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 18, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 12/18/20


Summary: Flows are good after a slight bump from 12/16’s half-inch of rain. Water temps are tolerable - for the fish. As for us, we should wear wool socks and fleece pants under our waders!

https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/uv?site_no=02176930 Fish in the forties will be slower than their former selves at fifty degrees, so expect lower overall catches. But the water is still above 40, so you’ll still enjoy some catches if you employ the standard winter mantra of “low, slow, after lunch, and in the sun.” And the best news is that we have a slight warming trend toward Christmas. Every extra degree counts! And keep an eye out for possible holiday gifts from the GAWRD elves. http://georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Trout For trout, hit the afternoons with your winter techniques of deep and slow with eggs, rubberleg stoneflies, small buggers, and maybe a small nymph dropper off the back. Good nymph patterns: pheasant tail (nymph or soft hackle version), hares ear, rainbow warrior, lightning bug, prince. Aim for the sunny spots! Use a short tapered leader and then a long piece of 3x or 4x tippet to slice through the water column. Finally, knot a foot of 4x or 5x tippet to connect your long leader to your fly, and get some good, drag-free drifts along the bottom. (See “Winter Chuck and Duck” in here: https://rabuntu.org/about/educational-programs/secrets/) For stripers, find the bait via the birds or your Humminbird (fish finder). Henry C says most predators are still deep and on small bait, but birds will show you some surface action. Do more searching than casting and you’ll catch more stripers. Enjoy the latest angler reports and tips from our extended UO family. Headwaters Jimmy slipped out to a local headwater stream last Sunday afternoon. He tossed a dry/dropper combo on his short blueline rod and picked up a nice handful of wild rainbows in a couple hours. One was a real trophy for the tiny stream and stretched to ten inches. None were brave enough to come up to his parachute hares ear dry, and all preferred the small, tungsten prince dropper. Smith DH Web posts and anglers visiting the shop report decent fishing in the colder water. Stealth and deep-dredged eggs and small nymphs are producing. Weekends are busy and your success will be lower if you’re fishing behind a bunch of folks. Try these two techniques. Tip 1: rest a pool when it’s finally yours. Eat a snack, rerig your leader, and admire nature around you for 20 minutes. Then catch them with stealth! Use lighter tippet (6x) and small flies (#18 and 20 pheasant tails, zebra midges, WD40’s, rainbow warriors) that will be different than the standard fare that has pounded them for hours. Sneak up and toss in without false casting and spooking the nervous residents. Tip 2: go on an uncrowded weekday. And Euronymphing works well on any day. Tooga DH UO friend @certifiedflybum reports, “Sunday was a great day to be outside. The sun was bright and warm on our backs, but the fish did not care that it was nice out. The colder weather, plus rainwater from the day before, kept the trout tight to the bottom in deep pools or soft pockets of three feet or better deep water, it's December after all. Success finally came by changing one's mindset from fall to winter techniques, keeping line drifts painfully slow or to a near stall giving the fish time to consider moving on the fly. In the early afternoon sunlight, the fly of the day was an orange bead head with white chenille weighted to tick the bottom. And in the late afternoon, casting dark micro streamers with a bit of flash into soft water and suspending the flies in the drift working the edges of sun and shade got motivated trout curious enough to bite. The slow conditions made the few that did play the reward of the day.” Where are these places? GAWRD shows you here: http://georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Trout All streams are on the interactive map. And you can also scroll down to “artificial lure streams” and click on the DH stream names for individual maps. Private Waters Hunter said, “The family rented a cabin with some private water. After getting them on some nice fish I made a few drifts myself and ended up getting into a long battle with this guy. The 10’ 3Wt. protected my 5x tippet and let me get him to the net. He ate a black rubber leg stone with plenty of lead wire wraps, part of my go to set up that’s a rubber leg stone and either a small rainbow warrior (or similar) or a soft hackle.” UO veteran guide Ron said his clients had some very good days at Rainbow Point on the Soque by deep drifting black stonefly nymphs. Lanier Hank the Yank sez, “Stripers are still scattered all over lake as the weather is cooling and water temps get into the mid 50’s. Fish are starting to bunch up a little more which hopefully means sinking line bite will start soon. Best bets are to still look for surface feeding fish or toss flies on loons. South end of lake is still best by far.” www.henrycowenflyfishing.com More great Lanier striper and spot intel courtesy of UO’s flatwater friends, Mack and Clay: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Fishing-Store/CaptainMacks/about/ https://www.facebook.com/CatchingNotFishing/ Stay distant and safe. If you go, then go local and slow, and be careful in the outdoors. We don’t want to add any more work for our healthcare heroes during these very tough times for all Georgians. May we all count our blessings and then put 2020 behind us. Can I get an Amen to that? Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Unicoi Outfitters.

