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.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

UO Fishing Report - 12/5/19

This week’s theme is “winter stealth.” The “winter” part of that term is easy to understand, as December nights have dropped daily water temps and forced fish toward the bottom. “Stealth,” however, seems odd, since we usually talk about the stealth game during summer, not winter. But our streams have been running very low and clear, and trout are reacting to those low flows by exiting the shallows (to avoid predators) and piling into drought refuges: deep runs and pools. With less than a half-inch of rain in the near future, those trout addresses should remain the same for you weekend anglers.

So the key to your weekend success is to fish midday, aim for the pools, approach them with stealth, and get near the bottom. Here are some fresh fishing reports and tips to prepare you for a great week ahead.
Small streams: fish are spooky and, on DH streams, have been beaten down by the high holiday fishing pressure. UO Guide Hunter P and avid trouter Ray V both hit Smith this week. Vic also came in the shop today (5th) and said the same thing about Fires Creek. Big bobbers and flies spooked fish. Best catches were on dry/dropper combos. The dry (stimmy or Caddis) is a stealthy strike indicator. Drop a weighted 18 or 20 hares ear, pheasant tail, or rainbow warrior a couple feet under it, on 6x. If the afternoon is warm, you might still have a shot at a few risers to the dry. Try the small DH streams and even the bluelines if you insist on a few fish on top.

Big streams: BEST BET. Dredger “Gallouped” to the Chattooga DH on Wednesday (4th) and christened his new four-weight Clearwater rod. He ran a Kelly Galloup drop shot rig under his Airlock indicator, with a peach egg low and a brown rubberlegs 18 inches higher on his 5x tippet, with one or two size B shot anchoring the rig. Fish ate the legs twice as often as the egg. Dredge also used Kelly’s “hand towel in wader pocket” tip to dry his hands and keep them warm, despite fondling a ton of rainbows and two browns in 44-degree water. Change the shot before changing your fly pattern! For example, Dredge fished one prime pool and had only two half-hearted hits. He then added a second size B shot and refished it, with about ten bows coming to hand. Technique trumps fly pattern, so get your fly down to them and you’ll have more hookups.
Tooga fish were podded up in the pools, so prospect the pools, leave the “dry” ones quickly, and hammer those habitats where you strike silver within your first dozen casts. The Toog must have been recently spiced up by the Walhalla boys, since the 18-inch brown, that Dredge missed, ate his Airlock instead of his flies! Fish also nailed his stripped black woolly bomber (bugger with dumbbell eyes) as he waded back down the river to end the afternoon. An Athens duo had similar great luck on drifted rainbow warriors and a stripped conehead leech. They showed Dredge a great pic of a 20-inch brown that inhaled their black leech.
These tips should also work on similar streams like the Tuck, Toccoa, and Nan. Use long tippets and enough shot to bump the bottom and the fish noses just above it.
Private waters: They are Jekyll and Hyde, but fish great with a guide! Jekyll peeks his nose out when the water is low and clear. 6x Fluoro and 18 and 20 nymphs and midges are the ticket when those fish are spooky. Right after a rain, Hyde storms out in the dingy waters and inhales squirmies on 3X and 4x. Use your God-given turbidity meters (submerged toes) to tell you whether you’ll finesse for Jekyll or duke it out with Hyde, and rig accordingly. Or just listen to your guide!

Good luck this weekend and next week. With water temps rising well above 4O, it’s still a great time for some catching! Come see us at the shop for timely intel, hot flies, and more lies. And maybe tape a hook to the bottom of your indicator...

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