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.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Rainbow Romance

Tis the season for “rainbow romance.”  Research by GAWRD and UGA in the 1980’s revealed that north Georgia rainbow trout spawn from mid-December through March, but the greatest activity occurred from mid-February to mid-March.

Use this intel to your advantage. First, think of travel routes as big bows migrate toward clean spawning gravels. Second, don’t pass up the skinny water in your haste toward the deep pools. Third, consider egg and nymph patterns as you make your drifts through those shaded runs and riffles.

If you see a redd, with or without paired fish over it, go around it. That oval of polished gravel might hold the next generation of trophies for you.  But you probably won’t, as those redds are scattered up and down our clean headwater streams and, after one rain, are hard to spot.  Plus, research in the Southeast has shown that floods and droughts are the main factors affecting wild rainbow trout populations in our headwater streams.  

When you hook a brute, fight it carefully.

Here are a few tips, based on my own experience while recreating  and while snatching invaluable DNR broodfish in a past chapter of life:

  1. Stay below it if possible. Let the fish fight both you and the current. Sprint below it if you have to.
  2. Let the fish win the first round (run) and expel its nervous energy. Don’t clamp down on your drag.
  3. Fight it sidearm (!!!) and eventually steer it where you want it to go.
  4. Patience wins title fights. The fish will tell you when you have the upper hand when it tires and lets you start turning it.
  5. Keep your legs together during a close fight. Don’t let a wide stance look like a woody escape tunnel.
  6. Hide your net til the end. As the trophy allows you to bring it close, finally lift its head toward the surface and surprise it with a tennis-swipe, headfirst, into the net. 
  7. Keep the netted fish in the water while you ready your camera or holler for your friend. “Keepfishwet” is your first priority!  A quick pic or two is secondary.
  8. Release it quickly, then rest on the streambank to celebrate your victory.

For more tips on hunting and landing big fish, peruse “secrets of the Rabunites” and the great columns at Troutbitten.com.  



Give us a call at the shop (706-878-3083) for the latest intel, and remember to SIDEARM during your epic battle.  Good luck during this season of rainbow romance!

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