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, October 16, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 10/16/20

The weekend looks great! Just wear a sweatshirt for the chilly mornings and be ready to shed it at lunchtime.  The dry week following Delta has allowed nearly all trout streams to return to fishable flows, so go!

The biggest basins such as the Chattooga and Toccoa, however, are still shedding Delta’s 5-8 inches of rainfall and are running high.  To play it safe, most folks ought to aim for smaller streams for just a few more days until those big rivers drop a bit more.  

Your hot tip, as described at midweek, is: if they won’t come up to you, then go down to them!  

The front this morning will drop air and water temps.  Winds will give you more leaves to deal with on your drifts.  The good news is that we’re still in the prime trouting zone, with water temps running in the 50’s.  However, if those temps drop down to 50 or lower after a chilly night, droppers will work better than dries until the fish get warmed up by the afternoon sun. (Hope you’ve bought a stream thermometer by now!)

That’s good news; you can eat a nice breakfast and take your time getting up here to trout waters.  Then try sinking a small pheasant tail or sexy walts a foot or two under your stimulator or elk hair caddis to coax those sluggish fish to brunch.  Droppers without a tungsten bead may fish better with a  size 6 or 8 dinsmore shot crimped six inches ahead of it.  If the water’s  deeper than three feet, you might even foresake the dry and try a full-blown indicator rig to dredge those cold bodies from the bottom.

Enjoy the nice week ahead while maintaining your distancing diligence and personal safety.    Delta dampened our report volume a bit as it sidelined our trusted sources for several days, but we still have a few great reports to share after the waters dropped at midweek.

Private waters are on fire. Our guides have had great trips with clients as streams recovered to fishable levels.  Linda Jack from Tampa caught this monster rainbow trout while fishing with Unicoi Outfitters guide Ron Thomas at Noontootla Creek Farms (NCF). Linda said it was one of the hardest fighting trout she’s ever landed!

UO’s good friend, FL outdoor writer, photographer, and Fly-Fishing instructor Rusty Chinnis, 


said he also had a great time this week at NCF with Unicoi guide Chuck Head. They had great action on the colorful, resident rainbows. Rusty really enjoys his annual fall trips to Helen and does it all, from bluelining to trophy hunting, before returning to his tarpon flats. We enjoy hosting him.

Photo credits:


UO shop managers Wes and Hunter said that clients fishing Nacoochee Bend and Rainbow Point have had great fishing for “numbers,” with some bigger fish mixed in. Veteran anglers are landing those trophies, while our newer fly fishers are paying their dues to the sport  while practicing some long distance releases (LDR’s) on the biguns. Swinging streamers and soft hackles have worked really well.

Smithgall veteran Landon had a good “high water” Dukes trip, with a bunch of rainbows landed. Best was 19 inches! Squirmies and leeches were the stained-water ticket.  Once upon a time , he gave some good tips here for Smithgall rookies:


We have no fresh blueline reports, but they should still bring joy to prospectors, especially the afternoon guests. Try a stimmy or caddis dry and, if they’re shy, add a small pheasant tail or soft hackle dropper about 12-18 inches below it. The dropper’s gotta be real short to fit through the narrow casting tunnels of our rhodo-choked bluelines.

Leftover stockers and NC Delayed Harvest fish should now be well-scattered by high water.   Aim for flood refuges such as bedrock ledges (perpendicular to flow), slow pools, logjams, and boulder fields. Try a pats rubberlegs or some small, bright nymphs and soft hackles if they’re beginning to turn their noses at your Opening Day junk flies like squirmies and eggs.

Bass rivers are still high and off-color from Delta’s massive dump, and not a great bet yet.  The Hooch at Hwy 115 was still a bit high, with only two feet of visibility, when I crossed her at 10AM today.

Our great flatland friend, Henry Cowen, 


said he and a buddy chased several striper schools this morning (16th) and put a seven- pounder in the boat. Here’s his intel: The fish were in open water, over 60-90 foot bottoms, on the lower end of Lanier. Anglers should bring both spin and fly gear, and a good set of binoculars. The schools are up and down quickly and anglers must hustle to them to get a shot or two before they dive.

That’s the latest from our UO gang. Be safe at home and on the water.   Remember that in addition to instore service, we also offer online and curbside service at both the Helen (706-878-3083) and Clarkesville (706-754-0203) to help you with your distancing.  All orders over $25 ship free!  


Good luck this week as we all enjoy cool fall weather, warm fall colors, and hopefully 


Tight lines and tall tales to y’all from the UO staff.

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