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, December 13, 2019

UO Fishing Report - 12/13/19

This week’s theme is “go with the flow.” Two separate inch-plus rain events are due today (12/13) and Tuesday, and might blow out our biggest streams for a day or so. The good news is that, since our streamflows have been so pitifully low these storms may only boost streamflows back up to their historic averages (those little yellow triangles on the USGS flow graphs) or just a bit above normal before they fall again. https://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/uv?02176930

In other words, fishable flows should return very quickly. A little more water in the channel, maybe even with some stain to it, should also enhance your catch rates. Why? You’ll get some better nymph drifts, and the fish can’t study your offerings as closely. They’re apt to make quicker, careless decisions - much to your delight. Take advantage of better flows while they last.
As we enter mid-December, our best fishing will also happen in that traditional “winter window” of 11AM to 4PM, when daily water temperatures peak. Trout will still eat as long as the mercury is north of 40 degrees, but they’ll eat a lot more with each additional degree towards 50.
Here we go with some timely, local intel:
Chattooga DH: Ted J’s Foothills TU trio had a big time last Tuesday. Red glo-bugs and brown soft hackles did the trick. The Ami and Toccoa DH’s will fish similar to the Chattooga. So will the Nan and Tuck in NC, but their winter windows will be narrower since they run several degrees colder than our Georgia streams. That’s good news in spring and summer, but not so good when we’re searching for warmer water in winter. Reminder: serve them “legs and eggs” on a bottom roll, via a long tippet and adequate shot. Also try a deep, slow-stripped bugger in the late afternoon. Hit the pools, which are refuges from both droughts and floods.
Smith DH: dry/dropper combos have remained the winning ticket in low, clear flows. Residents will, however, eat your bigger flies (Glo bugs, squirmies, San Juan’s, rubberlegs, and buggers) during higher flows, but they’ll quickly return to picky eating habits (#18 and 20 midges and pheasant tails) when stormflows subside. There’s a good report or two on the NGTO small streams forum. Notice that one angler nailed fish through the overlooked riffles! http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/.../n-georgia-small...
Fires DH: armed with a morning kitchen pass yesterday (12th), ATL Chad drove up early and froze his fingers. Despite stiff digits and ice in his guides, he managed a heaping handful of trout, including a 20-inch whopper rainbow, on his dredged combo of a rubberlegs with a small prince dropper. He returned to ATL with a smile, in time for afternoon family activities.
Dukes: rain is good! If you’re lucky enough to have a reservation, or snag a vacant slot as a walk-on, put that raincoat and your barbless squirmy worms to work. Use as thick a tippet as turbidity will allow, so you can win the majority of your fights with the big boys. Big peach eggs, Rubberleg stones, and small black leeches are a few more flood go-to’s for your Smithgall barbless box.
Headwaters: dry/droppers are still working, with a few fish reported yesterday on the dry, despite chilly morning waters on the Hooch trib fished by our shop guest. Bushy tan Caddis, stimmies, and small chubby Chernobyls have served well as hook-toting strike indicators, and any tiny, weighted nymph or midge dropped off the back will entice the shy bottom dwellers.
Private waters: low and clear equals “long and light”. Under the chilly, drought conditions, winter strikes can be very subtle. We call it Zen fishing. Here at Nacoochee Bend, the North Paulding HS Flyfishing clubbers had an ample number of hits last Sunday, but were slow to recognize those subtle strikes and quickly set the hook. Their games will improve with practice. Chestatee fan “Dobbin” reported lotsa success this week on his home waters for friends stripping a black bugger or dead-drifting his customized recipe for a sexy Walts worm. What’s that recipe? Well, I don’t believe he said...
Good luck this week as you go with the flow. Avoid the big storm spikes, fish the moderate ones with chunky flies, and revert back to midge fishing if those flows dry up again. Come by or call us at the fly shop (706-878-3083) for more intel and the hottest flies for your cold-weather trouting. May Santa stuff a twenty-inch bow into YOUR stocking.

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