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 22, 2019

UO Fishing Report - 11/22/19

This week's theme is "workin' around the rain." Today (22nd) will be a great day for anyone lucky enough to play hooky, as the sun is shining and streams are low and clear. I know a certain fly shop owner who departed this morning for Unnamed Eastern Border River - while we are stuck here at work. Life isn't fair... But I digress.

Starting tomorrow, however, north Georgia fisherfolks will have to adapt to changing weather and water conditions if they want some holiday angling success up here. On Saturday, we must dress for success, and that means quality rain gear since it's supposed to rain all day and accumulate about 1.5 inches here in Helen. But my "Wunderground" weather app predicts a steady rain throughout the day, so streamflows shouldn't spike until very late tomorrow or overnight. Some rising flows and a little bit of stain are great turn-on's for trout, so don't cancel that planned Saturday Smithgall trip. Just run out tonite and buy that super Simms rainwear to keep you dry right through the showers. Sunday's weather looks nice - cold and clear- but storm runoff will be the challenge. Flows and turbidity (look that one up!) will depend on the amount and intensity of rainfall we get. If it's an inch or more, the bigger rivers will be blown out for 1-3 days. Small watersheds like our Hooch in Helen are fishable in just one day, while larger watersheds like the Tooga or Toccoa may take 2-3 days to drop to safe wading levels. Tune into the USGS Real Time Water Data gauges to see what's happening up here. Good gauges include the Hooch in Helen, Tooga at Pine Mtn (Burrells Ford), Ami, Toccoa at Dial, Nan at Rainbow Springs, and the Luftee and Cataloochee gauges for Smokies NP fans. Know your own personal, safe wading level on your preferred rivers. Have a small stream (Smith DH, bluelines) or pond (Vogel) Plan B ready in case Plan A is blown out and Sunday is your one and only fishing day on your packed family calendar. After Sunday, the skies clear and the temperatures drop a bit, so there's a nice fishing window leading into the holiday weekend. Just watch those water temperatures and use some winter techniques (fish deep and in the afternoons) for your best success. We're a week out, so updated forecasts might change, but it's looking rainy over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. After your raincoat, boots and fly pole, the next most important item in your possession this winter should be a stream thermometer. It's more important than your fly pattern, and will cost you the same as a half-dozen flies. If you don't have one, stop by the shop or ask Santa.
The good news is that less than a half-inch of rain per day is predicted, so most streams should remain fishable next week. "Fishability" will be directly related to the quality of your rainwear and your level of angling addiction. And one last tidbit: GAWRD usually spices up the Georgia DH streams around the holiday or just after the first of the month, so keep your junk food flies (squirmies, eggs, buggers, and rubberlegs) at the ready. Tune into the WRD weekly fishing blog and the updated trout stocking lists at www.gofishgeorgia.com. Both are usually updated on Friday afternoons. Here we go with our latest intel and best bets:
NC DH Streams: BEST BET. Nearby waters got redosed last week and the fishing is great for the fresh NCWRC stockers. Destinations like the Tuck, Nan, and Fires are great for new anglers. "Lumis" took this week off and has had banner trips up there (20-40 fish/day), including some bruiser brookies. The usual junk flies are working. He also threatened to tape a hook to his Thingamabobber, since it was very appealing to those fresh brookies. They're smarten up in two weeks, but right now these new DH stockers will make anyone look like a Wyoming fish guide. Grab a kid and go soon.
GA DH streams: still fishing well. Smith's been hammered, so go light on tippet (6x) and small on flies (eggs, midges, pheasant tails), especially during the high sun of midday. Search for shade and shadows, where fish feel safer. Get there at first or last light to fish around the midday crowds and the fish might hit a small stonefly, leech, or bugger. Again, when GAWRD redoses our DH streams, average Smith Creek fish IQ will plummet and you can toss your big, gaudy junk flies once again. Chattooga DH has fished well. It's bigger water, so the fish aren't as easily picked on (most rookies don't fish deep enough) and trained up. Angler intel to the shop this week say that a girdle bug and pheasant tail dropper has been the winning combo. Try the same techniques on the Toccoa. Just do it soon, since that big watershed takes a long time to drop to fishable levels after big rains. It's also a great spot for a float tube or small pontoon. Just go with friends to be safe.
Dukes: Wednesday's warriors reported a banner day. Hot flies were egg patterns, with small (size 20) midges dropped off the back. Some good midge patterns include trout crack and the jujubee midge. Stop in the shop and get some before your next Smithgall reservation. And if you're gonna be there on high water, don't forget your bright red squirmies and big Pat's rubberlegs to "match the hatches" during flood events. Top secret: try a black squirmy, too.
Bluelines: Deadly Damer said he returned to stalk his missed trophy on a the Vet holiday, but struck out. While the headwaters are cold, there is still a shot at some of these fish as long as stream temps are above 40. Today should be good. Try some Euronymphing of the deeper pools, or a fluffy dry (caddis, Stimmy) and a 2 or 3-foot dropper to a #16 tungsten hares ear or pheasant tail.
Private Waters: have still fished very well. this week's theme was been eggs and midges, just like Dukes Creek. Jake Darling's client had a great day at Rainbow Point on the Soque, topping it off with this nice 22-inch brown (pictured). Jake gave away a couple secrets when pressed here at the shop this morning, uttering "root beer midges and skinny Nelsons." Our hillbilly Cajun, Como had a good guide trip here at Nacoochee Bend this week. He said some caddis came off in the afternoon, and his client did well on a #16 z-wing caddis.
Reservoirs: we've heard very few flyfishing reports this week. Jimmy struck out on Lanier one cloudy afternoon, when conditions seemed perfect. He said it was a nice boat ride with plenty of gulls on the lake, but no fish were breaking the surface. The GON message board intel also shows more action deep than shallow. But dreary, rainy days can change that, so boaters should have their binoculars in hand, and their 8-weights strung up with small Something Else flies, for quick dashes to Lanier, Hartwell, Nottely, and Chatuge. Hedge your bet with a spinning rod and Sebile, so you can cast faster and farther to quick breaks, if those schools aren't staying up long enough for false casts. Watch the weekly WRD fishing blog and the fishing forum on the GON message board for timely flat-water intel. Henry Cowen and Capt Mack Farr should also have good Lanier updates for early risers, so tune into the Oneill Outside show on WSB radio (AM 750) around 5AM each Saturday morning.
Good luck as everyone heads toward the holiday. Be flexible and let the weather and water levels guide you toward success. Think "USGS Real Time, Goretex, and Thermometer" and you'll be headed in the right direction. Or simply call or come by the shop and we'll coach you toward some trouting TD's. Good luck. May we all be thankful for faith, family, friends, and our fishing addictions as the holiday draws near.

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