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, January 29, 2021

UO Fishing Report - January 29, 2021

Our winter weather pattern continues, as does hope for some angling success. At least it hasn’t been super-cold, with stream temperatures below 40 degrees. That would really curtail trout appetites. Monday night’s 2 inches of rain have already passed and streamflows have returned to normal. My midday stream tour today revealed normal flows, gin-clear water, and nervous fish when the sun is high above them. Saturday looks dry, Sunday will be soggy, and the weekdays are dry until Thursday night. Overall, we have some decent chances to escape and distance ourselves for a mental health afternoon in the woods or on the water.

Our winter fishing pattern continues, too. Dredge deep for trout, especially if it’s cold, and be on the lookout for winter hatches on warm afternoons. Squint to see the tiny winter stones, blue wing olives, and midges in slow seams and eddies. Go slow, study the stream, and let the fish, bugs, and your stream thermometer prescribe your setup. Then rig your rod on a sunny streambank. Aim for smaller bugs right now. If it’s really cold, don’t shy away from some Euronymphing. Just pack a colored sighter, some extra 6x tippet, and a half dozen tungsten Euronymphs in your pocket. Remember that this bottom-dragging technique saved me from a slow day, as described in last week’s report. On the reservoir front, Henry brings us renewed hope, with fish found in open water and along the banks. The hot fly was his Something Else. See his latest report, below. Remember the extra intel in each weekly GAWRD blog, too: https://georgiawildlife.blog/category/fishing/
You’ll enjoy the “trout adventure story” link in today’s edition. Here’s this week’s hot fly list and our latest angler reports, as fresh as today! Hot Fly List Wes and Hunter’s hot fly list for this week includes: #10 brown and black rubberleg stones, #12 peach eggs, #16 black hares ear or black copper john, #18 root beer and trout crack midges, #18 pearl lightning bug, #20 gray RS2, and #20 WD40’s in gray, brown, or black. For Euro’s try:#14 walts worm, #16 red tag, and small (16-18) Frenchies and CDC pheasant tails. For dries, carry #16-20 Adams, #20 BWO’s, #18 black stones or caddis, and #22-24 cream and black midges. Headwaters Most headwaters have been a bit slow due to the colder temperatures. The best success has been on the bottom, so try a dry/ dropper rig, but expect few surface eats and use a longer tippet on your weighted prince or pheasant tail to get down to the bottom-huggers. Dukes has fished well for Smithgall reservation holders. Success there is always related to onstream experience. Clear water dictates 6x, tiny nymphs, and lightened reel drags. Dirty runoff allows for heavy tippets, big bugs, big nets, and a good camera!

Delayed Harvest
Low, cold, super-clear water continues to make Smith DH challenging. See last week’s tips for success there. The action picked up a bit with today’s sunshine, as new reporter “UGA Marty” checked in with this morning’s trip results: “Caught two on a squirmy worm from a deep hole where a pod of fish was stacked up. Also caught 2 on pink/orange eggs in semi-fast water just below a couple different pools. Had to leave at 1PM before the fish really started getting active. People were starting to pile into the parking lot when I left, but only 3 or 4 cars were there when I first arrived at 10. A couple of other guys said they had only caught 1 fish each.

On Smith, I’d also suggest that you pull out your “summer stealth” technique for those spooky fish in clear pools. Try a dry/dropper rig with a tiny nymph or midge on 2-3 feet of 6X or 7X tippet trailing the bushy dry. On flat pools, you might even sneak in above your targets, cast, and let your combo drift down to them.

The same “slow and deep” theme goes for Amicalola DH, where most anglers fish over the surviving salmonids, glued to the bottom in the deepest pools. A few years ago, Landon figured them out and shared his secret. See “A New Twist” here:
Bump the very deep pool bottoms and you might have a chance at Ami.

