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, July 30, 2021

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 7/30/21

Summer sulking” is the best way to describe our current conditions. The crummy combo of heat, humidity, lack of rain, and maybe some western smoke has most regional action, from human to piscine, real slow right now.  We need a good storm front to blow through, drop some rain, and flush this stagnant air out of here. Grab a big straw hat and some swim trunks. When the action slows during your wade or float, take a swim.

For die-hands, there are still some decent angling opportunities if you know when and where to go. And that why UO is here for y’all!

Best bets will be blueline wild trout, stocker streams in the mornings for this week’s DNR/USFWS gifts of brook trout, river bass in low light, and pond bream.  

One note: low, clear, and warm may not be great conditions for many species, but it’s a fun combo for stalking big, wary river bass. It’s almost like trying to outwit trophy brown trout.  Lighten your leaders, dead-drift your leggy foam bugs through the bankside shade, and be patient as a big bass hovers under your stealth bomber for 5-10 feet of drift before deciding whether to inhale or refuse it.

Low rivers also allow us to wade to better spots, where bass are packed into their summer refuges. It’s a good time to knock out some species for your Georgia bass slam. 

Wes’ hot fly list and angler reports and tips follow on our long version of this report on our Facebook page and at blog.angler.management. We had fewer reports this week as some folks were on vacation and others simply sidelined themselves til stream conditions improved. 

Wes’ hot fly list:

Last week’s list worked well, so we are rerunning it.

Dries: Quick-site beetle, 409 Yeager yellow, Parachute black ant, yellow sally, parachute Adams.

Nymphs: Drowned ant, Soft hackle partridge yellow, micro mayfly, Green weenie, Yellow sally nymph, Copper John, Green mop, girdle bug, Yellerhammer.

Streamers & warmwater:

Black wooly bugger, hairy fodder, , Triple double rainbow, Clouser minnow, Finesse changer, poppers with rubber legs, stealth bomber


Wes had a trip this morning (30th) to a nearby WMA. His client used a dry/dropper combo of a small chubby and yellerhammer to land a mixed bag of wild bows, a stocker bow, and a couple of fresh stocker brookies.

Longtime UO friend Bama Vic hadn’t trout fished since last spring and was suffering withdrawal symptoms. He contacted us first for intel and then came up for a mountain weekend. Here’s his debriefing:  “ Giving my UO friends a post-trip report as promised.

The Luftee fished pretty well Saturday morning with good consistent action on small bows and some decent browns. Best flies were a beadhead soft hackle PT dropped off a yellow body Hippie Stomper. The bigger fish took the hippie, go figure, including a couple of decent browns in the 10-11 inch range and a nice rainbow with one of the brightest red stripes I've seen on one in a while. Beautiful wild fish. Water temps in the low 60s at 9:00.

Fishing turned off in the afternoon like you said it would. One of the problems with fishing the Luftee on a Saturday in July is you have to go through Cherokee on a Saturday in July. Wow, that place never ceases to amaze. I dealt with it by telling myself the fishing wasn't going to be good anywhere at 2:00 in the afternoon, so that took out some of the sting of the crowds. Still amazing to see it all. Killed some time by driving over to the trophy section of the Raven Fork to see if I could see any big fish from the bridge across from the school. There were two hogs sitting just below, but of course the river was full of tubers and tons of fishermen upstream. Had a conversation with the father of Michael Bradley, the competitive fly fisherman from Cherokee, who had just dropped off some tubers. 

Made it through the Cherokee jungle and headed to the Nan DH. Started off slow, but around 5:30-6:00 it turned on and it really turned on. Fished that long flat stretch where I have run into you before. Started with a big stimulator and the beadhead PT, but took one nice bow on the stimi, then a brown and then another bow. They were long slow takes, kinda like cutthroats in Yellowstone, with slow rises to the fly and then a hookup. Great to watch it all happen! Took off the dropper and consistently caught fish for the next 2 hours, mix of wild and decent size holdovers. Great fun. I was surprised there were as many nice bows and browns still in that stretch, but they were there and hungry. Also caught some decent brookies. Some, not all, were pretty lethargic on the fight though so you know they are hurting. Just a great summer night of fly fishing, especially for July, all on dries. Best of all, nobody else was around fishing.

Sunday I headed over to Fires Creek DH to see if there was anything left in there. There were, including a couple of brutes. Stuck one of those huge rainbows for about a second and a half, but that was it for him. Caught several brookies and rainbows, mostly on a sparkle soft hackle and yellow bodied micro chubby. Again, nobody was fishing so I had the upper stretch of the DH, at least, all to myself. Am certainly not complaining. Perfect summer morning of trout fishing. Water was crystal clear, low 60s, and incredibly beautiful. 

Great weekend. Thanks again for the tips. Not sure when I'll be back, but hopefully soon if things keep going well.”


As mentioned before, GAWRD cuts back on stocking after July 4, but the streams still stocked provide nice late-season opportunities. Check those Friday WRD stocking lists! Note today’s WRD blog that even says there are brookie treats for you this week. Try a short fly rod and a woolly bugger and get your daughter or son on their first fly-caught trout. Aim for the cooler mornings.


And have a plan B (ultralight spincast rod and worms) in case the fly fishing is slow.

Splatek: You’d  be proud of Spencer and me today. We hit a favorite spot loaded with rainbow trout. There was a family there taking a dip in the creek. The dad -of five little ones- was looking interested. I finally stick up a conversation with him. Turns out he was a Florida surf angler. Never fly fished. 

I gave him a 2 minute stream side lesson and in a dozen casts he has caught his first ever fresh water trout. 

Smile as big as Spencer’s!! 

Gotta pass it on.

I reckon next time his family takes a family vacation to the north Georgia mountains he’ll be carrying a small fly rod.”

Ed note: you two get two gold stars from UO!


They are low, slow, and lazy. So are the fish in them!


“I waded a Hooch shoal early one morning this week.  I caught a couple shoalies on a hairy fodder early.  I was hardheaded and stuck to a popper for the rest of morning. It was pretty slow, with only 4 to hand over a couple hours. Saw a timber rattler, when getting out late am, down under a rock ledge by the trail. It’s time to watch where we step as everything is searching for some cooler spots.”


“ Our duo aimed for Chattahoochee shoal bass yesterday evening (28th) . We landed 5 shoalies up to 14". None on top as all fish seemed to be hunkered down in the warm water. Hairy fodder worked best for me, with 2 fish landed and one lost. My buddy landed 3 on a blue/black stealth bomber. “

Wes had a midweek float trip and said the bass action was slow. They started early and caught some fish on top and on some minnow patterns. The bite died by noon.

We had no striper reports. Those fish are typically very lazy and very discerning in low, clear, warm water. They have too much time to inspect and refuse our streamers. We need some rain to increase the stain and current velocity.

Small Lakes:

No reports, as our pond fans were away on vacation. They’ll still fish well at dawn and dusk on leggy terrestrial patterns “plopped” under the overhanging tree limbs.


No reports, as most predators have gone deep or way upriver in search of cooler water. The attached pic is a nice one of Kathy hooked up to a chunky Lanier spot several weeks ago, when the topwater bite still existed.

That’s the latest from here: slim pickings. But we will always shoot straight with you so you know what to expect when you hit north GA waters. And fishing still beats work or lawn care, even when the catching is a bit thin. Good luck and may the shade be with you, somewhere! Call or visit either UO store for flies, supplies, and dose of hope.

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