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, November 13, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 11/13/20

This week’s theme is “try the tribs.”  Back-to-back tropical storms have our larger rivers still running very high and unsafe for most wading anglers. This weekend, head toward tributary streams, small lakes like Vogel, or big reservoirs for stripers on top.  Here’s the latest intel and some fishing reports gathered prior to this week’s 2.5 to 3.5 additional inches of rain dropped on north Georgia, before the last storm’s flows could recede!

I cruised a stream circuit today (13th) prior to watching the Chattooga River copter stocking event. The Hooch in Helen, Moccasin, Tallulah, and Chattooga were all very high, slightly cloudy, and still ripping along. (See all the storm debris piled up on the Burton Hatchery dam/intake).  They’re gonna need several more days to shed their stormflows and return to safe wading levels. 

Pay close attention to USGS streamflow gauges and call local fly shops to know current stream conditions.  Be careful- these are strong flows ripping through narrow stream channels!

We’d like to thank the US Forest Service, DNR, and county road crews for clearing the forest roads up here. I counted four Zeta-induced landslides on Tallulah River Road that the Feds cleared for us river recreationists and Tate City’s residents. 

When they drop, try some big, heavy stuff (tungsten mops, rubberlegs, and weighted Y2K’s, Glo bugs, and Woolly buggers) to get some attention.

Here’s a Delayed Harvest stream tip: aim accurately for schooled and unschooled fish. Schooled fish have been hammered by early season crowds and have already smartened up. Try some small (16-20) wets and nymphs on thinner (5, 6x) tippet to fool them. It’s usually not the fly pattern, but a natural drift that will get you more strikes.

The unschooled fish are naive ones out of reach to most anglers. They’re under logjams and in eddies on the far side of the river. Try swinging a small bugger into these gnarly spots (by pointing your rod and mending big loops to steer the fly) and twitch the bugger in these unfished niches.

Best bets right now are the upper ends of these big streams and all of their small tributaries.  Smaller streams have shed a lot of water and give you a chance to wade them. With a few more days of warm weather, try dry/dropper combos in soft (slow) spots. You’ll catch them before lunch on your flashy droppers like beaded pheasant tails and hare’s ears. After lunch, have hope for a few afternoon eats on top. Try high floaters like stimulators and small chubby chernobyls, and you might catch a few risers in November.

UO friend Ron W said he and his usual accomplices had a big time on Dukes at Smithgall Woods last Saturday. The trio has paid their dues and figured the fish out. He said:
“Hammered em today at Duke's! Also got to test out the first net I've ever built.  I need to build a bigger one for Duke's and bigger streams. This was built for small stream fishing in mind but I  finished it yesterday and just had to get some slime on her.  We caught fish on buggers, PT,  black stones etc.  Hooked and fought one easily 24".  Never saw him until after he broke me off 30 seconds into the battle. He then proceeded to jump four times, apparently he didn't like his new piercing. My best fish landed was just over 20 inches.”

Dredger hit the Smokies on Monday and had a good time. He got a late start after some elk distractions, then had high hopes with two chunky bows to hand in the first 15 minutes. They ate a mop and a rubberlegs.  Then the high sun and crystal clear water beat him up, badly. He landed just two tiny trout over the next four hours.  He tried to save face by hitting smaller pocket water, upstream, as the sun fell, and was rewarded with another 8 bows. Half ate the stimmy dry.

Hunter said that pre-flood anglers on our private waters did well, despite the lingering high flows from Zeta. He said,
“Armed services buddies Karl and Steve had a great time enjoying some hydrotherapy at Nacoochee Bend this past weekend. Had some action on everything from nymphs to streamers and even some dry fly action.They also had a great time fished Riverside on the Soque with UO guide Ron.  

I fished Ami DH before the flood and did well with legs and eggs. The rainbows hadn’t spread out yet, but I bet they are now, after this high water.”

Henry C and Jimmy said that Lanier stripers are surfacing more often these days. Try early and late, watch for birds, graph for bait schools, and go slow in river arms to see and dodge big storm debris.

That’s the latest from our Unicoi Outfitters gang. Give us a shout (706-878-3083) if we can point you in the right direction while we wait for our rivers to recede - again!  Please, please be smart, socially distant, and safe.  Good luck!

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