Friday, December 11, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 12/11/20

Summary: Trout are acclimating to winter conditions and cold weather techniques are now the trick. They are to drift your offering slowly, roll those flies along the bottom, and hit the daily water temp peaks from 11 til 4. Patterns: bigger eggs, rubberleg stones, and small (16-18) rainbow warriors, lightning bugs, hares ears, and pheasant tails if finicky fish in clear water refuse your bigger flies. Dark woolly buggers on deep, slow strips and twitches are another good bet. Some of the hatcheries’ “recent retirees” are now in DH streams and often prefer those bigger bugs. You might find a big brood rainbow, brook, or brown among your December catch.

Lake stripers are slow and scattered. Watch the birds for surface fish and your graphs for deeper bait balls. Downsize your flies to match the small threadfins. Details in Henry C’s report, below. Your biggest challenge will be the weather, with cold and rainy days heading our way after a warm weekend and Saturday night’s rain. Watch your weather app for warm “weather windows” and the USGS river gauges for favorable flow conditions. Don’t forget to dress for success, too, and keep your fingers and toes warm. https://rabuntu.org/about/educational-programs/secrets/more-winter-trouting-tips/ Reports and Tips: Sautee’s Headwater Report: “Last Saturday afternoon was another fun day on the local wild rainbow stream. Nothing on top but they were especially fond of #16 and #18 beadhead hares ear and hares ear with soft hackle trailed about 24” off the back.” Chattooga DH The Retiree Trio of TH, Sautee, and Dredger met distantly in the parking lot and then spread out on the river from 11 til 5 on Wednesday. TH had a great day on deep, slow buggers, and landed several large brown retirees. He said, “The sink tip worked well, but a heavily weighted bugger on a floating line should do the trick. I just kept it low and slow in the water column. Color matters but over the last few trips it has been impossible to know in advance which color matters. So far over December, vanilla, brown, olive and black have all had their day.” The other two had only a fair day farther upstream by chucking their “legs and eggs” combo. They caught mostly bows, with best at 13 inches, and a few browns up to 16 inches. The water was low, clear, and a cold 44F at 2pm. The usual winter tips will help y’all: slow bottom rolls in the midday warmth. TH went back today (11th) and repeated his bugger success. In contrast, Dredger and his distant sidekick, adopted Rabunite “Spunky,” had a good day, with almost all their luck on the egg fly.

Only one bow ate the Pats rubberleg, while Dredger only had one halfhearted bump in 30 minutes of bugger chucking, and no bites on a small pheasant tail or a red copper John. The water was a warmer 47F at 11am and fish were more active than they were on Wednesday.

Private Waters: A group of guests hit the bend on Wednesday with our UO guides. They had pretty good success, but it was pot luck on the bugs, with no clear pattern dominating the catch. They hooked a few on squirmy worms, a few on pheasant tails, and a couple on flashy nymphs like a lightning bug. Anglers have reported good luck on the following flies this week in the shop. Frenchies #16 or #18 Ruby midge #18 Soft hackle partridge #14 or #16 Squirminator #14 Last Sunday students from the North Paulding High School Fly Fishing & Cold-Water Conservation Club made the 2.5-hour drive to Helen Ga. to fish the fabled waters of Nacoochee Bend. Students were assisted by volunteers from the Cohutta and UCCTU Chapters of Trout Unlimited who served as guides, mentors, photographers, and net men! The Georgia Council Chair of Trout Unlimited, Kathy Breithaupt and her husband Charlie, also attended the event. It was a great day on the water. Rodney D. Tumlin Environmental Science Teacher, AP Environmental Science Teacher, Fly Fishing & Cold Water Conservation Club Sponsor Lanier Henry C said, “Fishing on Lanier continues to be fair at best. You have to work hard to get your shots. There is still schooling going on for surface feeding but those fish are tough to get to.
Another option is to throw on top of the working looms to pick a few fish. Sticking to the area of the lake below Browns Bridge is where all of that action is taking place. Keep an eye on all the gulls which have made it back to No GA for clues as to where the fish are.”
While the trout catching may slow down this month as water temps drop, the fishing is still fun. Hit some local waters, wave and shout hello to your buddy parked many feet away, and distance yourselves on the clear, cold waters of North Georgia soon. Stay smart and safe, dear friends. Good luck and good health to you all. We’ll be glad to serve you curbside or online if that works better for you. https://shoponline.unicoioutfitters.com/?source=facebook

Friday, December 4, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 12/4/20

Trout are shaking off the deep freeze and have been more active after recent, warmer days and nights. Afternoons have been hot, even on top! GAWRD’s holiday Delayed Harvest stream redosings now give you shots at both naive Frosh and educated fish, the Sophs and Jrs. (See page Atlanta-2 in here: https://issuu.com/coastalanglermagazine/docs/atlanta_f6cbb10e171441/1)

