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, March 26, 2021


 What Do We Do Now?!!!!

Last night's rains have all streams red and ripping; even Smith Creek below the dam.  As of this moment as I'm putting together a "fishing report", a lot of streams are unsafe for wade fishing.  Headwater streams could be fishable by Sunday but the larger rivers will take a few days; particularly if we get more rain over the weekend.  

If you're curious about how much rain we got, the USGS gauge in Helen indicated it reached a level 20

Smith Creek DH
times the normal high water flow when we recommend anglers stay out of the Chattahoocheewhich is around 200 cfs.  So, as you can imagine, it will take some time to drop back.  The good news is that these floods are "stream shapers".  They drop in trees and clean and re-arrange stream cobbles so there may be some new fishing spots to explore when the waters recede.

Some other streamflows across north Georgia as of 8:00 Friday evening:

  • Chattooga River at Hwy. 78 is at 4.37'.  It's dropping quickly but we don't recommend fishing it until it's down to 2' or less.
  • Toccoa River Delayed Harvest is at 3,162 cfs.  We don't recommend wading it when it's over 375 cfs.  This is a very tricky river to wade at normal levels.  It can be deadly at flood levels.
  • Chatthoochee River at Helen is at 1,410 cfs.  See above for safe wading levels.

When they do recede, match your offerings to the flows.  Use bigger flies if the water is still high and cloudy.  And never be afraid to add more split shot!  When flows drop and clear drop down in the size of your flies and choose natural colors for your dries and nymphs. 

Before the storm hit, Georgia DNR ran a heavy stocking schedule on most trout streams.  So, barring them getting washed away, fishing in the coming week could be really good.  For a list of streams that were stocked this week, follow this link.  As you'll see, there are a lot of trout swimming around north Georgia right now. 

Plan "B" may be to hit the ponds and lakes. Vogel, Rock Creek, Winfield Scott, Dockery, and Nancytown lakes have all been stocked this past week.  If you're after bass, stripers, or crappie on our larger lakes, be on the lookout for flood debris that has washed in from upstream rivers.  Muddy water and speed can be an expensive combination if you're boating.  The muddy water areas of lakes will warm quickly so bass and crappie will head toward the shallows.  On large reservoirs, aim for the "mudlines", those transition zones of cloudy waters between blood red and crystal clear.  Those are the prime sites for shad and their predators, spots and stripers, which are hidden in the murky waters.

Wes' Hot Fly List 

This week leans toward some of the high water favorites when finesse takes a back seat to protein.  Squirmy Worm in red, pink, or black.  Girdle Bug in black or dark olive.  Zirdle Bug in black.  Y2K Bug in pink/chartreuse.  Copper John in copper or red.  Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail.  Simi Seal Leech in black/purple.  Sparkle Minnow in sculpin pattern.  Muddy Buddy in black.  And most importantly, a large bag of split shot!

Angler reports on public waters have been slim this past week.  We have the following:

Dukes Creek

We can almost always count on our buddy Ron Wilson to get out on the water and, more importantly, 

give us a report.  "It was a tough day on Dukes Creek last Saturday.  We walked over the hill and fished all of Section 2 after lunch.  Totals amounted to 10 fish between the four of us with a 14-incher being the big fish of the day."  Editor's note:  Friday afternoon there were standing waves on Dukes Creek near the parking lot.

Private Waters

Fishing has been great at Nacoochee Bend this week.  According to Unicoi guide Palmer Loggins, "Soft hackles on the swing were the ticket.  It didn't matter what color.  Some fish were caught on egg patterns but nothing like the soft hackles."

We Give You A Reason to Head to Helen & Clarkesville

Okay, so the fishing may not be good enough for you to come our way but maybe the things Jake, Wes, and Hunter have for you are worth getting out of the house.

  • 40% off all winter clothing; Simms, Patagonia, and Orvis
  • A big shipment of the "Project Cicada" fly just arrived.  Cicada patterns are mostly on backorder from most suppliers but we've got the hottest pattern out there.
  • Our fly bins are all full to the gills with spring selections for trout and bass.
  • We have a large selection of new fly boxes on hand for warm water, dry flies, and nymphs.
  • For our fly tyers we have the largest selection of materials we've ever had.
  • Some rods that have been hard to get are now in stock:  The Orvis Clearwater 7'6" 3 wts. are in as are the Echo small steam rods and Euro Nymphing rods.
  • All the new Orvis packs; slings, waist, and chest.
That's it for this week.  Stream fishing will be touch and go for the next few days in our area.  Use good judgment if you decide to go.  And remember, if you get in trouble, no one can go upstream and turn the water off so you can get out.  It just keeps on coming.  Please be safe out there! 



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