Athens Alan escaped to Chattooga DH last weekend and reported, “ The water was super-clear and gauge height was 1.9 and falling, the best level I have fished in a while. My feet were not really that cold while standing in 42-degree water. At least it was liquid and not solid.
There were some clouds of really small BWO’s at 11AM, but I saw no rises and kept dredging. I sat on the bank for lunch at 2PM and saw two rises. I quickly finished lunch and switched to a #16 parachute Adams and a #18 PMD, cast, and caught both fish! I stayed with the dries and caught 7 more fish by my 5 PM quitting time. I saw a few bugs but no real hatches through the afternoon.
It was a nice trip. I brought 11 to hand, with 9 of them on dries. It was great catching trout on dry flies on January 23rd!”

Here’s a brief midwinter tip: reservoirs are heat sinks and their tailwaters will typically run a few degrees warmer in winter than mountain streams, where icy air temps control stream temps. If dam discharges allow for safe fishing, keep the Unicoi (Smith), Blue Ridge, and Buford Dam tailwaters in mind for your winter excursions.

Private Waters
Our Hooch and Soque trips have gone fairly well for midwinter. Best flies remain a larger attractor (egg or stonefly) in front and a very small nymph dropper off the back. Guides have dropped down a tippet size when the water is low and clear. Some tiny droppers, like root beer midges and WD40’s, can save the day when fish get picky. Catching picks up around lunchtime as the sun hits the water.

HenryC said, ”Lake Lanier action actually took an uptick this week. Fish were surfacing under birds in open water and on the bank. Most of this uptick was due to two factors: 1) lots of overcast/prefrontal weather and 2) the upside of the full moon. Once we get past the moon and sunny skies prevail I suspect we will go back to slower fishing. Catches of 3-8 per day were the norm. Fish were taken strictly on the somethin’ else fly. Both sinking and intermediate lines were the ticket depending on where we saw the fish (shallow or deep). Fish were also taken next to loons that were corralling threadfin shad. All in all, it was a surprisingly good week for the end of January.”
That’s the latest midwinter intel from our UO staff and fishing friends. Contact us if we can help you further with your hydrotherapy plans. Stay safe, distanced, and healthy. Good luck!

Friday, January 22, 2021

UO Fishing Report- January 22, 2021

Summary: Let’s label this report “winter hibernation.” Cold, cloudy days dampened last week’s success rates, while the few sunny afternoons warmed the waters, enhanced bug and trout activity, and boosted angler catches a bit. Going forward, let the weather be your guide. If you can, aim your trips for sunny, warmer afternoons. Forecasted air temps that exceed 50 degrees will push water temps into the mid-to-upper 40’s and enhance your hookup rates.