It’s 6pm and our three hours of steady rain just quit after dumping half to 3/4 inch, which is now bumping up streamflows. Check flows before you go in the morning to ensure your target stream will be at a safe wading level. https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/uv?site_no=02176930 For your best bet at fish fondling this week, hit the top of the daily water temperature swings by aiming for the afternoons. If the water slides up toward 50 degrees, you might even get lucky and hook some trout on top! Best trout bugs right now: eggs, rubberleg stones, mops, and small buggers as lead flies. Then add a size 16-18 pheasant tail, hares ear, or rainbow warrior nymph (or their soft hackle versions) as your droppers. Nightowls can try for Lanier stripers under the lights, or wait til daylight and then birdwatch or graph-watch to find striper schools herding shad and bluebacks. Best fish-flies are Cowen’s Something Else, a Game Changer, and the old standard of a gray/white Clouser minnow. Latest Tips and Trips:

DH Streams: UO friend KevinP said that Smith DH has fished really well for the past several weeks. The biggest challenge has been picking dates and times to avoid the crowds. His best fish nosed just short of 20 inches.

Sautee goretexed-up this afternoon (4th) and hit Smith DH for a few hours in the rain. He texted, “Just got Home. 13 total. All rainbows. Half and half on the pink squirmy and the brown/black rubber legs. Last one on a mop fly. Stream and parking lot to myself. Great evening!”
The UGA Fiver Rivers clubbers reported, “ on Chattooga DH, weekday fishing is where it's at. Fish were still young and dumb and liked the cream mop and rainbow warriors in the deeper (2-3ft) tailouts behind the typical stocker pools. Brookies ate streamers, slow-jigged as deep as you could get them.

Sautee’s 12/3 wild trout report: “With the sun predicted to be out all day and air temps climbing to the mid-50s, it looked to be a good day for trout to thaw out from the morning low of 27 and forage once the water temps started to rise. Hit a local wild rainbow stream about 12:30. Action was slow with a few small rainbows coming on a #18 hare’s ear being bumped along the bottom. Around 2 PM a sparse hatch started in the sunny spots. The only dry fly I had that was close was a #16 Adams, so I tied it on and dropped a #18 grey soft hackle about 18” off the back. Caught a couple more on the soft hackle and had several rises and give my Adam’s a sideways glance before refusing. As the fishing slowed down, I decided to get my dropper down faster so I tied on a #18 beadhead hare’s ear soft hackle, but to float it I needed something more substantial than the Adam’s I was using. The only solution I had with me was a #14 brown elk hair caddis so I tied that on as an indicator. Who knew that would turn out to be the hot fly for the day. Over the next 2 hours, fish rose repeatedly to take my caddis. However, the best fish of the day was an 11” wild rainbow that took my dropper. Another fine rainbow in the 9-10” range also took my dropper but shook me off before I could get him in. It turned out to be an excellent day on the water and was a great surprise to catch so many on top with a fly I didn’t expect much from except to serve as an indicator. The afternoon sun turned out to be the key factor in making this a fine day to be on a quiet blue line with nobody but me and the fish!”
UO neighbor “KM” reported his first sighting of little black stoneflies on a local, low elevation stream. So get ready for this winter bug to start emerging this month on our higher streams and bring a few trout noses to the top on warm afternoons. What bug? https://www.fieldandstream.com/articles/fishing/2014/01/winter-trout-flies-hatching-stoneflies/ UO’s private waters are still fishing very well for clients and guides, especially when the waters warm by midmorning. Eggs and stoneflies are working in big waters, while smaller nymphs produce better when river flows run low and clear. Pescador gave this Athens flatwater report: “Warm water fish are still eating on sunny days. Found some nice crappie willing to eat a small streamer.” My Euronymphing mentor, Landon, provided this Lanier report: “We’ve done decent on some docklight fish the last couple weeks. They are pretty spooky so taking a couple casts and bouncing around on lights has been key.” Capt Mack’s latest lake intel: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Fishing-Store/CaptainMacks/posts/ This week’s GAWRD fishing report is also chock-full of extra stream and lake intel! Check it out here: https://georgiawildlife.blog/category/fishing/ That’s the latest from our Unicoi Outfitters gang. Stay distant and safe and protect your family, friends, and health care workers this season. Good luck!

Friday, November 27, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 11/27/20

Welcome to “Thanksgiving Leftovers.”  The UO Intel Bird is pretty picked over after serving you up three helpings of timely Facebook fodder this week: Monday risers, Tuesday legs and eggs, and yesterday’s streamflows and new Delayed Harvest stockers.   We do have some nice pics from those trips and some time-tested advice for your week ahead.  Get your smaller plate ready; here we go.

