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.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Your Natural Meter

This week’s rainy forecast spawned today’s UO fishing tip: use your personal turbidity meter! 

Turbidity is a measure of water clarity. Clarity dictates the species we aim for and the techniques we employ. While scientists use fancy meters, we can simply look down upon our natural meters: our submerged toes!  How many feet of visibility do you see?  Then adjust your own techniques to enhance your success!

In blood-red flows, with visibility less than a foot, it’s hard for fish to see anything. Cast big, dark flies on heavy tippet into soft shallows for a small shot at river stripers and trophy stream trout.

With vis at 2-3 feet, you have a great shot!  Again, toss big and dark or very bright streamers for river bass and stripers. For trophy trout, try big, dark buggers and leeches, big rubberleg stonefly nymphs, or bright pink San Juan worms. This is trophy time!!!

As streams clear and vis jumps to 3-4 feet, get more subtle and use more natural flies. For example, I’d look down at my shoes after a few hours at Smithgall and see that had Dukes already cleared a bit. I’d switch my San Juan from hot pink to shell (soft) pink and restore my catch rate. As the stream cleared further, I’d change to a small leech and then small hares ears and pheasant tails on thinner tippet to stay in the game.

So let your toes be your turbidity meters as welcome summer rains recharge area streams.  Judge a fish’s ability to see its forage and use the right bugs to match the water clarity. And, if the stream has some stain to it, remember a big net and a friend with a camera!

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