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 23, 2020

UO Fishing Report -10/23/20

Welcome to your “second last chance.”  All streams have dropped, cleared, and warmed during these bright, sunny afternoons, so plan your social distance destinations before we turn cold around Halloween.  Bring a raincoat for the 50% chance of weekend showers and remember that cloudy weather might actually help your catching.


The region’s warm and low waters should give you another season-ending shot at river bass (deep) and small stream trout on top.  We also have some timely intel on the Georgia DH kickoff, so read on!

An expected half-inch of weekend rain might bump up streamflows, which should rebound quickly with another run of warm, dry days next week.  (Remember my rainfall tips in The Angler magazine- Atlanta edition’s October column) You will, however, have to deal with falling leaves, especially if there’s some wind. 

Match your bugs to the stream conditions. If the water is big/high/stained from a rain, use bigger and brighter bugs to get their attention.  Great trout treats are globugs (egg flies), rubberleg stones, squirmy worms, and big (#10 or 12) sexy walts or mops.  For river bass, drag the bottom with big crayfish, worm, and helgrammite imitations. Rivers are warm, but not warm enough for topwater bass action.

When trout water is low/slow/crystal clear, the fish can study your bugs and casually decide whether or not to eat, so you oughta scale down. Use smaller versions of the above bugs as your first fly.  The second, dropper fly should be even smaller and natural, like #16 or 18 hares ears, pheasant tails, lightning bugs, frenchies, and sexy walts. I’m partial to silver tungsten beads if there’s a decent current. I think the beads catch the trout’s attention while leaves and twigs clutter the water column.  For river bass, shrink your lure and lighten your line: try 10-12 lb fluoro. Remember to aim for any shade, which hides the shoalies and spots from the herons.

Note the time change overnight on Saturday, 10/31.   This means we can fish the evenings easier, since they’ll arrive sooner and allow us to return home earlier for a good night’s sleep. That will be a nice change from our spring sleep deprivation after chasing Dark30 hatches!

There’s your forecast and tips. Now here comes your latest intel. Aren’t you glad you subscribed to this UO fishing feed? Tell your fishing friends to sign up, too!

NC DH Great

UO young bucks Abe and Trey  hit Fires Creek and did well on legs and eggs, micro streamers and foam Beetles. They landed mostly wild rainbows, with a few hatchery fish to top off their catch.

I drove up to watch “Lumis” practice his dead drift technique on Nantahala DH. He did well, scoring the species hat trick (brook, brown, rainbow) within the first two hours. Several more fish added to his morning total. His winning clear-water combo was a #14 orange Glo bug and a trailing #16 bead head pheasant tail. We met longtime UO friend  “Bama Vic” streamside.  He also had a great morning dredging the Nan.

We did see some October caddis, BWO’s, and midges stirring with the midday sun, but didn’t stay long enough to try for risers. Warm afternoons should encourage some surface action for dry fly fans, so have a dry/dropper setup ready for the second half of the day.

Timely GA Trout Intel

I called GAWRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson last week for some fall prospects.  He said to keep an eye on this Friday’s stocking list, as he hopes to take advantage of the wonderful fall weather. This weekend might be a good time to grab the kids, their spincast rods, and some bait and make some memories together.


For GA DH streams, he said state and federal hatchery staffs were geared up for stocking on Monday, 11/2.  Anxious DH anglers may wish to plan accordingly.  I got a similar story for the Chattooga from my friends at SCDNR, who are aiming to refresh that river during the week of the 2nd. SC does have a fall stocking program in addition to DH, so the river usually has some trout near access points for folks heading that way before the 2nd. Exact DH stocking dates are weather- dependent and top-secret.

Private Waters

Mom’s 10/21 Nacoochee Bend Report:   “Just wanted to reach out and say thank you for such a wonderful day today! My son and husband had a great time with your guide, Hunter, on your Gilligan Special.  My son cannot stop talking about what a fantastic experience it was. He’s said he’s asking for a repeat for all future birthday gifts.  Y’all made the process so easy for these new fly fishing guys and they had an absolute blast. Here’s a couple pics from the day. Thanks again!!”

UO manager Jake said his clients had a big time at Rainbow Point on the Soque last Saturday.  They got a “species slam” before lunch. The river was still up but clear and wadeable. It was all bottom-bumping with a chunk of weight, as fish were hugging the bottom. Highlight of the day was this big, buttery, hookjawed brown.

Small stream wild trout should still fish well, especially in the afternoons. Break out your brand-new stream thermometer and look for 50+ degree water for your best shot at surface sippers. If the fish are cold, add that pheasant tail dropper and get down to them. Abe also did well flipping small spinners to wild browns in bigger, downstream waters near his home.

That’s your stash of the latest UO intel. Thanks for your business, which keeps our shop doors open and our Friday fishing reports flowing. Call either the Helen (706-878-3083) or Clarkesville (706-754-0203) Store if we can help with your fall harvest of fishing memories. Good luck. Stay distant, smart, and safe.


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