The weather and water will change soon and savvy anglers will change their techniques to match water conditions.  Most trout waters dropped to wadeable levels today, and warm weather tomorrow will keep them prime for one more day.

On headwaters, try one last shot on top with dry/dropper combos. Start with a caddis, stimulator, or Adams dry. If no lookers in 30 minutes, drop a #16 beaded pheasant tail or hares ear 1-3 feet behind it, depending on the depths you’re fishing. Try this rig at Smith DH, too, if fish have been hammered by heavy weekend pressure. Don’t be afraid to pull out your 6x and zebra midges, either. Add a #6 Dinsmore shot if you need to get the dropper down.

The good news on DH streams is their DNR redosing, so you can aim now for both frosh and sophs.  See our “DH University” tips in our November Angler magazine column. 

For new arrivals, try something flashy or buggy as your first fly: egg, rubberlegs, or small black or olive woolly bugger.  If they don’t eat the drift, remember to strip or twitch! For the smarter sophs, drop down a tippet size to 5 or 6x and try a #16 or 18 pheasant tail, prince, hares ear, or lightning bug as your trailer.

Waters are warm now and trout will swim up a foot or two to your fly tomorrow, but cold water after that will glue them to the bottom. Consider changing the number of split shot and the depth of your strike indicator before changing fly patterns. A good drift at nose level is typically more important than fly pattern. If you’re not losing a few flies on the bottom, you’re not fishing deep enough.

Most importantly, find the slower, deeper spots. Most DH fish have now been washed downstream into softer refuges by November floods. Leave the fast riffles alone til emerging spring nymphs chum fish back into them.  Prospect the pools and slower, deeper runs.

Sunday storms and next week’s arctic chill will chauffeur in winter fishing conditions. Be ready to go low, slow, and deep when those stream temps plummet.  In terms of flow spikes, recall our October Angler magazine article on reading flow curves and fishing them safely and effectively. Based on my frozen fingers and shins on Tuesday, dig out your fleece pants and gloves, too!

Private water fish will follow the same temperature trends as the public fish. Fishing’s been good for our clients on egg and stonefly patterns, and then small nymphs when the sun is high and the water is clear. Our guides have that instream experience and can dial in the “hot pattern of the day” for their guests. Hunter guided his gal, Casey, to success this week. He reports:
“No streamer action, but it wasn’t ideal conditions by the time we tried it. We had the most luck on legs, some eggs, but mainly small flashy nymphs.  Rainbow warriors, lighting bugs, and flashback hares ears did the trick.”

We’ve been too busy trouting to sample area lakes, but our flatwater buddy Henry C just checked in.  He said this week’s shallow striper bite was very slow, but Lanier’s spots compensated a bit for the striped fish.  He hopes it picks up after next week’s fronts pass through.  His book is still great, though (I’m up to page 157), so keep it in mind for a stocking stuffer.

And for more great Lanier intel, always check our friend Capt Mack’s page!

Go trout hunting soon before the floods and ice come. After that, bundle up, hit the 11am-3pm window, and add more shot til you bounce the bottom of deep, slow pools.

Good luck. And thanks for your patronage- from our Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials to your regular resupply trips. Stay distant and safe to help family and our health care workers, and share your holiday fish stories with us!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 11/25/20

Rather than waiting til our regular Friday report, here’s some more quick intel, in case you’re off this week and can put it to immediate use.

Workforce delinquents (aka retirees) Sautee and Dredger hit the Tooga DH yesterday afternoon. Water was low (2.0 on Clayton gauge) and clear. Fishing was great and catching was good. Good is the average between fair on long stretches and great in honey holes.

Best bugs were the “legs and eggs” combo, with a mix of bows and browns fondled. No brutes yesterday. Sautee’s hot fly was the Why Me. That’s the fly formerly known as the Y2K after its honey hole mugging.  Water temp fifty at our 5pm walkout.

There’s your latest chapter in “Thanksgiving fishing with Unicoi Outfitters”. Call, email, or stop by either store if we can lend a hand. We’ll even serve you curbside, or online via our new holiday gift guide.  Stay distant, safe, and thankful this season. Good luck!

Addendum: After this post, we were asked what “legs and eggs” are.  Here’s our explanation that should help all new anglers.   The “legs and eggs” concept refers to the use of some sort of rubber leg stonefly pattern as the “legs” and some sort of egg or Y2K pattern as the “eggs”. You can either fish these together as a tandem rig, or use your favorite legs or eggs and use a smaller more natural nymph with it as a tandem rig. The legs and eggs rig with both tends to work great for freshly stocked fish, and as they begin to become more educated the legs or eggs and a smaller nymph works well to offer flies to both the naive and educated fish. Both rigs work best with enough split shot to reach the bottom and you want your indicator roughly 1.5-2 times the depth of the water to really let them sink down deep.

