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 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.😉

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