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.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 8/12/21


For this week, think “storms.”  Recent pop-up thunderstorms have been localized, abundant,  and intense. One watershed might be blown out for a day, while a nearby stream on the other side of the ridge might remain low and clear. It all depends on where these storms track.

We also have a storm brewing in the Gulf and possibly headed our way. That radar track is worth watching for stream conditions early next week.

Muddy storm surges are bad for dry fly action, good for stockers, bad for river bassing, and good for striper hunting. Pack a raincoat and have a plan of whether you will head toward or away from the storm surges. 

Regardless, we’re thankful for the north GA storms as they recharge our rainforest, reduce forest fire danger, briefly boost streamflows, and drop air and water temps.

Wes’ hot fly list and a nice bunch of fresh angler reports follow on our Facebook page and at blog.angler.management.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: Quick-site beetle, hard body ant, micro chubby, yellow humpy, parachute Adams, elk hair caddis.

Nymphs: pyscho prince, flashback pheasant tail, mini leech, Green weenie, improved yallarhammer.

Streamers & warmwater:

Kreelex,sweet baby cray, polar changer, Mr Wiggly, CK baitfish.


High-elevation wild trout continue their cooperative ways.  Stealthy stalkers who can drift a high-floating dry, drag-free, through the small pools and runs are having lots of fun. Here are some fresh reports.

Sautee and an accomplice leap-frogged up a Hooch trib last Friday and did well on small wild rainbows crammed into the deepest water available. Sautee tossed his trusty yellow elk hair caddis (#16 early and a #14 as the shadows fell) and accomplice tossed a #14 chubby Chernobyl. They traded pools each time an angler caught a fish. A good stalk and good drift were their keys to catches.

Dredger took an afternoon road trip to Cherokee last weekend and hit some park headwaters. He stuck with a dry and tested his homemade chubby patterns (#14).  Both the peacock body/brown foam and the all-tan versions got lots of looks. Refusals outnumbered takes by about 5:1, but enough small bows and browns came to hand to call it a good day. His quick strikes, like he was fishing a small caddis, resulted in a string of early misses. He learned the hard way to hesitate for a count of one to give fish enough time to eat the small hopper pattern, then set the hook.  Think “western cutthroat” and your slower strikes might net you more fish on these small foam bugs. The elk harems have formed and Dredger even heard a bugle or two as he SLOWLY exited the park at dark. After all, elk and front bumpers don’t mix well.

UO buddy RonW returned to action and shared this report:

“Today was a another fantastic day for the Trio and  our buddy Steve chasing specks on a GA blueline.  We fished a new section of this  stream that none of us have explored before. The elevation was around  2600' - 2800' with water temps around 60° and air temps that never got hotter than 72-73, I'm guessing. We fished a little over 3/4 mile of stream, starting around 9am and exiting (retreating)  around 3pm.  It seemed like we couldn't go more than 20' without have to climb under/over a log or  tunneling thru the rhododendron. 

 I can unequivocally say that the juice was definitely worth the squeeze today.  

We landed 6-7 fish each and hooked several more, all brookies except for 1 very lost and adventurous rainbow. I started the day  with a Ausable Wulff and after  2 fish, I changed over to a Coachman and never tied on another fly all day.  The weather was great, the company was better and the fishing was downright awesome! “

Longtime UO buddy David Cannon survived brown bear photo-shoots long enough to return home and introduce his dad to blueline bows on fluffy dries. They had a big time on a small, north-slope stream. I don’t believe he said it’s name…

Check out David’s Instagram account, davidcannonphotography, for his latest round of great pics from afar. We’re glad those bruins prefer salmon over a thin, chewy Georgian.

Dredger ran out after Tuesday’s storm and prospected some Hooch headwaters in the cooler air.   Stream #1, to the west, was Yoo-hoo, so he kept driving to Stream #2, just to the east. It was clear, as the storm missed it.  Trout were cooperative in the few pools between long, skinny, fishless riffles. One hefty stocker and a nice handful of wild bows (6-8 inches) approved his homemade chubbies. Gnats were bad and he was thankful for his bug repellent- and also his dessicant, which he remembered this time!


Watch the Friday GAWRD stocking list. Late-summer best bets usually include Holcomb, Tallulah, Dicks, Rock, and upper Cooper. Aim for cold water and low light in the morning. Scale down to 4 pound test, small hooks (#10 or 12) and smaller baits and flies to pick off summer’s picky fish.


UO staffer Israel:  “River bassin’ for Chatts and Bartrams has been good early morning and in the evening, with a few bonus sunfish tossed in the mix. I’ve  had good success on a bass popper. Plop it on the water, give a quick twitch, and then let it sit. Tossing the popper into the shade and close to wood produced for me. Crawfish patterns and the critter-mite also worked well on the bottom when the surface action stopped.”

UO Helen manager Wes:

“I had a canceled guide trip earlier in the week so Jackson and I hit the water ourselves. 

The bass were very scattered but we were able to get some on top with stealth bombers as well as a few larger fish on a large 6” game changer. We also were able to catch a handful of carp feeding in a shallow flat.”

UO friend Athens Jay:  “Piedmont rivers continue to fish well for shoalies, especially late in the day when the sun dips below the tree line. Use big, weighted streamers in dark colors fished on a long fluorocarbon leader. Cast upstream and try to get a natural “crawfish” drift by giving an occasional twitch. A better option lately has been to use a clear,  sink-tip line and a short 3’-4’ fluorocarbon leader. This helps with your casting and gives you closer contact with your fly.”

UO owner Jimmy:

“After spending the day sightseeing Richard Russell Scenic Hwy. and Brasstown Bald with our niece Madelyn from Tx, we ended up back at Nacoochee Bend about an hour before sundown. The river was running clear and low but we decided to try for stripers before dark.  Our topwater offerings produced a half dozen aggressive follows but no takers.  (The same results other anglers had been experiencing.) A change in tactics brought a change in luck. A 6" baitfish imitation worked upstream, beneath the roughest water we could find,  resulted in Madelyn's first Striper and bragging rights for biggest fish among her cousins in Austin!”

UO buddy Landon: “We hit an Etowah trib on Sunday. Bass were in their usual bankside pockets. