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 21, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 2/21/20

This week’s theme is “proceed with caution.” As we dry out and are now anxious to cure our cabin fever, we should think of a blinking yellow light during our trip planning. Why?

Right now (2/21 at 8AM) we must navigate continued high streamflows, black ice (especially in the shade of curvy mountain roads), icy-cold water that we don’t want to fall in, flooded reservoirs and parking lots, and dangerous lake navigation hazards such floating logs, detached docks, and submerged fences, walkways, and even picnic tables. Think YELLOW and, if you go, proceed with caution! When in doubt, play it safe and stay home.

On the good news side, we missed a full monsoon up here yesterday and are now drying out. Only a half-inch of rain fell, which did not bump up (already high) streamflows very much.
We’ll soon warm up and lose the black ice, at least where the sun will shine. Watch for slick spots in the shade, however. We also have at least three dry days coming and they’re finally landing on a weekend. Streamflows therefore continue to drop, albeit slowwwwly. Small streams are returning to fishable flows now, while larger waters may drop to safe wading levels over the week ahead. They will depend, once again, on how much rain falls at midweek.
Think of that blinking yellow light as you pick your streams, lakes, and departure dates. Everyone needs to know his/her own personal limits to their wading ability and the streamflows that are conducive to their safe wading. The same goes for impoundments. How well do you know your launch ramp, navigation route, and submerged, hidden risks along the way? As you make your own risk/reward analysis, know that it’s better to err on the side of caution. When in doubt, don’t go. Why? You’ll fish many more years and make many more angling memories!
One tool that has helped my trouting plans is the notes page on my smart phone. After a day of wade fishing, I’ll go home, check the web for the closest USGS stream gauge (my favorite streams are bookmarked) and record the gauge height or CFS on that notes page. Then I’ll write a sentence or two on my wading experience that day. Examples of my notes are “blown out,” “don’t cross stream, stay on west side and fish near bank,” “high but fishable,” and “easy wading today.” After three decades of trips up here, I have a good reference page that helps me relate to those flows on the internet gauges and make my go/no-go decisions. Maybe this “fishing flow log” idea will help some of you.
Flows are still high, and now we have dropping water temperatures again, so slide back into winter trouting mode: go low and slow and after lunch. Add some extra weight and bump trout on their noses. Despite last week’s high flows, we do have a few reports to share. Here we go.
On the trouting front, we don’t have any private waters reports. The larger trout streams generally were still too high for safe wading by clients. Smaller waters were fishable. Experienced wader Landon said he hit both Dukes and Smith DH last weekend and had decent days by dredging leeches, pheasant tails, and small olive soft hackles in the soft water pockets he could find.
Dredger hit one stream with a long history of his trips, found a few soft waters within casting distance of the bank, and did well by alternating among a brown Pat’s rubberlegs, a Y2K, and a cream mop on a 4mm silver tungsten bead.

Smaller fish rose on the sunny afternoon to the egg-laying winter stoneflies that were dipping down to the surface. He ignored them to dredge for heftier fish, and was rewarded with some nice rainbows and browns excavated from the bankside flood refuges.
Lanier bassin’ fans have some new bankside cover to pitch their spinnerbaits and jigs toward, as Lanier heads toward an all-time high. I hear the picnic tables are hotspots.😉 Enjoy the pics of upper Lanier, taken on my Wednesday trip to Gainesville. Seriously, many Lanier ramps are closed and a lot of floating debris, like whole logs, makes navigation hazardous.
Captain Mack has one of the best lake reports for our weekend trip planning:
On the walleye front, WRD says it’s still a bit early for the spring spawning runs,
but a few fish are starting to head uplake (right, Jake?😉). Stay tuned into the WRD weekly fishing blog for timely updates on early spring runs of walleye, whites, hybrids, and stripers. After all, they’re allowed to use the best bait of all time: electricity! Go to this page and click on the “walleye” and “fishing blog” links for timely intel by your fine Fisheries folks. (Okay, I admit some slight bias😉)
Stocker fans should know that Burton Hatchery renovations are big news. I passed the place on my way to a Tuesday Rabun TU meeting and saw a new dam and water intake, and big holes in the ground where buildings and raceways has existed. We wish DNR the best of luck in rebuilding a hatchery that will serve us well for the next 50 years. More here:
We hope that this “cautiously optimistic” report gives you a little hope for your fishing future. At least it should entertain you while you’re on the sidelines, waiting for thawed roads and your own personal, safe wading level to show up on the stream gauge. Good luck as you “proceed with caution. “

No comments:

Post a Comment