The weekend forecast is promising! Be on the lookout for midges, blue wing olives, and little black stoneflies, and be ready with those dry fly patterns. The best bugs for your nymph box right now are rubberleg stones, peach eggs, RS2’s, root beer midges, sexy Walts worms, and pheasant tails in both nymph and soft hackle forms. Lanier stripers are deep and very slow for flyfishers. Here are the latest reports from the field. Oh, and by the way, WES CAUGHT A MONSTER MUSKIE! Headwaters: Sautee just got home from an afternoon trip to his favorite blueline. He said it was a nice, warm afternoon of fishing. The catching, however, was slow, with one wild rainbow rising to his caddis dry and three more taking his bead-head pheasant tail dropper. Delayed Harvest: Smith Creek has fished slow, according to shop guests and web reports. Those cold, educated fish are spooky and picky right now in the low, clear water. Try a) a stealthy approach and b) a single, tiny nymph rolled along the bottom on 6X or 7X tippet. This is prime time for small (16-20) Euronymphs. Also, fish the places that most anglers pass over. Better yet, walk farther away from the parking lot and hit the logjams and overgrown runs, where casting is tough for rookies. Sautee and Dredger socially distanced at Chattooga DH during a cold and cloudy Tuesday. Water temp was probably about 40 at their noon start, and measured 44 at 4pm. It was cold and slow, but still fun. Sautee started off hot, with several nice rainbows immediately dredged from a deep pool on an olive/brown Pats rubberlegs. He cooled off suddenly and decided to end his game after only one hour on the field. A bit farther upstream, Dredger scored early in his game, with a small brown eating his Oreck egg. But that was his only score for the entire first half of the game. He did bounce the ball off the goal post when he saw the egg attached to the rainbow trout’s derrière instead of its lip, so that score did not count. The third quarter brought some hope. The sun peeked out at 2pm for 30 minutes and a scattering of blue wing olives hatched in front of him. Sporadic rises followed. He changed his game plan from indicator dredging to dry/dropper, with a #20 BWO dry trailed by a #20 pheasant tail. Alas, his confidence exceeded his ability, and he was shut out again. But he had captured some opponent addresses, so he changed his game plan for the fourth quarter. That was the charm, and he scored a half dozen rainbows on his Euronymphing rig to end his game on a high note. The hot bug was a #12 sexy Walt’s worm. Sautee offered these additional words of wisdom. First, a wading staff works much better if it’s not tucked into its holster. Second, don’t tip over horizontally in 40-degree water and fill your waders unless: 1) you have a change of clothes in the car, and 2) you're ready to call it a day. Private Waters: UO guide Hunter reports, “There has been plenty of midge activity on the Hooch when the sun comes out. Small soft hackles, RS2’s, and root beer midges were the ticket for Barry and Laurie on their Gilligan Special last Sunday. http://www.unicoioutfitters.com/product/gilligan-special/

UO guide Palmer reports, “We fished Nacoochee Bend one morning this week. It was pretty slow until the sun touched the water. I wouldn’t rush to be the first person to the stream in the mornings. The afternoons will produce the best bite as the water warms. I’m using a good bit of split shot with a stonefly imitation as the lead fly and something small dropped off the back. Soft hackle wets and midge patterns have been working well as my trailers.
Lanier HenryC reports, “Water temps are really starting to drop and we are seeing that temp drop relate to our striper fishing. Fish are not moving as much and appear to be heading deeper. The bait guys are still catching them but I suspect by month’s end we will need to wait til March to find any consistency in feeding fish. There’s probably another week left to put together a decent catch of stripers, spots, and largemouth. This winter was somewhat of a disappointment. With frequent fronts coming thru since mid-November, we had a few good outings but inconsistent success through this season. Oh well... spring will soon be upon us. Long live March's pre-spawn!” https://www.henrycowenflyfishing.com/

Memorable Road Trip For those of you who may only tune in on Fridays, here’s this week’s highlight. UO assistant manager Wes took a boat ride with awesome Virginia fishing guide and fly designer Blane Chocklett (@blanechocklettfishing). It was the ride of a lifetime. Wes’ fly-rod muskie stretched the tape north of 50 inches! We look forward to the full story when Wes gets resettled down here.

That’s the latest midwinter fishing intel from our gang at Unicoi Outfitters. Give us a call or stop by either store if we can lend a hand. Go slow, stay warm and safe, and follow the sunshine. Don’t forget that dry change of clothes tucked in the trunk, just in case.😉

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Our Top Three Winter Droppers

 What are your top three small nymphs to drop behind your big lead fly while winter dredging?

For many of us, a pheasant tail, hare’s ear, or prince nymph is a very popular trailer. Common sizes are 14-18, and maybe a few size 20’s on the pheasant tails. We like those first two patterns in natural and black colors. The trio are great imitators of the small clinging mayfly, stonefly, and caddisfly nymphs and larva that cover boulder bottoms. One good example is this mayfly nymph, probably a March Brown. Check out those gills working overtime in this live bug video!
We tossed three patterns into the crockpot to start this conversation. Lend a hand to the new flyfishers among us. What are your winter go-to’s?

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Fishing With Big Bugs

If you’ve ever wondered why a rubberleg stonefly nymph is a popular pattern these days, just use your net to dredge up a pack of decaying leaves and twigs from an eddy and sort through it. You’ll likely discover these big ole vegetarians in that brown buffet line.

