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, March 20, 2020

UO Fishing Report- 3/20/20

We all need a little good news right now to give our minds a break from the medical and economic woes. Hopefully this week’s report will meet those needs. Let’s call it “fresh air outdoors.”

We are so thankful for north Georgia’s abundant public lands and waters. The woods, lakes, and streams give us great opportunities to socially distance ourselves, and also to recharge our “psychological batteries” that have been drained down by each nightly newscast. A trail hike, boat ride, or stream wade on a sunny spring day may be just the prescription to keep us going during this unprecedented time in our lives. Give it a try. We did, yesterday.
Jimmy and Jeff drove separately to a Lanier boat ramp and distanced themselves once aboard the ship. They cruised slowly in the thick fog of dawn and watched for “birds,”
first the Humminbird LCD screen above the steering wheel, and then the terns that flew at first daylight. They were treated to a nice bunch of fat spotted bass and one small striper.

They tossed intermediate lines during surface breaks under the birds, and deep sinking lines on their other 8-weight rods when the graph showed spaghetti at 10-20 feet. Henry C’s popular flavors, the Something Else and the Cowen’s Coyote, were the winning patterns. The Unicoi duo also had a few brief shots at bigger, boiling stripers, but didn’t hook up. With lake temps now in the upper 50’s, it’s “game on” at your favorite reservoir. Just remember to bird-watch, as they are both awesome strike indicators!
Whites and stripers are also starting their river runs. We’ve seen good river reports on the GON message board. Other anglers also reported to our staff some success this week on Hooch stripers migrating up from Lanier. There will likely be some good WRD intel later today via their weekly blog:
Trout streams also took off as water temps stayed above the magic 50-degree mark. Private water success skyrocketed this week due to the winning trifecta of dropping flows, rising water temperatures, and hatching bugs. No single pattern ruled the week, as our guides and anglers had to adapt to the changing tastes of resident trout. Jake’s Nacoochee Bend morning group had “pot luck” on a variety of nymphs, worms, and eggs, while another angler had sole success on Dr. Dave’s root beer midges. Hunter’s afternoon clients found fish dialed into soft hackles with midge droppers, especially since midges were hatching in earnest. Big fish on the Soque ate well for both George and Stefan’s guided trips, where they again changed flies until the hot pattern of the day got dialed in.
It was a mixed message on public waters. Fresh stockers enhanced catch rates on nearby streams like the Tallulah and small lakes like Vogel and Black Rock. In contrast, Smith DH fished poorly, likely due to low, clear water and heavy fishing pressure, according to folks returning to our shop. The Chattooga DH saved the day for many other anglers as bugs hatched and fish rose off the bottom to take advantage of the drift. We just had a recent angler report of “tan mayflies” hatching. Watch the GON (fly fishing) and NGTO message boards for other “fresh” fishing reports.
Given the unseasonably warm spell, and the fact we’re nearing April, be ready with your April trout bugs, too. That month’s stars are Light Cahills and tan caddis. Go to “Spring Dries and Droppers” at the webpage called “Secrets of the Rabunites” for more April intel. Start big (size 14) early in the month and be ready with smaller sizes as the weeks pass and the bugs shrink.

The bottom line now is that we’re approaching prime time. Most fish will eat what’s on the end of a very good, drag-free drift. When certain bugs are hatching, however, anglers will do better to match the hatch. Have the normal eggs, nymphs, and small buggers in tow, but be sure to carry a few dries (Adams, March browns, gray caddis, Griffith gnat ), and nymphs and soft hackles of our favorite March mays (hares ears, pheasant tails) as hatch-matchers. Toss in the April bugs, too. Study the water for fish and bug behavior and let them help you dial in that day’s winning combination.
If there ever was a time for a fishing trip, it might be now. Go breathe some clean air and run your hands through some clean water. Dab on a little bit of sunscreen and let those rays warm your cheeks. You’ll feel a whole lot better and return to the front lines of our society’s battle with renewed hope and vigor. We sure did.
We wish you tight lines and good health in the days ahead. Call us if we can help you with a prescription for fun in the great outdoors.

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