Monday, November 23, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 11/23/20

It’s still Monday, right?  Why don’t we make this a “Cyber-Monday for Trouting Intel?” For the simple, prepaid  “cost” of your UO Facebook page follow, we’re providing this timely intel from a few hours ago.  What a deal!

A warm day and 50-degree water can create “back eddies and BWO’s.” Be on the lookout for blue wing olives! 

Remember my prior post about looking at the stream before rigging up. Today on Nan DH the BWO’s popped from noon til about 2:30. Good spots to find risers are the bankside eddies, where the slow upstream whirlpools go round and round, and keep delivering groceries to suspended fish. Many fish actually face downstream, since the eddy current is coming back in the opposite direction to the main streamflow. Enjoy the video I shot (before I caught...)

Walk the bank slowly and see what’s going on. You might be pleasantly surprised, like we were today, as bugs flittered by and fish noses poked up along the banks.  Then rig up and cast.

We caught most fish  on the small fly off the back (my #20 BWO dry and Sautee’s #16 soft hackle emerger).  But we also caught several nice fish, including wild bows, on our big first flies, used as strike indicators. I had a #14 parachute Adams and Sautee had a #10 orange stimulator, which a massive brown crushed, ran and broke off, and broke Sautee’s heart. But he has an address now...

Watch the weather report for warm days, stick your thermometer in the water, and take time to be the heron: look for fish and bugs. And you might just find a few Holiday  “treats on top,” too!

Good luck. Stay distant and safe, and thanks for your patronage. Happy Thanksgiving from the UO clan.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Sodium-Free Stripers - 11/21/20

Here’s “Henry’s Hot Intel” that we received late yesterday! Hope it helps your weekend hunts on Lanier, Hartwell, Toona, etc.  Hank reports, “Lanier fish are still on top mostly below browns bridge. 

They are up and down quickly in groups as small as 2-4 and as large as 30-40. Early and late is best. Probaby give the nod to PM being a tad more consistent. Somethin else and micro game changers are best flies on intermediate lines.”

If you’re serious about sodium-free stripers, buy his awesome book! I’ve already gotten to page 130 myself.

It covers freshwater striper movements, baits, and fishing techniques in both lakes and rivers and will help all anglers (bait, fly, or lure) to find these elusive fish.  If you haven’t been into your reel’s backing in a while, give these aquatic locomotives a try!  Don’t bring anything less than a 7-weight if you want a chance at a photo!

Good luck this weekend.  Now back to Hank’s book...

Friday, November 20, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 11/20/20

Welcome to your holiday fishing report! Here’s your bottom line, based on the past week’s trip results:  

Trout waters are super-clear, cold, and flowing well. We are dry til Wednesday.   Catching will be better in the afternoons as water temps warm from the low 40’s to the high 40’s. Fish are in the slower water, taking refuge from fast flows. Naive ones are still taking junk flies like legs, eggs, and mops.  (See our 11/17FB post on legs and eggs!).  A few new (11/1) stockers and all the residents are smartening up, so be ready with small, natural nymphs and Eurojigs if your junk flies (11/16 FB post) start striking out.  Colder lake waters should have more stripers coming up to chase threadfins at dawn and dusk.

Avoid the crowds to have better fishing and lower health risks.  Fish on weekdays or outwalk other anglers for plenty of fishing space. Here we go with some Thanksgiving hope for y’all.

Smith DH
UO buddy RonW sez,
“Met Mog up at Smiths this morning (14th) for a few hours. I was the first one in the lot at 7am but by the time I got my waders on, there were 6 other people there. The water was up and running fast! Fishing the breaks in the current was the ticket. The bank side eddies paid off as they always do in high water. I started off with my signature Pumpkin WB and it didn't take long for it to produce.  I stepped into my first run of the day and made a few casts when I noticed a big splash on the far side. Threw over there...strip strip boom...a nice 14-15" brown obliged! We worked down all the way to the bottom of the DH, picking up a half a dozen or more fish here and there.  The creek has changed in several places for sure.  We worked our way back to the top and finished the day around noon "flossing the teeth",  picking up a few more on the bugger which stayed on point all day.  We were also treated to some rising fish, which Kurt connected on.  Unfortunately I couldn't seal the deal (bass hooksets).  Big fish of the day was Kurt's 16-17" brown.  The fish are still learning their way but it won't be much longer before they wise up.  My purple hot wire nymph with chartreuse tungsten bead worked really well as a dropper, as did the egg .
Great day on the water in my book...wait,  any day on the water is a great day! “

Sautee hit Smith DH late last weekend and found a crowd.  He patiently waited, out of site, until each angler would leave a nice pool. He then fished behind them and did pretty well on eggs and nymphs. He felt that his secret to higher success than other anglers was his extra split shot.

