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, December 11, 2020

UO Fishing Report - 12/11/20

Summary: Trout are acclimating to winter conditions and cold weather techniques are now the trick. They are to drift your offering slowly, roll those flies along the bottom, and hit the daily water temp peaks from 11 til 4. Patterns: bigger eggs, rubberleg stones, and small (16-18) rainbow warriors, lightning bugs, hares ears, and pheasant tails if finicky fish in clear water refuse your bigger flies. Dark woolly buggers on deep, slow strips and twitches are another good bet. Some of the hatcheries’ “recent retirees” are now in DH streams and often prefer those bigger bugs. You might find a big brood rainbow, brook, or brown among your December catch.

Lake stripers are slow and scattered. Watch the birds for surface fish and your graphs for deeper bait balls. Downsize your flies to match the small threadfins. Details in Henry C’s report, below. Your biggest challenge will be the weather, with cold and rainy days heading our way after a warm weekend and Saturday night’s rain. Watch your weather app for warm “weather windows” and the USGS river gauges for favorable flow conditions. Don’t forget to dress for success, too, and keep your fingers and toes warm. https://rabuntu.org/about/educational-programs/secrets/more-winter-trouting-tips/ Reports and Tips: Sautee’s Headwater Report: “Last Saturday afternoon was another fun day on the local wild rainbow stream. Nothing on top but they were especially fond of #16 and #18 beadhead hares ear and hares ear with soft hackle trailed about 24” off the back.” Chattooga DH The Retiree Trio of TH, Sautee, and Dredger met distantly in the parking lot and then spread out on the river from 11 til 5 on Wednesday. TH had a great day on deep, slow buggers, and landed several large brown retirees. He said, “The sink tip worked well, but a heavily weighted bugger on a floating line should do the trick. I just kept it low and slow in the water column. Color matters but over the last few trips it has been impossible to know in advance which color matters. So far over December, vanilla, brown, olive and black have all had their day.” The other two had only a fair day farther upstream by chucking their “legs and eggs” combo. They caught mostly bows, with best at 13 inches, and a few browns up to 16 inches. The water was low, clear, and a cold 44F at 2pm. The usual winter tips will help y’all: slow bottom rolls in the midday warmth. TH went back today (11th) and repeated his bugger success. In contrast, Dredger and his distant sidekick, adopted Rabunite “Spunky,” had a good day, with almost all their luck on the egg fly.

Only one bow ate the Pats rubberleg, while Dredger only had one halfhearted bump in 30 minutes of bugger chucking, and no bites on a small pheasant tail or a red copper John. The water was a warmer 47F at 11am and fish were more active than they were on Wednesday.

Private Waters: A group of guests hit the bend on Wednesday with our UO guides. They had pretty good success, but it was pot luck on the bugs, with no clear pattern dominating the catch. They hooked a few on squirmy worms, a few on pheasant tails, and a couple on flashy nymphs like a lightning bug. Anglers have reported good luck on the following flies this week in the shop. Frenchies #16 or #18 Ruby midge #18 Soft hackle partridge #14 or #16 Squirminator #14 Last Sunday students from the North Paulding High School Fly Fishing & Cold-Water Conservation Club made the 2.5-hour drive to Helen Ga. to fish the fabled waters of Nacoochee Bend. Students were assisted by volunteers from the Cohutta and UCCTU Chapters of Trout Unlimited who served as guides, mentors, photographers, and net men! The Georgia Council Chair of Trout Unlimited, Kathy Breithaupt and her husband Charlie, also attended the event. It was a great day on the water. Rodney D. Tumlin Environmental Science Teacher, AP Environmental Science Teacher, Fly Fishing & Cold Water Conservation Club Sponsor Lanier Henry C said, “Fishing on Lanier continues to be fair at best. You have to work hard to get your shots. There is still schooling going on for surface feeding but those fish are tough to get to.
Another option is to throw on top of the working looms to pick a few fish. Sticking to the area of the lake below Browns Bridge is where all of that action is taking place. Keep an eye on all the gulls which have made it back to No GA for clues as to where the fish are.”
While the trout catching may slow down this month as water temps drop, the fishing is still fun. Hit some local waters, wave and shout hello to your buddy parked many feet away, and distance yourselves on the clear, cold waters of North Georgia soon. Stay smart and safe, dear friends. Good luck and good health to you all. We’ll be glad to serve you curbside or online if that works better for you. https://shoponline.unicoioutfitters.com/?source=facebook

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