And with a big profile and more calories than an itty bitty midge, stonefly nymphs will attract attention from the bigger fish in the pool. Stonefly nymphs- don’t leave home without them this winter and spring.
Call or come by Unicoi Outfitters (706-878-3083) if you need to restock your box.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 1/15/21


706-878-3083 Summary: It’s the middle of January and our fishing conditions are “low, slow, and chilly.” Streams are running low and clear. The good news is that they are not ice-cold, with rivers running in the 40-45 degree range. Those water temps give you a decent shot at some fish. Headwaters are running a few degrees lower and, with a few exceptions on warmer days, are a bit slower than mainstreams. As we’ve said before, match your flies to flows. Low and clear water suggests smaller eggs, rubberleg stones, or buggers as your first fly on 5x tippet. Then go tiny on the dropper, with a size 18 pheasant tail, hares ear, rainbow warrior, WD-40, or Frenchie trailed behind on 6x tippet. If the water is skinny, lighten up your indicator, too, or give Euronymphing a try. Keep an eye out in soft currents for hatching blue wing olives (#20) or little black stoneflies (#18). You might be pleasantly surprised by an hour of dry fly action on warm afternoons. If you don’t have a dry stonefly, grab a black or gray elk hair caddis, press down, and give it a mohawk haircut. The long, slim profile should fish well. Here is Wes’ weekly hot bug list: -Frenchies #16 and #18 -Black hares ear #16 -Slush eggs in pink and orange #12 -Gray RS2’s #20 Fresh angler reports follow on our longer Facebook edition. Good luck and put your health first if you go. Drive, hike, and wade carefully. And remember your best fishing friend every winter: the sun. Headwaters:

Sautee hit a White County blueline earlier this week and said: “My favorite rainbow stream produced well again. Fish were hunkered down with sub-50 degree air temps and there was no interest in my dry/strike indicator, unlike every other trip so far this year. Fish are certainly in winter mode. Nonetheless, it was a good day using a #16 tungsten bead head soft hackle hares ear. With fish hunkered down, the tungsten bead head was the key component in getting the fly down fast in front of hungry wild fish. In small stream fishing because of tight spaces due to overhanging rhododendron, you don’t always have the luxury of placing your fly far enough upstream of the spot where fish should be hanging out. That means getting your fly down in the water column quickly helps you produce more takes. Fishing is still good in high elevation, clear streams, but be in stealth mode with fast sinking flies to be most effective! “

Jimmy said: “Upon arriving at the Chattooga DH only to discover 17 other cars parked there and along the highway, Mark and I decided to go fish a beautiful, unnamed wild trout creek yesterday afternoon (14th). Considering we had bluebird skies and crystal clear water that was pretty chilly, the fishing was predictably slow. However, when you allow yourself to enjoy your surroundings, and you have it to yourself, you realize there are some things more important than "catching". The hookups we did have came on tungsten bead Prince Nymphs fished deep. “ DH: Smith has been hit or miss. Hits are by vets and misses are by rookies. Stealth, light tippets, and tiny bugs on the bottom are earning the higher batting averages. No recent reports on Tooga, except for the crowd found yesterday. It oughta fish the same as last week. Have an egg attractor within a foot of your split shot and drop a little pheasant tail 12-18” off the back. Consider putting a small tin split shot on the tippet between the two flies to get that dropper down, too. Try a #4 or 6 Dinsmore. Rabunites call this winter technique the “Dinsmore split.” Hunter tried the Ami and gave a truthful report:” Hey the newbies gotta know that even fishing guides have slow days, too! It was a tough Sunday on the Ami. Caught one in the first few minutes around 11:00 then nothing for the next few hours. Didn’t get a water temp for you though. The first one ate a black rubber leg stone. When the sun did manage to hit the water though there was a fair amount of midges coming off but no takers on any midge pattern in any life cycle form. Still good to be on the water though.” Smithgall:

RonW checked in: “Moe and I met up at Duke's on Saturday 1-10 to socially fishstance after snagging two spots the day before. We got into the fish almost immediately. A few on a tungsten BH CDC nymph. A few more came on the egg. We worked all the "passed up" water most of the day and it paid off big time. We spotted a few fish from up above the water and then went in and caught them, which is always super rewarding. The breakfast of champions was on the menu all day. biggest fish landed was 19" and few more in the 16-17" range. Great times as always on the water!”

