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, November 15, 2019

UO Fishing Report - 11/15/19

This week's theme is "rebound." Our region's trout waters fished well until the midweek cold snap, which slowed everything down. As north GA's air temperatures now improve over the next week, our trout waters should rebound as temps rise from the low forties to the high forties. If we're lucky, a few streams might even hit the magic 50 degree mark late in the afternoons. We only got a half-inch of rain this week, and that water has already passed through, so wading shouldn't be too difficult. Only 0.2 inches are predicted for tonight, so that will hardly bump streamflows in our low and clear mountain streams. Given the nice water levels and a warming trend, things are looking good, especially in the afternoons, for weekend warriors and especially the lucky few who can fish on uncrowded weekdays. Here are a few more tips and best bets for y'all:

* Tailwaters: our tailwaters like the Hooch, Toccoa, and Smith below Unicoi Lake will run a few degrees warmer than freestone streams due to the moderating effects of the lakes above them. Dawn fishing fans might find the early catching better at these places. Just don;t forget your handwarmers and hot chocolate.
* Bad attitude browns: browns are in sparring and spawning mode, and are also chowing down for the winter. Try some small sculpin or minnow patterns on our mountain streams. On the tailwaters, match the hatch. What hatch? Stocker rainbows, of course! Try a big Game Changer, Yozuri, or magnum swimbait in rainbow or brown trout colors to hit a homer. NGTO's "Browniez" tossed us a pic of a 24-incher he enticed last week with a really BIG bait.
* Bluelines: I stand corrected! GAWRD biologist John "Deadly" Damer ignored my advice to go low and instead tossed his trusty elk hair caddis. Watch the WRD weekly fishing blog for its Friday afternoon update, which will include DD's Veterans Day "dry fly trifecta" on his favorite headwater stream. Check out our Facebook page for John's video of spawning specks, too. Maybe this week's wild trout will still look up. It's worth a try. Just have your natural nymphs and some small Dinsmores handy in case you have to go down and dirty, with a dropper, to achieve success.
* Smith DH: has fished well for many folks. There are several good reports on the NGTO Small Streams forum. The usual suspects (buggers, rubber-legged stones, mops, eggs, and squirmies) did a number on the naive stockers, which may remain under-educated for another week or so. Try your big attractor as your first fly on 4X tippet, but be ready to go down to 5X. Try some different colors on your buggers and squirmies to show them something they haven't seen yet. Also, start hedging your bet with a smaller (#16 or 18) nymph or soft hackle on 5X or 6x, dropped off the back of your bigger fly. Good dropper patterns are pheasant tails, soft hackle wets, rainbow warriors, lightning bugs, and zebra midges. Since Smith is a small stream, keep your distance between flies no more than a foot. You can also add a tiny dinsmore shot midway between the two flies to sink that rear one down to trout eye-level when the water is cold and they are hunkered down. Watch the tailouts and try a small black caddis emerger, according to Smith Creek regular Dennis O.
*Chattooga DH: has also fished well for folks with a good bugger strip or an adequate, drag-free drift. Ron "Big Browns" Wilson wrote a nice account on the NGTO river fishing forum. The same flies listed for Smith have also been working on the Toog. Use a long leader/tippet combo to get down to those fish.
* Ami DH: good reports on NGTO. Again, try big and bright in front, and small and bright as the dropper fly. Use enough tippet to get the fly down.
Fish across each Hwy 53 ledge with a Smith DH small stream technique before moving upstream to the next ledge.
* Toccoa DH; no reports, but I'd expect it to fish similar to the Chattooga. Long leaders, dredged apricot egss, and deep, twitched olive buggers have been my traditional winning ticket over there during past cold seasons.
*NC DH streams: The Tuck DH hopefully got stocked yesterday (13th), so that's a best bet for new fly flingers armed with buggers and squirmies and imperfect, but improving, technique. We had one report from our guide that said Nan was slow. Hopefully the bite will improve with some warmer air temps. If you have a new angler in tow, you might plan your road trip around NCWRC's next planned stockings for Nan (18th) and Fires (19). But if you already have a good dredging game, go now. There are plenty of wild fish under the stockers, but it might be time to practice a little Euro technique on them. A sexy Walt's worm and a Frenchie or #18 pheasant tail dropper might be the ticket.
* Leftover stockers: cover a good bit of water at Cooper, Dicks, and Tallulah to clean up the summer leftovers and take home supper. Carry a small blueline rod and try the tribs, too, if the sun shines down on them. Remember that Damer dude...
* Private waters: are still fishing well. Our guides just have to change flies often to dial in the right pattern each day. They've also gone to tiny stuff on 5X and 6X to entice the frozen big boys, so dig out your midge box for some WD40's and root beer midges if your traditional size 14's aren't getting any looks.
Smokies: road-trippers will enjoy the daily fishing reports by Little River Outfitters in Townsend, TN. Most of Byron's intel and advice is very applicable to our Georgia mountains.
Let's hope for some more sunshine and a nice rebound to our air and water temperatures. If we're still above 40 degrees, it will be a good game this weekend. And if we nose up toward 50 degrees, it will be another great game. And I'm not talking about the Dawgs and Tigers, either. Do what you must to honor the SEC on your sacred Saturday, but don't miss out on our exciting mountain game: Browns vs Rainbows! Stop by the shop of give us a call (706-878-3083) if we can help you further to enjoy the north GA mountains and their diverse trout waters.
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