UO friend “Nurse Kitty”
had a fun Sunday afternoon on Dukes Creek. She hooked about five and landed one chunky rainbow. It was a great learning experience as she “paid her dues” in only her second trip to this stream full of PhD trout, especially in clear water. The fish taught her valuable lessons on dead drifting, fighting big fish, and netting them. The lost ones and the landed bow all contributed to a great weekend of much-needed hydrotherapy. Congrats Kitty!

We’ve had no recent reports, as most folks are aiming toward the bigger, warmer waters. You should still be able to catch a few frozen blueliners if you hit the warm afternoons and be ready with a dropper nymph if those wild fish are too cold to rise to your dry.

UO buddy Athens Alan reports, “Made my first trip of the Fall 2020 DH season on Saturday. Beautiful sunny day; felt great to be in the river. Parked on the GA side and walked up the access road at 10:15. Two guys were fishing at the crossover point and one was below them. I crossed over and headed upstream. River was pretty high (2.5 on Hwy 76 gauge) and I was glad to have packed along the wading staff!

Fished with an indicator and a Y2K and black bead head stonefly with rubber legs.
Picked up first 10” bow on Y2K and then two more on the black stonefly. Fished up to IDBIS Creek, stopped and ate lunch, then tied on a parachute purple haze and tiny pmd. Got a pretty 8” brown to come all the way out of the water to hammer the pmd!

I didn’t see anyone else until I got back down to the crossover point.  An angler was In the river there and his buddy was just below him. I could see two more guys below them.  By that time it was a little after 4:00 and I hiked back out. Not a ton of catching, but was good to be in the river. 

Several of the large trees in the upper section that had been in the river have washed out changing the look of things up there.Lots of sunshine this week, hopefully the river will drop to a more fishable level.”

Dredger hit Tooga DH on Monday (16th: see our 17th FB post).  He found the vast majority of fish flushed into flood refuges by recent high flows. Refuges are deep pools below rock ledges and slow, deep bankside eddies. They ate dead drifted eggs and rubberlegs- when the legs were twitched. A few were hooked on a stripped bugger, but that pattern was much less effective than a week ago, as expected.  The third place finisher was actually his 3/4 inch, orange Airlock indicator! Several fish came up to eat this big “Purina pellet,”showing that they’re still fresh out of Walhalla Hatchery.

Only about 20% of the fish seemed to be adapting to their new environments and lining up in riffles and runs to intercept drifting groceries. He got them on drifted eggs. They will smarten up soon due to hunger and hookups on junk flies, then more fish will line up in these prime habitats.

The trio of Unico Guru, Sautee, and Dredger drove separately and distantly convened along Nan DH on Wednesday (18th). Water was clear and 44F at 11am, rising to 47 at four.  Flow was good, much higher than the historically low flow in fall, and wading was fine with a staff and a belt.  A few #18 gray caddis adults were seen “frozen” to streamside rocks and praying for sunshine to thaw them. Lots of cased caddis were seen on underwater boulders.
Only a few fish were seen suspended, which meant the rest were glued to the bottom.
Catching started slowly on a variety of our favorite small, traditional and Euro nymphs (good in clear water) til the gorge warmed after lunch.  Then it was on! Hot bug of the day was what our UO buddy Ron W calls “janitorial supply:” the infamous mop. The winning combo was a) warmer water, b) slower spots (either deep midstream pools or slow bankside runs with some depth), and c) that big, easy tungsten mop bumping bottom.  All three species were fondled, with biggest fish a 14” brook and 17” bow, and with best fish a colorful 10” wild bow.  Best “catch” of the day was our view of the young bald Eagle perched above us, and then providing a flyover.

Tip: if you don’t have tungsten mops, buy the unleaded flies and a bag of 4mm tungsten beads, and slip a bead up your tippet before you tie on the fly.

Private Waters
Ed Barnes caught a bunch of nice rainbows on a double-dip trip with UO guide Coach Mac They fished the morning at Riverside and the afternoon at Rainbow Point on the Soque. Coach Mac’s special recipes of eggs and nymphs produced, as always.

UO guide and Clarkesville store manager Hunter Pittman had a great time guiding a daddy/daughter duo at Nacoochee Bend. Dredged eggs and nymphs and even a stripped streamer (sparkle minnow) worked as the morning waters warmed. 

Lanier striper chasing will be worth a shot as cold air finally cools off the lake surface and brings bait schools to the top. The stripers and spots will be under them.  Since we don’t have many clouds in the forecast, it might be a short bite window early and late, when the sun is low a d fish are shallow.  

As Henry C sez, be a birdwatcher.  Use your binocs to spot diving gulls and wading herons with extended necks.

Your best source of intel is Henry’s brand-new book! “Fly Fishing for Fresh Water Striped Bass” has all of his tips in one spot. And For only $17! We still have some in the shop and another order on the way. Get this book if you want to significantly improve your odds for lake and river stripers on the fly or lure!