Landon snatched a Wednesday no-show slot at lunchtime and reported:” Slow til about 3 when I had fished up to there. Then found ‘em wedged in a honey hole like cordwood. Broke off a couple, but landed quite a few in an hour there. Fly didn’t matter. They ate “5 shot and a good drift” in the deep pools. They were glued to the bottom and the ones I saw eat didn't move but a couple inches. Typical winter fishing.” Private waters:

UO manager Jake’s report: “Fished Nacoochee Bend on Sunday afternoon with new anglers, Sam and Brock. It was a cold day, but the fish became active once the sun was high in the sky. We were into fish consistently, but the highlight of the day was Brock’s big rainbow which had Hardman Heritage Trail hikers stopping to watch the battle. Brock’s big fish drug us up and down the river a few times, but he remembered his coaching lessons we covered during the beginning of his Gilligan Special and was able to get his trophy in the net. We landed fish on a variety of different patterns including Prince Nymphs, Soft Hackles, bigger stoneflies, and Rainbow Warriors.”

HenryC sez: “Stripers are eating a little better now. Both north and south lake are showing fish. Birds are helpful as are coves that are a tad warmer than the main lake or creek. Small flies are the ticket and early and late in the day is best with PM having a slight advantage. Look for fish under birds as well as in the backs of the creeks and coves.”
https://www.henrycowenflyfishing.com/ ‘21 Rendezvous canceled: All friends of the Rabunites should note that their annual winter shindig at Dillard House will take this year off to protect everyone’s health: https://www.facebook.com/rabuntu/ Good luck this week, whether you’re home perfecting your Oreck eggs, taking notes from Orvis podcasts, or carefully heading astream for some mental health maintenance. Call or come by the Helen or Clarkesville store if we can help you stay afloat in today’s turbulent times.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Inland Striper Intel!

Unicoi Outfitters congratulates young Tyson England on his video production skills and thanks him for sharing it with us. We now share it with all of you and hope it fires you up for your striper hunting adventures in the new year. Enjoy!


We have Henry’s book, too. Just visit or call the shop at 706-878-3083 to get a copy, or you can order it online at Unicoioutfitters.com.
https://shoponline.unicoioutfitters.com/fly-fishing-for-freshwater-striped-bass-henry-cowe.html Good luck to all of our fellow striper stalkers. And thanks again to Tyson and his able assistant, @JoshEnglandPhotos for today’s great entertainment!

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Eggs Over Easy

Winter weekend brunch, anyone? May I suggest some eggs? Here’s my favorite recipe, and it doesn’t get any simpler. In fact, we Rabunites call it the Oreck Easy Egg. Here’s the page from our Rabuntu.org cookbook:

1. Cut an inch-long strip of light-colored (apricot or peach) egg yarn. Split it lengthwise to make two eggs. 2. Lay one strand on top of a #12 caddis hook; lash down at strand midpoint. 3. Pick both ends of the strand straight up and wind them together as the base of a parachute post. 4. Cut the yarn about 1/3 inch up from the base with an up-across-down motion of scissors. 5. The short para post should now splay out like a mushroom. 6. Glue the thread base. 7. Pop a red dot on top with a sharpie. You’re done; fish don’t know it’s just half an egg. 8. Tie a bunch and fish them deep as your lead fly during our egg season, December thru February.

