host a public meeting in Knoxville on Tuesday, May 27, to receive comments on long-term funding recommendations to continue popular trout stocking programs in certain TVA reservoirs and tailwaters across the region.
The agencies are seeking input from angling groups, local and regional businesses, tourism organizations and local governments that benefit from fishable trout waters in their communities.
The meeting will be from 6-7:30 p.m. at TVA headquarters, 400 W. Summit Hill Drive, Knoxville, Tn., in the East Tower meeting room. The public can participate in person or by webinar. Registration information for the webinar can be found at www.tva.gov/trout.
The session will include a brief presentation summarizing the issue and the Trout Hatchery Funding Stakeholder Working Group’s recommendations. Attendees can ask questions and provide comments. The meeting will be recorded and posted to the agencies’ websites, where additional comments may be posted.
On May 17, 2013, Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and representatives from the agencies formalized an agreement to cooperate in seeking a permanent source of funding to continue trout hatchery production by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Fish Hatchery System for stocking in TVA tailwaters and reservoirs in Tennessee and Georgia.
As part of the agreement, TVA committed to provide more than $900,000 per year from 2014 through 2016 to support federal fish hatchery operations that produce trout for stocking. The agencies also agreed to form a working group with key stakeholders who benefit from recreation-based trout stocking to help identify a long-term funding source. The Trout Hatchery Funding Stakeholder Working Group conducted two meetings in 2013 and developed four recommended long-term funding alternatives for the agencies to consider.
Currently, non-native trout stocked near some of TVA’s dams come from three federal fish hatcheries operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Erwin National Fish Hatchery in Erwin, Tn.; Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery in Celina, Tn.; and Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery in Suches, Ga.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stocks most of the trout it produces at TVA facilities, and provides eggs and fingerling trout to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for further grow out and stocking at TVA facilities. TVA supports these stocking programs by enhancing the aquatic habitat through oxygenation systems, controlled hydroelectric generation and minimum water flows to help maintain cooler water temperatures. However, in most of the waters, the trout still cannot naturally reproduce, requiring regular stocking to maintain fishable populations.
The short-term funding agreement allows for continued trout stocking for recreational fishing in the colder water of the reservoirs or tailwaters at 12 TVA dams in Tennessee and Georgia: Apalachia Dam on the Hiwassee River; Blue Ridge Dam on the Toccoa River; Cherokee Dam on the Holston River; Ft. Patrick Henry Dam on the South Fork Holston River; Normandy Dam on the Duck River; Norris Dam on the Clinch River; Ocoee Dam No. 1  on the Ocoee River; South Holston Dam on the South Fork Holston River; Tellico Dam on the Little Tennessee River; Tims Ford Dam on the Elk River; Watauga Dam on the Watauga River, and Wilbur Dam on the Watauga River.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Little Middle Georgia River Action

Our resident young trout bum Landon Williams has headed to middle Georgia for summer break but he hasn't taken a break from fishing.  Here's his story of an epic battle with Ole Bucketmouth.

I fished a section of an Ocmulgee River tributary near home on Monday night. I hit the river from about 5:30-8 PM and was into fish the whole time. Fish were chasing bream on the shoreline and eating damselflies and dobsonflies as soon as they hit the water all evening. I stuck with a white Stealth Bomber, size 4, all evening and was into fish the entire time. I caught several largemouth bass up to 2 1/2 lbs on it and several hand sized bluegills and redbreast thrown in for good measure. 

I finally got up to the best looking stretch of water, a nice run with current that undercuts a huge bedrock ledge and has a big back eddy with a lot of foam over the top of it. I continued with the Stealth Bomber but didn't catch anything. 

Next I tried a couple of large streamers with nary a bump with various retrieval speeds. I finally settled on my favorite river bass fly, a Grey Dahlberg Diver.
On the first cast, I cast straight into the back eddy with the foam . I popped the Dahlberg as hard as I could twice and then just let it sit for a few seconds. The pause was met with the most violent topwater take I've ever personally seen and sent the foam flying everywhere. I could tell it was a big bass but didn't know just how big until after the first jump a couple minutes into the fight. It took all my nerve and a little bit of luck to counter the fish rubbing against sharp rocks and jumping about 4 times throughout the fight. I finally got the best of the fish and he came to hand like a tired puppy dog.
This is by far the best largemouth I've ever taken on a fly rod and the fact that it was from a section of river that is heavily fished made it that much more special. Wonder what I caught him with? It was on a 6wt with about 6 lb line for tippet! I decided to let the fish so I don't know for sure how much it weighed but I would venture to say in the neighborhood of 9 lbs or so. 

Hope you guys enjoyed the story as much as I enjoyed sharing it!


Monday, May 12, 2014

There's Still Time to Fish the Chattooga DH

by Jeff Durniak (aka Dredger)

Chattooga DH - 5/10/14

Go give the river one last shot this week.

Our trio yesterday only had one fifteen minute rain delay, while having a steady pick thru the afternoon. Water temp was 61.  One of us did well on a real small (18 or 20) Adams dead drifted behind a caddis, while another cast downstream and skittered a 16 tan caddis. Sometimes he even held it in the current along a sweet seam, and steadily twitched the subsurface offering until the rainbows couldn't stand it any longer.  We had 3-5 refusals and misses for every lip on the hook, but they were all fun.

We stayed for the hoped-for fireworks at dusk.  And they happened.

The switch turned on at 8 PM as size 18 cahills poured off. When they quit  popping at 8:45, the fish switch turned off .

Dry fly flingers oughta give it a go. Carry some tan elk hair caddis (16, 18) and parachute cahills in same size.  Add some small Adams and some cahill emergers and you're all set.  Focus on shady shallows and runs during the day, and then get in a favorite spot just before 8, with fresh 5x tippet and your flashlight pre-tested.

Good luck. Pass the word to interested folks. Enjoy your whippoorwill walk on the way back to the parking lot as you recall all those rises!

Ed. Note:  We often get questions about why the Chattooga DH can't be continued for more weeks during the spring and early summer.  Well, it is open for trout fishing year round but the quality of that fishery begins to decline in mid-May due to warm water temps as evidenced by these two bad boys that were taken on Saturday.  Hey, they rose to dry flies!  And the hornyhead is all decked out for love, rosy cheeks and all.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Stripers on Lanier - It's That Time!

by Henry Cowen

Fishing has finally turned the corner. The fish are committed to feeding shallow. Both stripers and spots are eating the lights out of both flies and lures on the red clay banks. You can watch some feeding activity on the surface both early and late in the day. The key to this pattern is to make sure you are fishing in 10′ of water or less. Red clay points and flats are holding the bait and the fish. Best lures right now are Sebiles and McSticks. Best flies are game changer, wiggle minnows and Clousers in the 4″-5″ length. While the top water bite has not officially started it is very obvious that the next pattern to emerge will be the long awaited Redfin bite. For fly rodders, try tossing pole dancers, Flat Fred’s, gurglers and any noise making top water fly. The expected weather for next week is high temps in the low to mid-eighties. This will push the surface temps to above 70 degrees and the fish will eat off the surface. Areas to fish are not as important as the structure you are fishing right now. North lake is fishing a little better than the south lake. That will change in a matter of days! It seems to have taken a long time for the fish to commit but they finally did. Get out on the pond as we probably have 4-6 weeks left before it all comes to a crashing halt as the fish go deep. If you are wanting to catch a world record spot on the fly…NOW is the time. Go out there and rip some lips! See you on the pond.