You can find this book and other great  products in our brand-new 


Just added to the menu of our online store:

We hope that all of you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, even if you are physically distant from most family and friends.  May Mother Nature’s therapy of a crystal clear trout stream and crisp mountain air help you to hang in there. It’s working for us. May we all be thankful for the abundant blessings that still surround us. Good luck and please be safe as you enjoy your holiday week.

Friday, November 13, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 11/13/20

This week’s theme is “try the tribs.”  Back-to-back tropical storms have our larger rivers still running very high and unsafe for most wading anglers. This weekend, head toward tributary streams, small lakes like Vogel, or big reservoirs for stripers on top.  Here’s the latest intel and some fishing reports gathered prior to this week’s 2.5 to 3.5 additional inches of rain dropped on north Georgia, before the last storm’s flows could recede!

I cruised a stream circuit today (13th) prior to watching the Chattooga River copter stocking event. The Hooch in Helen, Moccasin, Tallulah, and Chattooga were all very high, slightly cloudy, and still ripping along. (See all the storm debris piled up on the Burton Hatchery dam/intake).  They’re gonna need several more days to shed their stormflows and return to safe wading levels. 

Pay close attention to USGS streamflow gauges and call local fly shops to know current stream conditions.  Be careful- these are strong flows ripping through narrow stream channels!

We’d like to thank the US Forest Service, DNR, and county road crews for clearing the forest roads up here. I counted four Zeta-induced landslides on Tallulah River Road that the Feds cleared for us river recreationists and Tate City’s residents. 

When they drop, try some big, heavy stuff (tungsten mops, rubberlegs, and weighted Y2K’s, Glo bugs, and Woolly buggers) to get some attention.

Here’s a Delayed Harvest stream tip: aim accurately for schooled and unschooled fish. Schooled fish have been hammered by early season crowds and have already smartened up. Try some small (16-20) wets and nymphs on thinner (5, 6x) tippet to fool them. It’s usually not the fly pattern, but a natural drift that will get you more strikes.

The unschooled fish are naive ones out of reach to most anglers. They’re under logjams and in eddies on the far side of the river. Try swinging a small bugger into these gnarly spots (by pointing your rod and mending big loops to steer the fly) and twitch the bugger in these unfished niches.

Best bets right now are the upper ends of these big streams and all of their small tributaries.  Smaller streams have shed a lot of water and give you a chance to wade them. With a few more days of warm weather, try dry/dropper combos in soft (slow) spots. You’ll catch them before lunch on your flashy droppers like beaded pheasant tails and hare’s ears. After lunch, have hope for a few afternoon eats on top. Try high floaters like stimulators and small chubby chernobyls, and you might catch a few risers in November.

UO friend Ron W said he and his usual accomplices had a big time on Dukes at Smithgall Woods last Saturday. The trio has paid their dues and figured the fish out. He said:
“Hammered em today at Duke's! Also got to test out the first net I've ever built.  I need to build a bigger one for Duke's and bigger streams. This was built for small stream fishing in mind but I  finished it yesterday and just had to get some slime on her.  We caught fish on buggers, PT,  black stones etc.  Hooked and fought one easily 24".  Never saw him until after he broke me off 30 seconds into the battle. He then proceeded to jump four times, apparently he didn't like his new piercing. My best fish landed was just over 20 inches.”

Dredger hit the Smokies on Monday and had a good time. He got a late start after some elk distractions, then had high hopes with two chunky bows to hand in the first 15 minutes. They ate a mop and a rubberlegs.  Then the high sun and crystal clear water beat him up, badly. He landed just two tiny trout over the next four hours.  He tried to save face by hitting smaller pocket water, upstream, as the sun fell, and was rewarded with another 8 bows. Half ate the stimmy dry.

Hunter said that pre-flood anglers on our private waters did well, despite the lingering high flows from Zeta. He said,
“Armed services buddies Karl and Steve had a great time enjoying some hydrotherapy at Nacoochee Bend this past weekend. Had some action on everything from nymphs to streamers and even some dry fly action.They also had a great time fished Riverside on the Soque with UO guide Ron.  

I fished Ami DH before the flood and did well with legs and eggs. The rainbows hadn’t spread out yet, but I bet they are now, after this high water.”

Henry C and Jimmy said that Lanier stripers are surfacing more often these days. Try early and late, watch for birds, graph for bait schools, and go slow in river arms to see and dodge big storm debris.

That’s the latest from our Unicoi Outfitters gang. Give us a shout (706-878-3083) if we can point you in the right direction while we wait for our rivers to recede - again!  Please, please be smart, socially distant, and safe.  Good luck!

