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, July 3, 2021

UO Fishing Report - 7/3/21

Welcome to the UO holiday fishing report. Here’s a reminder that our Helen shop will be open tomorrow, July 4th, from 8AM to 1PM.

Our holiday theme is “hunt cold water.” Thursday night’s two inches of rain passed through our headwater creeks yesterday and our larger trout waters today. The Hooch in Helen was only slightly stained and running at low summer base flow this morning (3rd).

USGS Current Conditions for USGS 02330450 CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER AT HELEN, GA

Down in bass waters, the Hooch at Highway 115 was still pushing the muddy slug through, with visibility of only about two feet, on my way home this morning.


Your best bets this week should focus on the coolest waters for trout : bluelines for wild fish, higher headwaters for stockers (GAWRD had a long stocking list to serve holiday crowds), anywhere if a sudden storm cools and stains streams, and the two icy trout tailwaters. Aim for the mornings to find the coldest water of the day.

Local ponds and lakes are good in the cool morning air for bass and bream. These last two species will also feed in warmer water, so the shadows at dusk are a good bet, too. Just avoid the sun, like they do. Give our bigger bass rivers (Hooch, Chestatee, Etowah, etc) another day or two to shed Thursday’s muddy rainwater to ensure higher success on your river floats. Stain is still good for stripers, however, so don’t shy away from turbidity too quickly.

Wes’ hot fly list and our UO staff and friends’ fishing reports follow on our Facebook page and at blog.angler.management.

Have a happy and safe holiday. Be careful if boating, given the huge holiday crowds.

Wes Hot Fly List:

Summer conditions are consistent, so the fly list is the same as last week’s selection.

Dries: Juan’s hopper, Quick-site beetle, Parachute ant, Yellow humpy, Stoneflopper, tan elk hair caddis.

Nymphs: Squirminator, Jigged prince, Green weenie,Frenchie, Bird turd

Streamers & warmwater: Headcase crayfish, May’s identity crisis, Bank robber sculpin, Stealth jig, Feather changer, BoogleBug 


Landon and Accomplice hit a blueline high above Helen one afternoon this week. Alas, the catching was slow on a caddis dry/prince dropper combo in the low, clear water. Fish were definitely in afternoon fright mode, and Landon suggested that mornings would fish better.

In contrast, UO young gun Atticus hit some north slope headwaters this week and had some good times, scoring the hat trick on little wild bows, browns, and specks on his caddis and stimmy dries.  Best fish was a 12-inch brown hooked and uncapped on his start up the creek, and hooked and fondled on his way back downhill several hours later.

Stocker streams:

These will fish well before lunch and if you beat the holiday crowds. Check out WRD’s long holiday stocking list. Remember that they’ll drive stockings farther upstream to avoid water temps over 70F and give you good shots at the stockers.  Hint: hit the smaller, lesser-known streams early.

Trout Fishing | Department Of Natural Resources Division

UO guide Hunter reports:

“We fished a few public water creeks around Helen yesterday. The key was finding places that had been recently stocked, if you don’t have luck keep moving till you find the fish. Once you find them, small streamers like wooly buggers or dry droppers in the shallow pools with legs, eggs, and worms beneath are the ticket. Water is basically back to normal after that Thursday night rain.”

Private Waters:

They fished well as we wrapped up our spring season on them. Enjoy new UO staffer/guide Israel’s video of the release of a nice Nacoochee Bend bow. 

 Mornings fished well on dry/dropper combos with light tippet, and the bite shut down  by 10 or 11.  As river temps now approach or exceed 70F, we’ll not fish for these trout until cool temps return in the fall.

We still offer guided trips to our USFS-permitted sites in the national forest. If you want to learn trouting basics or chase wild fish, give us a call and line up a guide.

We also offer unguided river striper trips in Helen. Fifty bucks will reserve you two hours at dawn or dusk to chase these fish with your eight-weights  and trout-colored streamers while the shadows are on the river. Call the fly shop for details and reservations. If you hit it at first or last light, or in a muddy stormflow, you’ll have a great shot at a couple 5-10 pound, striped submarines.


Landon:  “No photos but I fished the Hooch TW at XX. Bridge Tuesday after the am storms. Pick was good on a hares ear jig with a black zebra midge, both under a dry. I caught 4:1 on the midge vs hares ear.”

RonW:  “The fellas and I fished Buford Dam again last Saturday 6/26.  It was a slow day for us all. Moe landed 2 rainbows right out of the gate on a dry. Kurt got one or two as well on the dry. I had  nothing but a single  splash and then it  went dry for several hours. We tried nearly everything in the box with not so much as a tap.  The switch turned on around 1pm with them slamming midges. Still nothing for me until the last 30 minutes when I finally landed a feisty rainbow on the dry part of my dry dropper rig around 2pm.

I bailed after that and headed home to perform my domestic duties with a smile on my face. I bet Mr. Heron cleaned up behind me.”


River bassing has been good when they’ve been clear enough for residents to spot our bugs and streamers. 

Dredger went north of the border last weekend and had a decent dusk for smallies on his stealth bomber. Biggest was only 11 inches, but they were all on top and a fun change of flavor.

UO-Helen manager Wes weighed in:

 “Between guided trips and an afternoon of personal fishing, I have been able to get after river bass a few times in the last couple of weeks. The name of the game is adapting your tactics based on water conditions and how the fish respond. The topwater action has been good in lower flows when the water has good clarity. UO sales associate Joseph Clark got this 19.5” fish on a stealth bomber recently.

In dingy water, baitfish fly patterns or spinnerbaits seem to do the trick. Don't be afraid to dredge as well. On a recent guide trip, we caught a few on top early before the bite dried up. We were able to find a few more bites and some larger fish by swimming a crawfish fly near the bottom.”

UO buddy RodneyT, director of the North Paulding High School Flyfishing club, is once again on the hunt for his GA Bass Slam. He knocked off a few species and shared pics of pretty Bartrams and Chattahoochee bass.

Where? I don’t believe he said!

Slam info here:


Athens Jay reported on his mid-GA trek, and backed it up with a pic of a Shoalie with wide shoulders:

“There are still fish in Piedmont rivers that will eat a fly, especially a black fly.”

Ed note: he showed me a big, black bunny leech and a fat black stealth bomber.


MiniMe Splatek is refining his newfound bassing game. Soft plastics are scoring on their local “hood pond” and he landed a hefty lagemouth on a pumpkinseed crawfish pattern. Congrats Spencer!


HenryC is still finding some plump , Lanier spots while throwing topwater plugs, bugs, and streamers on midlake humps and along breakwaters, especially in the mornings.  Jimmy and I tried it yesterday afternoon. Alas, we got skunked! It was still a nice boat ride, and we got off the water before the holiday crowds packed it too badly.  Hey, that why it’s called “fishing.”

Henry Cowen


Wes had a great fish story! Enjoy his South Georgia getaway:

“I headed down to “The Swamp” with my buddies Jackson and Brandon to target Bowfin, better known locally as mudfish.

We had a blast catching these hard fighting natives. You know when a bowfin hits your fly because they slam it hard! Cypress trees covered in Spanish moss, prairies of lily pads and flowers, and countless birds and alligators made for a very scenic trip. In two days of fishing, we probably landed around 40 fish and disconnected with another 20 or so. We also had some cool by-catches including Chain pickerel, Florida gar, and a few large warmouth. “

There you go, everything but the fireworks. Enjoy your holiday time, hopefully wet-wading or floating somewhere cool and shady. Contact either of our UO stores if you’d like a cheerleader to celebrate your angling independence.

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