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 20, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 11/20/20

Welcome to your holiday fishing report! Here’s your bottom line, based on the past week’s trip results:  

Trout waters are super-clear, cold, and flowing well. We are dry til Wednesday.   Catching will be better in the afternoons as water temps warm from the low 40’s to the high 40’s. Fish are in the slower water, taking refuge from fast flows. Naive ones are still taking junk flies like legs, eggs, and mops.  (See our 11/17FB post on legs and eggs!).  A few new (11/1) stockers and all the residents are smartening up, so be ready with small, natural nymphs and Eurojigs if your junk flies (11/16 FB post) start striking out.  Colder lake waters should have more stripers coming up to chase threadfins at dawn and dusk.

Avoid the crowds to have better fishing and lower health risks.  Fish on weekdays or outwalk other anglers for plenty of fishing space. Here we go with some Thanksgiving hope for y’all.

Smith DH
UO buddy RonW sez,
“Met Mog up at Smiths this morning (14th) for a few hours. I was the first one in the lot at 7am but by the time I got my waders on, there were 6 other people there. The water was up and running fast! Fishing the breaks in the current was the ticket. The bank side eddies paid off as they always do in high water. I started off with my signature Pumpkin WB and it didn't take long for it to produce.  I stepped into my first run of the day and made a few casts when I noticed a big splash on the far side. Threw over there...strip strip boom...a nice 14-15" brown obliged! We worked down all the way to the bottom of the DH, picking up a half a dozen or more fish here and there.  The creek has changed in several places for sure.  We worked our way back to the top and finished the day around noon "flossing the teeth",  picking up a few more on the bugger which stayed on point all day.  We were also treated to some rising fish, which Kurt connected on.  Unfortunately I couldn't seal the deal (bass hooksets).  Big fish of the day was Kurt's 16-17" brown.  The fish are still learning their way but it won't be much longer before they wise up.  My purple hot wire nymph with chartreuse tungsten bead worked really well as a dropper, as did the egg .
Great day on the water in my book...wait,  any day on the water is a great day! “

Sautee hit Smith DH late last weekend and found a crowd.  He patiently waited, out of site, until each angler would leave a nice pool. He then fished behind them and did pretty well on eggs and nymphs. He felt that his secret to higher success than other anglers was his extra split shot.

UO friend “Nurse Kitty”
had a fun Sunday afternoon on Dukes Creek. She hooked about five and landed one chunky rainbow. It was a great learning experience as she “paid her dues” in only her second trip to this stream full of PhD trout, especially in clear water. The fish taught her valuable lessons on dead drifting, fighting big fish, and netting them. The lost ones and the landed bow all contributed to a great weekend of much-needed hydrotherapy. Congrats Kitty!

We’ve had no recent reports, as most folks are aiming toward the bigger, warmer waters. You should still be able to catch a few frozen blueliners if you hit the warm afternoons and be ready with a dropper nymph if those wild fish are too cold to rise to your dry.

UO buddy Athens Alan reports, “Made my first trip of the Fall 2020 DH season on Saturday. Beautiful sunny day; felt great to be in the river. Parked on the GA side and walked up the access road at 10:15. Two guys were fishing at the crossover point and one was below them. I crossed over and headed upstream. River was pretty high (2.5 on Hwy 76 gauge) and I was glad to have packed along the wading staff!

Fished with an indicator and a Y2K and black bead head stonefly with rubber legs.
Picked up first 10” bow on Y2K and then two more on the black stonefly. Fished up to IDBIS Creek, stopped and ate lunch, then tied on a parachute purple haze and tiny pmd. Got a pretty 8” brown to come all the way out of the water to hammer the pmd!

I didn’t see anyone else until I got back down to the crossover point.  An angler was In the river there and his buddy was just below him. I could see two more guys below them.  By that time it was a little after 4:00 and I hiked back out. Not a ton of catching, but was good to be in the river. 

Several of the large trees in the upper section that had been in the river have washed out changing the look of things up there.Lots of sunshine this week, hopefully the river will drop to a more fishable level.”

Dredger hit Tooga DH on Monday (16th: see our 17th FB post).  He found the vast majority of fish flushed into flood refuges by recent high flows. Refuges are deep pools below rock ledges and slow, deep bankside eddies. They ate dead drifted eggs and rubberlegs- when the legs were twitched. A few were hooked on a stripped bugger, but that pattern was much less effective than a week ago, as expected.  The third place finisher was actually his 3/4 inch, orange Airlock indicator! Several fish came up to eat this big “Purina pellet,”showing that they’re still fresh out of Walhalla Hatchery.

Only about 20% of the fish seemed to be adapting to their new environments and lining up in riffles and runs to intercept drifting groceries. He got them on drifted eggs. They will smarten up soon due to hunger and hookups on junk flies, then more fish will line up in these prime habitats.

The trio of Unico Guru, Sautee, and Dredger drove separately and distantly convened along Nan DH on Wednesday (18th). Water was clear and 44F at 11am, rising to 47 at four.  Flow was good, much higher than the historically low flow in fall, and wading was fine with a staff and a belt.  A few #18 gray caddis adults were seen “frozen” to streamside rocks and praying for sunshine to thaw them. Lots of cased caddis were seen on underwater boulders.
Only a few fish were seen suspended, which meant the rest were glued to the bottom.
Catching started slowly on a variety of our favorite small, traditional and Euro nymphs (good in clear water) til the gorge warmed after lunch.  Then it was on! Hot bug of the day was what our UO buddy Ron W calls “janitorial supply:” the infamous mop. The winning combo was a) warmer water, b) slower spots (either deep midstream pools or slow bankside runs with some depth), and c) that big, easy tungsten mop bumping bottom.  All three species were fondled, with biggest fish a 14” brook and 17” bow, and with best fish a colorful 10” wild bow.  Best “catch” of the day was our view of the young bald Eagle perched above us, and then providing a flyover.

Tip: if you don’t have tungsten mops, buy the unleaded flies and a bag of 4mm tungsten beads, and slip a bead up your tippet before you tie on the fly.

Private Waters
Ed Barnes caught a bunch of nice rainbows on a double-dip trip with UO guide Coach Mac They fished the morning at Riverside and the afternoon at Rainbow Point on the Soque. Coach Mac’s special recipes of eggs and nymphs produced, as always.

UO guide and Clarkesville store manager Hunter Pittman had a great time guiding a daddy/daughter duo at Nacoochee Bend. Dredged eggs and nymphs and even a stripped streamer (sparkle minnow) worked as the morning waters warmed. 

Lanier striper chasing will be worth a shot as cold air finally cools off the lake surface and brings bait schools to the top. The stripers and spots will be under them.  Since we don’t have many clouds in the forecast, it might be a short bite window early and late, when the sun is low a d fish are shallow.  

As Henry C sez, be a birdwatcher.  Use your binocs to spot diving gulls and wading herons with extended necks.

Your best source of intel is Henry’s brand-new book! “Fly Fishing for Fresh Water Striped Bass” has all of his tips in one spot. And For only $17! We still have some in the shop and another order on the way. Get this book if you want to significantly improve your odds for lake and river stripers on the fly or lure!

You can find this book and other great  products in our brand-new 


Just added to the menu of our online store:

We hope that all of you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, even if you are physically distant from most family and friends.  May Mother Nature’s therapy of a crystal clear trout stream and crisp mountain air help you to hang in there. It’s working for us. May we all be thankful for the abundant blessings that still surround us. Good luck and please be safe as you enjoy your holiday week.

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