Back story: the pattern came from the first young dude I mentored, 20+ years ago. He saw it on TV, tied it, and showed me. He was a machine and the Rabunites nicknamed him Oreck for his trout vacuuming skills. He’s now known as LineManDan and chases elk and cutts near Denver. We still love his egg!
Mentor a rookie. They just might end up teaching YOU a trick or two. And enjoy your January brunch! Call 706-878-3083 or swing by our Helen fly shop if you need more help with your winter tying & trouting menu.

Friday, January 8, 2021

UO Fishing Report- January 8, 2021

Summary: Dive Deep!!! We had less than 0.5 inches of rain last night and air temps have been moderate, so streamflows and temps are good. Your biggest concern won’t be snowfall totals, but ice on curvy mountain roads in the morning and ALL DAY on their shady stretches. It’s 38F and raining now (noon) in Helen. Russell Highway is closed. Beware and be safe! Also, please ensure you’ve “caught” our tips on temperatures and strike indicators in our prior posts this week. They’ll help you catch more fish. Fishing updates: Delayed Harvest: December stockers are still naive, unless angling pressure has put them down for the day. Best flies: eggs, rubberlegs, small black, brown, and olive buggers stripped low and slow, rainbow warriors. Weekday pressure has died as holiday crowds have returned to work. Wild streams: some activity on warm days. Watch for predicted air temps up near 50 for your best blueline action. Best flies: your favorite buoyant dry (stimmy, Caddis, para-Adams, chubby Chernobyl) and a natural dropper (pheasant tail, hates ear, small black stone, olive caddis larva). Or dredge Wes’ favorite, a tiny black bugger. Private waters are still fishing well, especially in the afternoons. Residents have been fished hard all fall and have smartened up. A big attractor (egg, rubberleg, bugger) on 4 or 5x and a small dark nymph dropper on 5 or even 6x are good bets. Bring a bunch of patterns and change til you dial them in. And back off your drag before you cast that 6x dropper into the drink. We want cheers, not tears. Grab a winter weekday afternoon and you may have the whole stream to yourself. Got split shot? Most lake stripers are still deep. Carry a spinning rod with you if they are hanging below the 20-foot limit of your sinking fly line and especially your patience to count down looong before starting the retrieve. Best flies are the usual shad imitators: something else, polar fibre minnows, game changers, gray/white clousers. Spin fans should bring some weighted flukes, Capt Mack’s jigs, and deep running plugs. Trip reports follow. Smith DH anglers are doing okay, especially on uncluttered weekdays. Junk flies are now often ignored, but fish are being fooled by stealthy stalks, 6x tippet, and tiny (18, 20) nymphs and midges. Sautee and a distant buddy had a couple good days on Tooga DH. They just about had the entire river to themselves on warm weekday afternoons. A #8 black bugger with lots of built-in flash was the hot fly. It had to be stripped slowly and deep, or just held in the current and occasionally twitched. Sautee said he even dipped his rod tip a foot into the water to compensate for his floating line. If you’re gonna bugger-fish, consider extra shot, a sink tip line, or a polyleader to dunk your bug down to trout-nose level.
https://www.orvis.com/p/7-trout-and-10-salmon-polyleader/1R5G Sautee also said, “This last rain did us a favor. Fish were pretty spread out throughout the river. With it running high, the fish had plenty of room to move around and claim their own space. Waders need to be very careful when flows are high after winter rains.” Landon said, “Good morning on Dukes at Smithgall. Got there right at 8:30 and snagged one of last two no-shows. Lead fly didn't matter and caught 1-2 on all the likely bigger stuff but the size 20 pheasant tail never came off. Couldn’t keep any of the bigger fish on for any reason but the fish really turned on right at 11. Caught a nice bunch of chunky wild bows.” UO manager Jake: “Had a Gilligan Special on the 30th at Nacoochee Bend. Water was still up slightly, but running clear. Managed to land a handful of fish with a couple of long-distance releases. The key was getting right on the bottom, at one point I was slinging 4 BB size shot. The fish weren't too selective on patterns as we caught them on a variety of small midges trailed behind egg patterns. If I had to pick the top producing fly it would have been a Rootbeer Midge. Still a few Rootbeers left in the shops, with a fresh shipment showing up any day now. “ (FYI- the Gilligan Special is a great intro to Flyfishing. http://www.unicoioutfitters.com/learn-to-fly-fish-2/ UO Asst Manager Wes: “Here is the hot fly list: -Black nymphs in #14 and #16 to imitate little black stones. -Split case BWO’s #16-#18 -Jig rubber leg stones #10 -Flashback red tag jig #14 and #16 -Sparkle minnow #6 both “black light” and “JJ” have been good colors I had a quick 2-hour wild trout trip with a buddy Sunday morning. We caught a handful of rainbows all on #10 black wooly buggers.” UO guide Hunter: “I have seen myself and heard from a few Nacoochee Bend guides and customers about good emerger activity around the 12-3 time frame. Mainly midges, with a few BWO’s. I also see this at Smith when conditions are right. A tiny dry with a small emerger dropped off the back might be worth a try. We just got more mops, slush eggs, and tungsten jig nymphs into the Helen store and have some more heavy rubberleg stones on the way. These are great patterns for winter anglers.” Legendary UO guide Coach Mac: “Rick Howe caught this beautiful brown on New Year's Eve at Riverside on the Soque. We were fishing my special midge patterns on the bottom.” UO Guide Palmer: “I had real good holiday trips to Rainbow Point (pic) and Nacoochee Bend. Last week on the bend eggs and soft hackles dropped off the back were working well. Split shot was key; the more the better! Also, put the flies in those runs multiple times and adjust their depth before moving on to another spot.” Jimmy found some spaghetti on his Lanier graph, but the fish were deep and moody. His duo finally scored a striper at about 20 ft on a Z-Man Streakz in pearl. If you go, be slow and safe while driving, hiking, and wading. It’s not a good time to seek medical treatment! It is a good time of the year to restock your fly boxes and overdose on football if you decide to shelter in place. Give us a call if we can help you further with flies, supplies, and stream intel. Good luck and good health to all of you, dear UO friends.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Trout "Golfing" with Indicators

