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 28, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 2/28/20

We are “high, clear, and cold” this week. It should actually be a pretty good fishing weekend, as streamflows finally drop to fishable levels across all but the largest trout waters. Our biggest challenges will still be double the normal streamflows for this time of year,

along with water temperatures sliding down toward that dreaded 40-degree mark of trout lethargy. We’re also expecting a half to two inches of snow at high elevations tonight. The bottom line: camp out early at Huddle House! Take your time in the morning to let the mountain roads thaw and clear, and let the stream temperatures head back toward the mid-40’s, or a bit higher if we’re lucky. Hit the streams hard and deep at lunchtime.
One other tip: go for thinner tippets and smaller, natural fly patterns. The gin-clear waters and their slightly slower velocities are allowing extra salmonid scrutiny of your offerings, so be ready to replace your gaudy Y2K with a softer colored apricot egg, and your big, bright lightning bug with a smaller pheasant tail or hares ear. Angler reports were more abundant over the past week, so we’ll share them with you now.

Private waters have just started to fish again. Flows have dropped to safe wading levels on the Soque and we’ve had some good client days over there. The Hooch at Nacoochee Bend should start fishing again this week as flows drop back down toward 2-250 cfs. Since these fish haven’t seen many anglers and flies in several weeks, their guard will be down. Don’t forget a big net!
Dukes at Smithgall was challenging even to its regulars. Ray V said he had to go down to 6X and some of his small secret weapons to fool its resident rainbows. He even landed a few!
Smith DH fished well for guests with good drifts and small flies. Michigan guide John Gouker and wife Chastity
did well on Wednesday on small, olive hares ears. We shared that intel with the Thursday’s two ATL anglers, who later called the shop after their successful Smith trip. Olive hares ears and small pheasant tail soft hackles produced well.
GAWRD spruced up both the Ami and Toccoa DH’s this week, as well as Little Amicalola Creek. Just be very careful with high flows!!! Check out the latest WRD weekly trout stocking reports here:
UNG student and UO weekend fishing guide Hunter Pittman had a short time to wet a line today. Here’s his intel:
“Amicalola at 53. Thirty minutes to fish. Landed one, lost one. They seem to be all in the big pool in front of the accessible pier. Water is still up, but barely wadeable for the holes that are close to the bank. Maybe 4-5 holes on this section that you can easily fish. Be careful!”
Our best bet has been the Chattooga DH. Dredger did really well on his two trips last week, despite really high flows that restricted his number of safe access points. A big handful of UCCTU members inquired with our shop, got that hot intel, and put it to good use last Sunday. In their own words,
“UO staff, thank you for the great tips, and I concur with Danny; it was a beautiful day on the water. We (Dan F and I) started the day (12:30 ish) fishing in the vast football field plus size glide, the one above the shelf that runs the whole stream. I picked up two very quickly (bow 9" and nice brookie 15" or so), with white mop/orange bead head.

Later moved up to the brown trout beach pool party with Danny and friends. Bugs started coming off about 1:30-2, a mix of LB Stones, Caddis, and a few Mayflies of some kind. The Georgia side had very aggressive rises from the pool down the side seam for a 100 ft or so and hooked a few browns on a 14 CDC caddis. Reminded me of being in Colorado, you would walk over the rises, and they would be back in five minutes. Dan F, did very well on the water for a newbie as well.”
“We had 7 TU guys out on the river and we converted a new fly fisherman, my brother in law. We showed him the UCCTU way by doing a parking lot cleanup. Cream Mop and zebra midge did the trick for fishing. To end the day, we had a late lunch with the biker community at Big Daddies in Helen. I bought my brother in law a new clearwater rod/reel setup from UO on Sunday evening on his way back home. ”
We had no NC stream reports last week, but nearby destinations like Fires, Nantahala, and the Tuck should rebound as their flows finally drop. Try euronymphing the pools and boulder pockets during the midday warmth in these cold, gorge-enclosed streams.
If you’re looking for less-crowded waters, aim for some “wash-downs.” Fish can’t read special reg signs, and many stockers are crummy at negotiating floods, so go prospecting below the DH signs at Ami’s 53 bridge and Tooga’s 28 bridge, and through the Hooch in Helen, where a bait angler told us he invited a half dozen rainbows home for supper this week.
Lake fans have two good choices this week: Vogel and Winfield Scott.
Check out the last two weeks of WRD fishing blogs for excellent lake intel. If you have kids, read about Little Ami ( park reflection pool):
Walleye fans should expect fish up the tributary rivers very soon. In the meantime, small Lanier stripers are abundant up the Hooch. The biggest angler challenge will be safely negotiating high, turbid flows. Details are in those two WRD fishing blogs, above.
The bottom line is that we finally have some dry weather and dropping flows. It might just be a great time to treat that cabin fever before our next big round of rains. Don’t forget your wool gloves and long underwear. Good luck!

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