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 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.

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