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.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

UO Fishing Report - 2/19/21

This week will be warmer and drier and will provide some very good fishing opportunities! Small streams are already fishable, while big streams will take some time to recede to safe wading levels after this week’s 3-4 inches of rain. Watch USGS stream gauges and call local fly shops for stream updates. Your other tools for success are a weather app, a stream thermometer, your trusty nymph box, your dusty dry fly box, and scheduling flexibility. If you can plan your trips for the warm afternoons, catching will be better with increasing water temperatures.

Wes’ weekly hot fly list includes: Skwala stone (olive) #10, Micro mayfly nymph (olive) #16, Squirminator (red, pink) #14, Egg (chartreuse) #14, Simi seal leech (black, red) #10, hares ear nymph #14-18, and a couple dries, the gray elk hair caddis #14-16, and parachute Adams #14-18 as the big dry above your dropper or the small BWO imposter. Angler trip reports, hot tips, and more great pics follow. Good luck and be respectful of high water! Headwaters Landon: “I caught a nice bunch of little wild bows from IDBIS creek while turkey scouting with my dog. Water was cold and high, and fish were found next to woody structure. Fish ignored the dry, but ate the #18 france fly dropper.”
RodneyT, “I have fished my favorite wild Brown Trout stream a few times this past month. The latest artic blast had fish hugging the bottom and the bite has been slow, but picky wild browns can be enticed to bite in the late afternoons when it warms into the high 40's and low 50"s. My best success has been derived from drifting a small black (size 12) woolly bugger and then slowly stripping it back. Dropping a size 16 or 18 pheasant tail behind the bugger can increase your catch rate.” We had a reliable trio of Dukes Creek reporters in Sautee, SimmsFlyGuy, and our own Jake. The standard Smithgall theme held true last week. When the water was clear and normal-to-low, small nymphs on thin tippet (6x) worked, but only when the operator was stealthy. Anglers lucky enough to hit high, dirty water scored on big, meaty bugs like stoneflies and leeches on thicker tippet. Delayed Harvest DH streams have fished well when the weather and water have been favorable. They should fish really well with dropping flows and rising temps this week. “Scratch’s” NGTO Smith Creek report: “Saturday 2/13: I figured the rain and cold would keep the sensible fishermen away from Smiths and I was correct - only a dozen cars in the parking lot at noon. I tried all the sensible flies - Y2Ks, black WD40s, rainbow warriors, olive midges, white midges, eggs, purple rubberlegs, olive rubberlegs, etc... - but the only action I got was on a white foam beetle used for a dry dropper that brought one rainbow to the surface. My resulting jerk put that beetle in a tree above my head, never to be seen again. At about 3:00 I switched over to streamers, figuring I might as well give all my flies an equal opportunity at failing. That turned out to be the best mistake I made all day. A white conehead wooly bugger (bought at UO earlier that day) stripped across the current and upstream brought 5 fish to hand over the rest of the afternoon. I tried several other streamers in that time and it seemed like anything 'weird' drew the interest of the trout. I had another catch on a custom olive wooly bugger with yellow lead eyes and some strikes on a large black sculpin-like pattern with a brown fringe. The streamers performed best in fast-moving water, especially near the heads of pools. Another couple I talked to in the parking lot said they had some luck on Zebra midges after about 3:30. I may be incorrect, but I think that was the end of a break in the rain. Maybe some pressure change triggered a bite. I can confirm that they put some of the large broodstock in at Smiths, but she wasn't interested in anything I threw at her. I'm sure she's had everything but the kitchen sink thrown at her over the last week, so good luck to everyone who tries!”
Chattooga DH: we have no recent reports due to last week’s crummy weather. I took a hike up there today (19th). It was milky and too high to fish safely, but should fish well when it recedes to safe wading levels in a day or two. Hopefully the high flows will spread out Walhalla’s superb February stockers. Remember to match fly size to flows, and try bigger and brighter bugs when the water is swift and stained. Scale down your flies as streams drop and clear. Tailwaters Told you so! UO Facebook followers may recall last week’s post, “Bolo Bugs,” and its videos. Folks on the lookout have indeed spotted waves of fluttering gray caddis on slightly warmer tailwaters like the Toccoa. Thanks to UO friend Daniel Bowman for the intel. Make sure you carry some gray bugs with you as the week’s afternoon sunshine “pops” some caddis like popcorn. Always check generation schedules and be very careful with dam discharges before fishing those tailwaters. Private Waters Nacoochee Bend guest Billy N: “Many thanks to Jake for the great tips today. We didn’t have the luck he thought we would on the section in the pasture, but the middle section made up for it. Look forward to fishing with y’all again soon. “
Our own Jimmy: “Young PJ Fitzpatrick and his dad Pres had a good Thursday afternoon at Nacoochee Bend. Water temperature held at 42 degrees and while there were little black stones coming off all afternoon, the action was deep in the clear cold water. Subtle takes required quick reflexes; something the younger anglers have an advantage with. Best flies at the Bend were a red squirmie worm, a Pats Rubberlegs, and Micro Mayfly, all behind a double scoop of split shot.” Lakes HenryC reports, “Striper fishing remains the same... You gotta pick your days for all the right conditions in order to be successful: a pre-frontal forecast with total cloud cover and preferably light winds (but that is not a game changer if windy). Combine that if possible with either the new or full moon phase and you’re putting all the chips for a good outing on your side of the table. On Monday of this week one of my addicted striper buddies hooked 5 under those exact conditions. This will work on ALL North GA impoundments (not just Lanier). It’s a very specific pattern to follow but one that works. The fish will be active at some point in the day when those conditions exist. If you can add a warming trend to this pattern then the fishing is even better! Let the gulls show you where the fish are. Plan your days to follow this pattern over the next 3-4 weeks and get after them!” Bonus Intel Sign yourselves up for GAWRD’s weekly fishing reports for lakes and streams. Most of you will likely tune into the north Ga segment of the statewide report. It’s great intel because they’re allowed to “cheat” with some electricity and nets... and use that trend data to manage the sport fisheries for our benefit. It’s about time for some hot walleye intel and a grocery run for fresh tartar sauce.
https://georgiawildlife.blog/2021/02/19/georgia-fishing-report-february-19-2021/ Good luck this week as you enjoy a brief taste of spring, maybe even with an afternoon riser or two! Call, email, come in, or pull curbside if we can help you in Helen or Clarkesville. Don’t forget your sunscreen!

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