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, January 24, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 1/24/20

This week’s theme was coined by Jake this morning: anglers will “need an anvil” as overnight storms dumped an average of two inches on north Georgia watersheds. Right now (Friday at 3pm), our rivers are high and muddy and ripping! The Hooch in Helen is running about 700 cfs, way above the normal 160 cfs or so historic average for this day. The rain continues, but radar shows it clearing out shortly.

Big waters are gonna take two or more days to drop and clear to fishable levels, while small streams might drop to acceptable flows overnight. Just know your own safe wading levels and check USGS stream gauges or local tackle shops before you go.
The silver lining in all this cloudy news is rising air temps. Anyone lucky enough to fish during the upcoming weekdays will find a great combo of rising water temps and falling flows. If water temps are at least in the mid-40’s, and flows are still higher than normal but slightly discolored, anglers will have the advantage. Fish will wanna eat, but will have to make quicker decisions on drifting fodder, and will eat bigger flies on thicker tippet. We like that! Remember that lower elevation Georgia streams will be a few degrees warmer than NC streams. On really cold days those few degrees can make a big difference in trout appetites.
For hot patterns, the same winter best bets continue to hold true for this week: legs, eggs, buggers and leeches, and smaller stuff like princes and pheasant tails only after we can look thru three feet of stream and see our wading shoes again. Don’t forget little black stones, like our copper johns and lightning bugs in that color, since winter stoneflies are on the march now.
We have restocked some killer winter patterns here at the shop. The creator of the Y2K bug, Dr Dave Knowles from Arkansas, provided a big handful of our high demand patterns for GA traditionalists, including Y2K’s, fire eggs, root beer and ruby midges, and rainbow warriors. For our young guns, Jake tied up the new Eggstacy eggs in two colors, and Wes stocked up on UV2 roe yarn for the tiers among you.

Eggs and rubberlegs will continue to be a big hit for another month of cold, high water, until we see some spring nymphs getting restless in the warmer March flows and switch our eggs to big hares ears.
It was cold last week and angling effort and catches were both off, as expected. Folks here at Nacoochee Bend caught some nice rainbows on eggs, legs, and princes when the water warmed slightly after lunch. We’re proud of those tenacious gals with the GA Women Flyfishers, who braved the cold earlier this week and landed some chunky rainbows here at the Bend. Our friend “BigBrowns” shared this pre-monsoon Fires Creek report:
My buddy Stuart and I went up to fires creek yesterday (22nd). Spent the morning on the DH. Caught a 1/2 dozen or so each. Legs and eggs, Buggers and small natural nymphs, all fished deep of course. We spent the afternoon up above the DH in the wild water and had a really great afternoon, especially since us was a good 10 degrees warmer in the afternoon. Landed some nice browns in the DH and plenty of beautiful wild bows up top.

We took the road all the way up to around 3000' and found a really nice feeder creek that looked really promising. Will check that out next time for sure.
Dukes vet Landon finally filled his freezer with venison and swapped his rifle for his fly rod. He “landed” a Smithgall no-show slot last Sunday (19th) and had a big time, despite the cold. Here are his early and ending texts on that day:
Stonefly is winning over little stuff 3:1 right now.
Ended up with 21. Biggest was about 22”. Off the water early at 1430 when it got a bit too crowded for my taste. They ate the big bugs early and got off the big stuff once the sun came out, just random 16-18’s dropped off the back of a leech.
So there’s hope for us during the coming week. Keep your winter attire and equipment in your vehicles and go when the flows allow. With some high fifties in our weather forecast, the end of the week is looking real good for a rebound.
We’ll close this report with a quick look back and a glance forward. Thanks for the your fellowship at last Saturday’s Rabun Rendezvous, a great party of about 200 finatics. And we look forward to seeing you next Friday and Saturday at the Atlanta Fly Show. The lucky number there is F11.😉

Good luck and be safe while wading. It’s the time of the year for SIZE over numbers, so swing for the fences!

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