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 16, 2014

Nantahala Report - Find The Sun!

by Landon Williams

Against my better judgment, I decided to take the trek over the mountain yesterday and headed up toward the "Land of the Noonday Sun."  I think the Cherokee were on to something, so I decided to play the "Old Man" fishing game by sleeping in and not having waders on until 11:00.  Even then the water/air temperature did not make conditions favorable as it barely hit 40 all day and there was still a light dusting of snow on the ground in heavily shaded areas.  I didn't measure the water temperature but it for sure felt below 40 by a good bit. 

Fishing started out slow for the first hour and a half I was there and I really think it was due to being in the shadows and staying cold. Once I hit a heavily sunlit stretch at about 12:30 or so, it was game on!  The same flies I had been throwing earlier suddenly found their way into the mouths of many hungry and aggressive stocked and wild rainbows.  I fished with a "deep" dry-dropper rig consisting of a big Klinkhammer as a strike indicator, with a leech or squirmy worm tied on jig hooks catching most of the stocked fish.  I had a #18 natural pheasant tail dropped below that, which caught most of the wild fish.  In the couple of stretches where I fished in full sunlight, #20-22 Blue-Winged Olive mayflies and small black stoneflies were hatching and a few fish were splashing after them.  I caught several on a tiny BWO parachute, which was a nice change of pace from dredging! 

Once the sun started dropping below the ridge line, the fishing in the DH tapered off significantly and by 3:45 I felt like it was over.  I decided to head down the road and try the lower river, the rafting section.  The water temperature was considerably warmer down there and was certainly above 40 degrees with maybe a couple numbers to spare.  Duke Power was running water but it was not nearly the flow that it is during the recreational releases of the summer. The best part, there were no rafters.  The fishing was fantastic too!  I caught just about as many down there in the last hour and a half of daylight as I did in the whole afternoon up on the DH.  I was doing my same dry dropper rig, but only rigged about 2ft deep down to my leech.  The wild fish in the lower section were absolutely tearing it up. 

Hope you have time to get on the river over the holidays.  Remember, "find the sun"!


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