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!

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