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, June 4, 2021

UO Fishing Report - 6/4/21

It’s trouting “breakfast time” in northeast Georgia, as our streams are low, clear, and warming.
  For trout in larger streams, fish the mornings, while headwater trout in small, shaded streams will still play throughout the day.

Low and clear streams give us advantages and disadvantages.  On the positive side, fish are now packed into their summer niches of deeper pools, dark ledges, and shade under submerged logs and overhanging limbs. On the negative side, the fish are nervous about predators and you’d better bring your stealth A-game.

“Low and clear” is a good combo for river bass and stripers, so try another float or wade trip and aim for the shade. With clear rivers, bass and stripers will be good targets, especially in the low light of dawn and dusk and way back along shaded riverbanks. Bass are starting to look up, so take some poppers along with your streamers and crawdad patterns.

Pond temps are still good, and bass and bream will be hungry. So are lake predators if they’re lucky enough to find some bugs dropping from lakeside tree limbs.

Best bets are headwater trout, shady river bass, dawn river stripers, and dusk pond bream.

Enjoy our extended report , with Wes’ weekly hot fly list and our guide & UO buddy fishing reports, on our Facebook page and at 


Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: tan elk hair caddis, Deckers yellow sally, Yellow stimulator, Micro chubby Chernobyl, and parachutes in these patterns: adams, light cahill, black ant, and royal coachman.

Wets and nymphs: Yellow soft hackle, Yellow sally stone, Lightning bug, Frenchie, Girdle bug, black fur ant, small pheasant tail soft hackles and hares ear nymphs, brown and black WD40’s, green weenie or mop, and red squirmies and small olive buggers for leftover holiday stockers.

Streamers and warmwater:

Kreelex, Mini dungeon, Krystal bugger, #4 black woolly bugger,  hairy fodder, BoogleBug, Finesse changer, gray/white Clouser, Bugger changer.


Headwaters are low, but cool, and a great bet for sneaky anglers. Rabunites always say, “dress like a rhododendron bush and fish like a blue heron.” Follow their lead to higher catch rates. For wild fish, toss your favorite, high-floating dry (see our list) into those summer flood refuges.

For kids, try stockers!  Grab a short fly rod and leader and have them swing the smallest of woolly buggers through the pools and boulder fields of heavily stocked waters like Cooper, Rock, Dicks, and Tallulah. There should be leftovers from last week’s heavy holiday stockings by our GAWRD friends.   A downstream roll cast is fairly easy for kids to learn. Just have a zebco and Powerbait in the car trunk to save the day if the flyfishing is slow.

Bugger tips here:


UO’s newest sales associate, Joseph, got out to do some creek fishing this week.  He had lots of luck on a green mop for the stockers, while a chubby Chernobyl and soft hackle PT combo picked up the holdover and wild trout. 

Delayed Harvest (NC):

The release season ends today and harvest begins tomorrow in our neighbor state. There should still be a good number of survivors over the next week or two for anglers covering some ground to pick off dusk risers.

UO buddy Lumis and a friend  hit the Nan DH last weekend and had great luck, despite the holiday crowds. He dredged Euro nymphs (esp a Perdigons) and friend fished a dry. Both methods scored well.

Dredger wandered up there on Tuesday, after the weekender exodus and slipped into the creek at 6PM.  He had a “great last date” on the DH section via a double dry rig. 


The first niche, a deep & fast run, produced a 9” wild rainbow that crushed the stimmy and leaped two feet straight up before coming to the net.  Niche #2, a deep,slow boulder pocket, gave up a chunky brookie. Target #3, a slow flat in the bankside shade, hid a fat stocker brown that sipped his Adams dropper. 

 His hat trick was scored in only a dozen casts toward the first three “goals.” Good action continued til the yellow sallies went to bed at 8:45.

The aerial show was as entertaining as the aquatics. Midges and tiny mayfly spinners buzzed the surface as he slipped into the 63-degree water.  Soon sporadic chinook copters (aka # 10 brown stones)  motored slowly, at head-level, across the water. Thirty minutes later, big #12 brown drakes did their 4-foot vertical yo-yo’s as they danced and dropped eggs on the surface. The show was topped off with #16 yellow sallies fluttering and dipping eggs - and attracting risers.

Before the Sally show, rises were sporadic because the bugs were, too, at least on the water surface. But most fish were looking up for a meal in the skinny water,  and a well-placed dry usually got a look and often an eat.  The evening date was a great parting gift from NC’s DH program to this GA tourist.

Private Waters:

Bigger, private waters are fishing decently for early risers, but rising water temps that hit the mid-60’s, combined with bright sunshine, are making resident rainbows moody by noon.  Go early, use light tippets, soft Indi’s (a bushy dry or yarn) and stealth, and you’ll still have a morning of fun in the gin-clear waters as you “hunt” these fish.

Wes:  “With the combination of rising temps and falling water, there are two important factors for success on private water.   The first is to get out in the morning. We have noticed a substantial drop off in the fishes’ activity after about 11:30am. The second is to get a clean drift. With the clean water a drag free drift has been key.

Lightning bugs, squirmy worms, hares ears, and golden stonefly nymphs were the recent standouts.”


High elevation Smokies streams will continue to fish well. Beware the heavy weekend tourist traffic. If you can slip up on a weekday, it’s fairly smooth sailing. We’ll be heading that way soon as Georgia trouting slows with warming water, and when we want a different “flavor” from our local river bass and stripers, which are now heating up.


UO staffer Lee made a brief stop along an east-side river to prospect  for Bartrams bass. They weren’t interested in his menu until he found the secret weapon, then it was game on.

Instructions for tying the Triangle Bug — Panfish On The Fly

Athens Jay: “Piedmont rivers low and clear. The official State Native Riverine Sport Fish is looking up. “

Landon: “Yellow was the Chestatee color of choice this week.  Boulder fields with current got shoal bass, while wood in slower current gave up spots.”

Flat Water:

Wes: “ I got the opportunity to get on the Brood X cicada action over the last few weeks. I did a lot of research, made some calls, and scouted some water. Once you find the bugs they are very densely populated in the areas they emerge. Definitely an awesome experience for folks willing to put in the time on the web and the water.”

GAWRD provided another great report for us today. Note that it’s National Fishing and Boating Week. Check out the segments on trout stream temperature monitoring and shoal bass research.


Good luck this weekend. The water is down and so are the holiday crowds! Take advantage of both factors to wet-wade or float your favorite waters and “launch” your fishing summer. Contact either our Helen or Clarkesville store if we can help you prepare for your Huck Finn moments.  

PS: don’t forget your dry fly dessicant!

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