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, August 28, 2020

UO Fishing Report - August 28,

Welcome back to UO’s Friday fishing report. The remnants of Tropical Storm Laura will dictate most of your weekend opportunities.  The timing and intensity of weekend storms will control water conditions and lead you toward or away from your targeted waters.  In summary, your best bets are headwater streams and small lakes, your hero or zero opportunities are bass rivers, and a nice day trip is a Smokies excursion.  Here’s some intel and reports from our staff.

Wild trout in cold headwater streams are still a good bet.  Be ready with your hi A-game, however, as these fish become spookier and suspicious in late summer’s low, gin-clear waters.  Best bets for risers are still the standard summer fare: tan caddis, small stimulators, parachute adams, and the black stuff- ants and beetles.  Good droppers are ants, pheasant tails, hare’s ears, and princes.  If I had to pick one size, it’s a 16, but I’d have some 14’s for bigger water and 18’s if the fish get real picky.  UO guide Hunter is on a client trip right now (28th).  He said that the dry/dropper combo of an elk hair caddis with either a prince or pheasant tail dropper (when they hit deeper pools) has been the ticket on this week’s client trips.

We’re still concentrating on streams and rivers, so our yaks continue to collect dust.  Pond fish should still be good in the shadows of dawn and dusk.  Our friends just to the west have had fun with bass and bream at Lake Zwerner in the past.  Give this lake next to Dahlonega a look, and try the Yahoola Creek channel for some deeper, cooler water and hungrier fish.  Try a surface popper, but be ready to dredge deep in the summer heat to find a cooperator or two.

River bassin’ has been tough all summer due to high water and low visibility.  On a Wednesday (26th)  lunchtime errand, Jeff saw about two feet of visibility at the Highway 115 access and convinced Jimmy to give it a try.  The duo knocked the cobwebs off their six-weights, abandoned on garage rod racks all summer, and hit the upper Hooch just before dusk.  Fishing was fun but catching was still slow.  At least the half dozen or so shoalies ate a stealth bomber on top.  Most were 10-11 inches and the best hit 14 inches.  It was still nice to wet wade some shoals again.  Jeff crossed the Hooch at 10am today (28th) and it looked a little bit clearer.  If upstream storms don’t turn it red, weekend bassers may have a shot.  Try some bigger and/or brighter baits to get their attention in the discolored waters.  Big buggers, poppers, and even Ned rigs or spinnerbaits on your backup spinning rods might draw more strikes.

While muddy water is a turnoff for many of our targets, it’s a turn-on for Nacoochee Bend stripers.  Last Friday (21st) Dredger read that day’s UO fishing report, noticed the morning rain, and called Jake at the fly shop.  Jake confirmed that the river was high and muddy, but not blood-red, so Dredger convinced the Unicoi Guru to play hooky after lunch.  The duo met at the Bend and hopped in as the river cleared just a bit more.  They hooked up with two brutes!  The bigger one, at least 12 pounds, shook off after an epic battle, but they were able to land the smaller one, which taped at 29 inches and might have hit ten pounds, if weighed.  Hot flies were a huge olive woolly bugger and Guru’s leftover peacock bass streamer from his Amazon adventure.  Due to its size and color, they called it the “gray squirrel streamer.” Have your 8-weights and squirrel streamers ready, watch the weather, and call the fly shop for river conditions and a trip booking at prime time.  As these two angling addicts will attest, “the tug is the drug.”  Give the tug a try at dawn, dusk, or in dingy midday waters. Remember that your trip fee is actually a donation to the Nomadic Waters fishing guides in the Amazon, lacking tourist anglers during this unprecedented year.

Our friends at GAWRD have another great weekly blog for everyone.  Check out the picture of the 7-pound Hooch brown!  If you have kids, tune into this week’s trout stocking list.


Finally, if you can day-trip the Smokies, or find a safe, socially distant campsite for one night up there, give the park a try.  Jeff day-tripped yesterday (27th).  Wild bows and browns were, indeed, spooky and suspicious, with 6 or 7 refusals for every rise and hookup. The afternoon’s money flies, however, were long droppers in prime runs and pools. The best fish ate either a brown rubberlegs or the silver beaded, tan mop.  He could not pattern the risers, with an adams, beetle, and stimulator each fooling a few through the afternoon (which is always the slowest time of the day).  A brief “Dark30” happened ‪at 7pm‬ and lasted for about 30 minutes.  They looked up as the shadows fell, but were still hesitant to eat.  Despite their reluctance, he landed a small handful, with more browns than bows to end a nice afternoon.

He quit early to elk-watch, and was treated to a herd of about two dozen in the Cherokee visitor center field.  The elk-tourist referee (park ranger) said that the biggest bull was indeed nicknamed Big Boy and sported a 6X6 rack. Jeff enjoyed supper in the parking lot while listening to bugles and watching Big Boy run off two teenage bulls from his harem of cows.  While the catching was “fair,” the fishing trip was still rated two thumbs-up.

That’s the latest intel from our UO gang.  While our windows of opportunity are a bit limited in a late summer of frequent storms, some good chances are there if you look closely.  Call either shop if you need help sighting in your weekend targets.  And to end the report, let’s take a break from life’s stresses and enjoy nature’s wonders.  Thanks to “Natureman’s” post on North Georgia Trout Online, we found Robert Bush, Sr.’s spectacular videos of “life on a log.” 


Congratulate yourself on surviving another week, decompress to one these amazing videos, and make your own plan to get outside soon.  Remember, the tug is the drug!  Good luck from all of us at Unicoi Outfitters.

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