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 9, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 10/9/20

Welcome to “Dealing with Delta.”  The hurricane aimed today at the LA coast will weaken into a tropical storm, them turn right toward us, and rain on our weekend fishing parade. The goods news is a) we’ll help you deal with Delta b) high water helps our streams, and c) great weather awaits us on the storm’s far side.  Here we go.

North GA’s current forecasts suggest a soggy Saturday, a stormy Sunday, and blown-out Monday...maybe Tuesday, too, if rainfall totals exceed an inch.  Fishing fanatics may be able to angle on Saturday (especially early) as the first storm bands hit. Fishing could be productive as streams begin to rise and color up. A good raincoat is a must. You might also fish near your parked car in case a bad storm aims for you. Your best tools for Saturday success are your weather app and your brain- use good judgment and be safe!

Heaviest rains are expected overnight on Saturday and continuing on Sunday, which will be a washout. That day will be a good one to “tie or buy” and restock your fly boxes for fall and winter trouting. I know two good fly shops that can help with your mission.

Weekday fishing conditions will depend on total rainfall.  Monday will likely be blown out on every stream.  If rainfall exceeds an inch, blowouts can continue for another day or two, especially on large waters, until those stormflows have enough time to run off.  Best bets: 1) call fly shops first for current stream conditions, 2) apply my October Angler Magazine column tips and read those USGS stream gauges (Hooch-Helen even has a river camera!), 3) plan to go high to bluelines or low to ponds and lakes.  On lakes, tribs will dump in stain and groceries, and headwaters can be a good bet for emboldened bass and bream on the prowl.

When fishing high and/or stained water, use bigger and/or brighter bugs to get some attention. Look down on your driveway for the “storm hatch.” Yep, earthworms. Best bets: squirmies, San Juan’s, Pats rubberlegs, buggers and leeches, and bright egg patterns. The latter look like Purina pellets for naive stockers right now, and they will mimic  “spawning hatches” of fish eggs in our upcoming months.

While blowouts are bummers, they do have a bright side, literally.  “Good flushes” really clean and shine our mountain streams, washing away summer’s silt and algae and loosening stream gravels for fall-spawning specks and browns. Floods also spread out freshly stocked trout, so Delayed Harvest (DH) fishing will be better.  Fish will finally be spread among all the good niches, rather than wadded up in just a few good “pool schools.”

Here are some recent fishing reports for your entertainment. Just like stocks, here’s a disclaimer: “past results don’t guarantee future performance.”  These low, clear water reports won’t help you until our waters recover sometime next week. But the intel and pics are always a hit with our audience. Here you go:

First, remember our 10/7 “beat the storm” post and pics. The take-home there was to distinguish your bugs from the leaves and twigs cluttering fall trout waters. Best fish from my Smokies trip was a 15-inch brown that ate a #12 sexy Walts.   I had 7-8 cookie cutter 10-inch browns on my black pats rubberlegs before I lost it.  And discovered it was my last one (rookie error)!  At dusk, I saw a few surface sippers in the slick tailout of a long pool and picked off two small wild bows with a #20 BWO Emerger. It was a nice way to end the day.

UO friend “Sautee” and an accomplice met at the trailhead of another Smokies stream yesterday (8th) and socially distanced upstream. He reports: “With Fall settling in and air temps dropping to a comfortable level, water temps have convinced trout that it’s worth their time to expend energy looking for groceries.  It seemed like a good time to head north to GSMNP and once again try our luck on “Elk” Creek.  A scarcity of rain for the last 6 days had the water running low and clear and the fish were acting more like they do in drought mode.  Got off to a slow start fishing dry droppers and was quickly changing the menu often, hoping to settle on something the fish and I could all agree was worth coming out of their apparent stupor.  October caddis didn’t work, stimulators didn’t work, ants didn’t work and droppers of various varieties (with bead heads and without) did not work.  At last, a #14 foam beetle on top and a #14 bead head pheasant tail dropped about 24” off the back started gaining some much-needed attention and worked to bring rainbows and browns to hand.  As the sun receded behind the mountains, fish became more active and the next 30 minutes saw the most action and produced the most fish.  While the beetle saw some action, the dropper really saved the day by getting down to where most of the fish were still huddled. Almost all fish were taken from water 3’ or deeper with most being found in back eddies in deeper pools with riffles being unproductive for the day.  Now is a good time to head north, enjoy the Park, see some color in the leaves, breathe some fresh air, catch a fish or two, listen to the elk bugle and watch them compete for the privilege of populating the Park with grands and great-grands.  Get up there now, before the ice and snow begin to dictate your fishing plans.”

Our private waters have fished really well, so book your trips soon.  Dennis has a great day with UO guide “Coach Mac” at Rainbow Point on the Soque.  They landed lots of trout, with a few bruisers mixed in (pic).  Nacoochee Bend regular Kevin P said he had a great afternoon with the Bend’s bows and “couldn’t keep them off the hook.”  Everything is eating because water temps are prime.

The same was true for river bass. UO managers Jake and Wes had some good shoalie float trips before the storm. Cooling water had them hunkered down, but bottom-bumped flies and lures on spinning rigs produced numbers and some sizes, too, with “ best of trip” fish ranging 18-21 inches. Congrats to 8-yr old Sam on his whopper (pic)!

That’s the latest from our UO gang. Be safe during the storm, be smart in its high-flow wake, and be ready to call us (706-878-3083) if you’re itching to go and wanna know where. We sure do appreciate your business!  May we all survive all these “storms of life” and find a joyful respite in our favorite creek. Good luck this week when the waters recede.

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