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 20, 2019

UO Fishing Report - 12/20/19

 UO Weekly Fishing Report - Special Holiday Edition

This week’s theme is “Holiday Cheer!” We have much cheer headed our way during this very special week: faith, family, friends, and maybe some extra fishing time, too! Let’s pile on even more cheer: higher streamflows, forecasted warm afternoons in between next week’s chilly days,
and some GADNR holiday gifts in our Delayed Harvest waters! One DNR elf also said that Vogel Park’s lake might be a great place for a child to break in his shiny, new Christmas fishing pole. JLT suggested drowning worms under a bobber for little Timmy or Tina’s first fish. For the latest DNR intel, check here late on Friday afternoons:
Given these presents from your state and federal hatchery elves, decorate your fly patch this week with your big, flashy stuff: orange and red eggs, neon Y2K’s, tan and lime mops, and brightly beaded buggers.
For veteran fish, however, you’ll see a common theme among our guides and anglers: a chunky rubber-legged stone as the lead fly, followed by a tiny trailer like a size 16-18 pheasant tail, hares ear, midge, black copper John, or soft hackle wet. Subtle colors are the key to those small trailers. You’re imitating the top three bugs of our winter stream drift: midges, blue wing olives, and little black winter stoneflies. If you try a bead, try a black one. If you only have silver heads in your fly box, carry a black Sharpie pen with you and “adjust on the fly.” 😉
These reports also illustrate that technique trumps fly pattern. With higher flows after rains, everyone’s adding an extra shot or two to get down to the action. Lesson: adjust your shot numbers and the depth (height) of your strike indicator before changing flies.
While stream temps are cold, they’re not yet bone-chilling like they’ll be in the new year. They’re still running in the mid- to high-forties, so trout are still eating well.
The key has been to get the flies rolling along the bottom. During flood flows, drift them through the flood refuges (low velocities). That’s often right along the streambank or behind that big bedrock ledge that runs all the way across the river, perpendicular to streamflow.
Here we go with some fresh intel from this week’s angling elves:
Ben S: Small stream action has been very good, with many fish fondled on his favorite egg pattern, which is top secret. Both DH and wild streams have fished well. He also caught one on top, on his strike indicator - a buoyant hopper!
More small stream reports:
Regular shop guest “TN Tourist” said he took some coveted UO intel and put his GA buddy on his first true speck. He showed us a pic of a beautiful seven-inch brookie. I believe they were tossing Caddis dries inside the Rhododendron tunnels. Where? Well....
Young bucks like Ben S, Trey, and Ben D have also been harassing the abundant, little wild rainbows in the Tallulah. Hot flies were eggs and squirmies, trailed by a #16 or 18 hares ear nymph. Hint: hi-stick to achieve perfect dead drifts and fool these wily “natives.”
Weekend guide Ben D sez:
Water was high and a tad more challenging than usual. Had to run slightly larger flies such as stones, mops and other leggy bugs. Ran super heavy just to get the flies down in the seams. Fish were spread out whereever they could take refuge. Average size was 10 to 12 inches. No tanks netted all weekend. Had two clients break off very nice fish, though.
Private Waters - UO Guide Hunter Pittman’s Report:
With the rain we have had recently and with more rain on the radar, my “go-to” rig lately has been a heavy, two-fly nymph rig. Up top I am using a black rubber legged stone fly pattern or a girdle bug.

If they don’t like it then that will be replaced by an egg or a creme mop fly. My dropper or bottom fly in my rig has been a soft hackle with a dark or tan body, or a hares ear. If neither of those work I’ve been able to catch them on a root beer midge and a trout crack midge when they were being more picky. Even with this rain some places have remained very clear so I have been using 4x to my top fly, and 5x to my lower fly in those places. I also make sure that I have enough weight to reach the bottom. Sometimes I have to use multiple medium-large BB’s to get down there. I always try to add extra weight and change flies before changing spots, that little change can often produce for you. With the incoming rain and rising water levels, I would be focusing on the middle to back of pools.
Tooga: New fly flinger Walter G from Greenville happened upon a random Rabunite while wading the Chattooga DH last Sunday afternoon (15th). He re-rigged with the Rabunite’s suggested “legs and eggs” combo, added two shot, and looped a thingamabobber way up his leader butt. With a few practice casts, he was schooled on the deadly art of the drag-free drift and...
Was immediately into fish, with a nice handful of rainbows and a fat, strong 14-inch brown fondled. To top off his day, he was invited to the Rabun Rendezvous on Jan 18, where 250 of north GA’s trouting fans will gather at Dillard House for bluegrass, BBQ, and a boatload of prizes. You’re invited, too!
Dukes: has been hit or miss. The high batting averages were by veteran hitters who took lots of batting practice through the years and know how to fish that trophy stream. Fish up to 24 inches were reportedly landed. Rookies with crummy averages are striking out in the clear water because they haven’t yet developed their home field advantage. Smithgall rookies can learn by clicking more than once on the internet and reading the scouting reports there : articles and YouTube vids. And then by fishing the place to develop their stream reading skills. We vets call it, “paying your dues.”
Fires on fire: check out Big Browns’ great Fires Creek trip report on NGTO:
UO staffers Wes and Jackson trekked north to throw out their shoulders via ten-weights and huge wet rags known as musky flies. Rumor has it that Jackson connected! Details will surely follow.
Stocking stuffers: need one more? Grab a Dream Trip ticket from your local TU chapter. For ten bucks, you have a shot at winning the March raffle for a summer week in Yellowstone. You’ll be lodged and guided by our fishing buddies, John and Laine McGarity. How about that for a memorable Christmas gift???
Tix will also be available at the Rabun Rendezvous on 1/18.
Thanks for taking a look at this week’s report . We hope it puts a few more holiday fish into your nets. Feel free to share your own fish stories with us. Also, please remind your older web grinches (like Dredger) that they don’t have to be Facebook members to sneak peeks at our UO Facebook page and snag all of this timely trouting intel.
The UO staff sure appreciates our gifts of your friendship and patronage. We’ll be closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day, but open on all others. Give us a call or, better yet, stop by the shop to swap some lies with our Liars Club. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you!

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