The Border Bird - 11/13/20

The Border Bird completed its second and final flight today (13th), delivering GADNR’s share of trout to the Chattooga River backcountry between Highway 28 and Burrell’s Ford. Today’s efforts finish up the annual co-op stocking effort among the US Forest Service, GADNR, SCDNR, and Trout Unlimited in both border states.  

Have fun with your backcountry trouting excursions this fall and especially next spring! Unicoi Outfitters salutes all partners in this 35-year success story on the Chattooga River.

PS: our Friday Facebook fishing report is forthcoming. Be careful; the big trout rivers are still very high. You might wish to wait a few days before wading them.

Friday, November 6, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 11/6/20

The weather is great and streamflows are dropping, so it’s a fine time to wet a line. It looks like we’ll be dry til at least Tuesday, and the warm days will keep afternoon stream temps up in the fifties.  Expect big crowds, esp on prime weekend days and times, so make plans to avoid them and stay safe.  Go on a weekday if you can! If you’re a rookie fly flinger, don’t miss our post and video this week on the drag-free drift. Practice this technique and you’ll catch more fish. (Trust me on this one.) Now here’s our latest hillbilly intel to get you set for your trips north.

This atypical warm spell might give blueline fans your “third last chance” at little wild fish this fall. We have no recent reports, but predict that warm afternoon stream temps will have fish on the feed. Stick with the dry/dropper menu and let the fish pick their flavors. If you’re lucky and the afternoon sun is warm and bright, they’ll look up. Stimmies, Caddis, and Adams are good choices for your “bobbers.”

DH streams are fishing as predicted. GA fish are gullible, while NC fish are smartening up. Remember, however, that DH trout will learn quickly from all this heavy fishing pressure, so be ready with smaller flies and thinner tippet.

Landon hit Smith DH early this week and did well on rubberlegs, leeches, and big hares ears.  He said fish were spread out real well, so try the small pockets and runs between the prime pools.

Sautee and Dredger met at the SC lot yesterday (11/5)and stayed two or more rod lengths apart as they taught Bugger Aversion 101 to Border River’s new residents. Water temp 53 at their noon start.   Class graduates were mostly bows, with a couple browns. Few wanted the legs or eggs, but many crushed the stripped buggers. Wading staffs were almost as important as the flies.

Tip: fish downstream and cover a lot of water to strike gold.   Cast down and across, mend up a time or two to sink it, put your rod tip in the water, and then strip the bigger back up in quick 4-inch strips. Olive (pic) and black worked equally well, especially with a big shot or two crimped a foot above the bug.

New UO staffer Abe and his girlfriend had a tough day on big, cold water in Fires Creek.
They had no luck on streamers and princes, but hooked up on squirmies and a green caddis larva.

Dredger hit Nan DH on 11/4 and was surprised to find more whitewater than flat water! The raging flow seemed higher than what the USGS gauge, on the river above the lake, would suggest. Either the tribs were still pumping in stormflows or there may be been some release from the lake.

He pulled out his Euro rod, hugged the near bank, and dropped a big tungsten, tan mop in the soft spots for success on a few stockers and a nice handful of wild, potbellied bows. 

Hints: hit the flood refuges, where fish might have washed into after last week’s flood. Also try a long (5-6ft) tippet below your sighter to get deep, quickly. Fish ignored the sexy walts and the small stuff (frenchie, surveyor) and only one ate a beaded prince. He ended up using that one big mop for most eats in the raging flows.

It was a similar theme on private waters: a slow start during cold mornings, and then a good afternoon bite when flies hugged the bottom in big flows. UO guide Hunter:
“ Some fresh private water intel after this cold snap:
Typical cold snap conditions,
Bite picked up more around midday as expected. A few on junk flies, but most wanted smaller more natural stuff. Hares ears, small rainbow warriors, soft hackle. Most were picked up dredging but still some action on the swing, but not as much as before the cold snap.   My keys to client success this week: 1) Natural drifts and getting deep, 2) Legs and eggs and small natural nymphs, and of course, 3) a lot of split shot !”

Jimmy gave Lanier a shot yesterday (5th).   He chased a lot of Striper schools but couldn’t catch up to them quick enough for a hookup. He said to aim for the lower end and watch both open water and the mouths of major creeks and coves. Fish are up and down super-quick, and are on small Shad.  Have Two rods ready: a spinner with a  Sebile plug and a fly rod with a small Cowen’ s Something Else. Watch for the few early-arriving gulls, too, as strike indicators.

That’s our latest hillbilly intel.  All of this weekly scouting and angling is a tough job, but we’re up to the task in service to y’all.  Stay safe and distant. Know your own safe wading levels and tread slowly on bigger waters while they continue to recede.  Plan your trips early, late, or on weekdays to avoid the crowds. Give us a call 706-878-3083) or email if we can help with your hydrotherapy trip via our store, our front porch, or our mailed goodies.   Good luck from all of us at Unicoi Outfitters.