Strike indicators are sorta like golf clubs. Since they’re small and light, I usually carry a large selection and pick the right “club” for the shot at hand. Here’s a brief list. Feel free to add your own ideas, once again, as your comments enhance our conversation and help our minnows.

1. Deep winter pools = the Airlock (formerly a Thingamabobber or a balsa crappie float).
2. Cold, shallow, and faster water= a 4-color piece of Orvis 0X tactical sighter tippet (supple mono) for my Euro nymphing rig. I pre-rig a few with tippet rings and carry them in an empty leader bag.
3. Shallower spring pools and runs with naive fish=bright orange Lightning Strike football Indi, sized to match the freight to float. The surgical tubing in the slit makes depth adjustments quick and easy.
4. Same as #3, but smarter fish= change color to white to match stream bubbles and foam.
5. Flat water and nervous fish= yarn Indi that won’t land with a loud “plop” like the Airlocks and footballs do.
6. Spring searching= a buoyant dry to match the current hatch while floating the nymph or soft hackle below it.
7. Late spring, low water nymphing= a tiny bead of Orvis or Loon strike putty.
8. My “summer stealth Indi” = yellow stimulator, often cast and drifted downstream so the flies and not the leader are the first items entering the trout’s sight window. Other UO staffers really like the chubby Chernobyl.
9. “Universal indicator” = # 14 parachute Adams. When Jimmy and I are clueless and searching, whether here, the Smokies, Montana, or Argentina, we revert to “Ole Reliable!” Everything eats an Adams. Pick or tie one with extra hackle and a thick para post for better floatation with a dropper.

That’s my trouting “golf bag” of Indi’s. What’s in yours?

Saturday, January 2, 2021

UO Fishing Report - 1/2/21


Happy new year! It started out wet, so it’s a good time right now for fly-tying and online shopping at home (remember your gift certificates). Trout streams are warmer than normal, but running very high from yesterday’s 2.5 inches of rain. Big streams will take a couple days to drop.
https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/uv?site_no=02176930 They’ve also been crowded by holiday anglers, so individual catch totals were smaller due to competition for good spots and the cold water between the two holidays. Fishing conditions will improve as flows subside over the next few days and holiday crowds finally disperse. Air temps will also bump up water temps and trout appetites. Best trout bugs, based on last week’s results, will continue to be: egg patterns, rubberleg stones, pheasant tail nymphs, and soft hackle wets, and small Euronymphs (perdigons were hot). Hint: match flies to flows! Use bigger and brighter bugs when rivers are running fast and fish must make quick lunch decisions., Scale down to smaller, natural colored flies as flows subside and your quarry can study your offerings. Lake stripers have been slow and deep. Graphing and “countdown” fishing with fast-sinking fly lines, or nightlight fishing, have put the few stripers in the boat. Something Else’s, Game Changers, clousers, and polar fibre minnows have been the best shad patterns for lake stripers and spots. Recent angler reports follow on our extended version of this report on Facebook. GAWRD and SCDNR apparently tossed some Christmas gifts into our Delayed Harvest waters and the naive fish helped holiday catch rates a bit. Smith anglers did well on eggs, bright nymphs, and tiny Euronymphs if and when they found pools that weren’t already fished by 10 previous guests. Several Chattooga reporters said the catching was slow due to cold water (below 45) and competition for prime pools. Some nice “Walhalla retirees” of the brook and brown varieties were landed, and those trophies compensated for low catch totals. Size 12-14 Eggs (yarn and a pegged Alaska bead), #16 yellow perdigons, and #10 brown Pats rubberlegs were the top patterns. All had to be dredged “low and slow.” Fondled fish were icy to the touch. Hunter had a guided trip to Smith DH and reported: “Father/son duo Scott and Julian explored some public water options on Smith Creek last week. Plenty of fish to hand on small flashy nymphs dropped below a hopper pattern, including this 18” to cap off the day” Sautee did well bluelining on a warm afternoon before Christmas. Half of the little wild bows ate the caddis dry and the other half ate his beaded pheasant tail dropper. If streams warm a bit more this week, headwaters might be worth a look. Private waters fished okay, especially in the midday warmth. Hunter reported: “David and Deb got out for a Gilligan Special last week and, while it was a little slow to start, both managed a fish including this nice dark rainbow that Deb managed to wrangle in. We had the most luck with a typical nymph setup, dropping small natural bugs behind an attractor pattern. I just had to keep swapping it up (changing patterns) to keep the action going. Stripers were slow. Both Henry C and Jimmy gave them a shot, but most were deep, tight-lipped, or both. Henry said: “Fish are deep. No fly fishing until the bait and then the fish get shallow. This should happen anytime... hopefully! In the meantime, you can fish deep points early in AM for a few spotted bass or fish nighttime dock lights to pick some easy fish.” Landon confirmed Henry’s nightlight forecast. Capt Mack also added some new year intel on yesterday’s post: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Fishing-Store/CaptainMacks/about/ It sounds like a good time to read Henry’s book and prepare for striper ascent. https://shoponline.unicoioutfitters.com/fly-fishing-for-freshwater-striped-bass-henry-cowe.html?source=facebook We will close with the same thoughts before the holidays. Stay distant and safe. If you must get outside for a “mental health day,” then go local and go slow (driving, walking, and wading) and be careful in the outdoors. Put a rod length or two between yourselves. We don’t want to add any more work for our healthcare heroes during these continuing tough times for all Georgians. Being smart now will give us the happiest of NEW years, as we hopefully expand our angling adventures in the post-vaccine era. And make many more lifetime memories with our best fishing buddies. Give us a call if we can help you with stream updates, hot flies, or some ideas for your federal stimulus checks. May this new year be very good to y’all!