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, February 14, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 2/14/20

Right now we have a brief, pleasant change: blue skies and green water. It has finally dried out and the sun is shining down upon north Georgia, at least for a few days until another inch of rain falls on Tuesday. This week’s fishing forecast is basically a repeat of last week’s: nearly all streams are blown out. It’s not surprising when we look at the river gauges and find that a foot of rain has fallen on northeast Georgia over the last nine days. I toured local waters today and found the Soque real high (see Mark of the Potter video), the Hooch in Helen

ripping along at 4 times the safe flow for our clients, Dukes Creek still boasting standing waves, and Smith DH ripping but fishable for real careful waders and smart bank anglers. Region water levels are so high that Lanier might set a lake elevation record this week, with many ramps and parks closed by high water.

It’s still a good time to tie flies,
read some great blogs,
or listen to Tom Rosenbauer’s awesome Orvis podcasts. Have you wondered about nylon vs fluoro tippet? Tune in:
Our streams are high, but they’re clearing. Instead of chocolate milk, they now have a slight greenish-brown tint to them from the fine sediments carried by those strong flows. Trout fishing opportunities will again be limited to small streams and maybe the lake at Vogel State Park. Try casting along the dam and at the mouth of Wolf Creek where it empties into the lake. For small streams, look for flood refuges and pick your wading spots carefully. Even the small streams are slow to recede right now because of the constant, heavy rains during the last week.
The sun brought out a small angler hatch today on Smith DH. Yours truly found Rabunite buddy D.D. and fishing friend Bama Vic along the creek and we compared notes. All three had lengthy trout droughts until we found the few calm spots along the ripping stream channel. We found success in those eddies and deep pools with big (16) rainbow warriors, small dark Euronymphs and midges, and heavy (4mm) cream mops, fished DEEP.

Squirmies got a few half-hearted hits, but our legs, eggs, and buggers were ignored. It was still nice to finally wet a line, and our trio’s combined tally was a handful of rainbows, a few chunky browns, and even a few hungry, displaced redbreasts that likely survived a roller coaster ride from Unicoi Lake. The last fish was fondled around 6pm, so beat the expected weekend crowd by going early or late. Remember to check-in at the Lodge first, for the free fishing permit, before hitting the creek.
Despite the floods, there is some hope. Streams should slowly recede and provide more opportunities with each passing day of runoff. More importantly, it’s trophy trout season. Why? They have two “ reasons to leave” right now. The first is obvious: floods. The second is “rainbow romance:” spawning season. Look for big fish traversing public waters this month and next as a) flood wash-downs and b) spawner swim-ups. More tips are here, in the “big fish” program on the Rabunite Secrets page.
Be ready to strip a streamer or drift a big egg as soon as streamflows won’t knock you down.
Fly tying is still your safer bet this week, but if you have to wet a line, don’t wade deep or don’t wade at all. Pick some small streams and hit their eddies, especially when their flows drop some more. Flood flows are a bummer, but we’ll take them over extreme droughts and 20,000-acre forest fires any day! Good luck. Be safe.

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