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, April 23, 2021

UO Fishing Report- 4/23/21

We had another great week of north Georgia fishing and the week ahead looks equally promising. There is just one big bump in the road, our Saturday soaker. An inch or more of rain is expected, with strong storms possible, so Saturday is iffy. Sunday may be a washout on bigger streams if we indeed see an inch or more of rain. Be ready with some high-water Plan B’s (small streams, ponds, and lakes) while you wait for rivers to recede. Don’t forget the storm hatch (worms) and have some San Juan’s or squirmies ready for discolored streams.

Check flows before you go. Best bets are USGS gauges and favorite fly shops. Remember that the Hooch-Helen gauge even has a river camera that YOU can operate remotely!
We’re still in the middle of the spring bug buffet. Don’t leave home without some stimmies, Adams cahills, caddis, and a headlamp. I got home last night at 10:30, with a sore casting arm and a big smile!
Cold nights might force you to dredge til the afternoon sun warms the water, so be flexible and let water temps guide your technique.
Our extended version of this report, with Wes’ hot fly list and guide/fishing buddy reports, follows on our FB page and, for non FB’ers, at blog.angler.management.
Work around the rain and appreciate it, since we’re 4.5 inches short this year. Toss a squirmy on 3X into a honey hole and you might become a real “big” fan of dirty water!
Wes’ hot fly list:
Stimulator (yellow, olive), tan Cahill, Elk hair caddis, Royal trude
Nymphs & wets:
Soft hackle pheasant tail, Bird turd, Girdle bug, Jigged soft hackle prince, Silver lightning bug, death metal pheasant tail, Depth charge caddis
Streamers & warmwater:
Kreelex, Triple double leech, Hot cone bugger, Boogle bug (solar flare), Bugger changer,
Jiggy craw, Polar changer and Cowen’s coyote, both in chartreuse/white.
Angler intel:
Hunter hunted specks after work and had some afternoon fun:
Wes weighed in, “I had a wild trout guide trip with UO client Damien on Sunday. We caught some chunky rainbows between 6”-9” that were more than happy to rise up to an olive stimulator.”
Delayed Harvest:
Smith has been running low and clear. Try your best stalking with light tippet and small bugs during the day. Try a short dry/dropper combo if you stay til dark. The last hour of daylight on Smith can be magical.
Dredger took full advantage of April prime time. He hit Chattooga DH last Saturday night and again last night (22nd). His Saturday recipe for three big scoops of salmonids is here:
Yesterday he decided to go back and beat the weekend rain. Cold weather had his expectations of bugs and risers fairly low. They rose, however, as he crossed the river, saw small bugs buzzing, and measured water temp at 58. Fish backs were rolling occasionally in the first shallow run. He never figured out the small emerger they were sipping from the film, but he caught a small handful on his yellow stimmy and pot luck dropper (half the patterns in his wet box) to make him happy. (Ed note: if YOU decipher the emergers, please help out Ole Dredger).
He was pleasantly surprised as the cool weather pushed cahills to pop earlier than expected. There were a few at 4, more at 5, and enough from 6-730 to turn on the river switch. His #12 stimmy/ 16 cahill combo was consistently assaulted, especially when moved via twitches and skitters. When cahills left, browns still crushed the stimmy as the shadows fell. He actually caught “enuf” to call it quits early at 8 and walk out in the twilight.
Dredger ran up to Nan DH on Sunday evening (18th). It was cool and there wasn’t a good hatch of bugs. Sparse cahill spinners showed up late to dance and drop eggs. No wild fish were fondled since they did not have good reason to look up.
It didn’t matter, however, as chunky DH stockers inhaled his stimmy/caddis combo. Most hit the stimmy, which is apparently brown trout candy. Some nice brooks and a few bows added to the hefty total. Both dead drifts and twitches worked. His tips: Find the soft spots, cast and drift, and wait. If they don’t hit the drift, then cast again and twitch. After 2-3 casts, just move up the bank and hit the next soft spot -along the bank or behind the midstream boulder.
Private Waters:
Wes: “I also did a couple trips on Nacoochee Bend this week. It fished pretty good. Right now with the clear flows, the fish are just being a little picky so you have to cycle through a few fly changes to figure out what they might want. On Tuesday prince nymphs, soft hackles, squirmy worms, and small pheasant tails worked well. On a breezy Wednesday afternoon, the best flies were small lightning bugs and rubber leg stoneflies.”

Palmer: “Fishing was tough yesterday (4/22) with the cold snap. We caught nearly everything on soft hackles and maybe one of two on the egg. Catching will improve as air and water temperatures rebound quickly.”
Athens Jay checked in: “ Due to work commitments, I’ve only been able to slip out to my local ponds for a few evening hours. But my “paddleboard popper-dropper” fishing has been very good as I toss my combo against the bank. Big bream are still shallow and hungry. I had a nice surprise with a bass double-header! Native azalea blooms just add to the beautiful background of a Georgia farm pond in the spring.”

Landon launched his yak and has been enjoying a Lanier “river buffet” of species including bream, spots, shoalies, and stripers. He said: “they’re eating! Water was warmer than the air. A bunch of bass half-heartedly chased my streamers. All caught on a chartreuse/white Cowen’s coyote. Still fun! Slow and deep for shoal bass while floating.
Got the striper quartering downstream in a shallow riffle on the other side of a deep, fast run. The fish came up and swiped/ missed on my first cast over him. I got him on the next cast by burning it (fast retrieve ) and he hit it right at my feet!”

Henry’s update: “Fishing has taken a slight setback due to the multiple fronts that moved thru No GA this past week. It positively will affect what the stripers are doing. Last week they were up shallow in 1’-5’ of water and the fronts moved them back off the points and into deeper water. Once the weather settles down they will move back up for a short time til the next pattern takes over. The good news is that the long-awaited spotted bass spawn is now going on and these fish are totally committed to the bank. Now’s the time to take a 7 weight with either a floating or intermediate fly line and toss a Clouser, coyote, game changer, wiggle minnow or even a topwater fly for the first 3 hours of the morning and have a ball with a world-class spotted bass bite. Want to catch a world record? 4lb tippet and a 4lb spotted bass gets you an IGFA world record! Dock lights are also on fire right now for those wanting an easier bite on Lanier. This all should be happening on many No GA lakes around Atlanta. Go out and try to get a sore thumb from all the catch and releases that will happen over the next 2 weeks!”
So work on Saturday and save that day off for Monday or Tuesday. Appreciate the rainy stream recharge for our streams, and stock up on stimulators, caddis, cahills, and SQUIRMIES! Contact either of our stores if we can put you on more Awesome April fish.

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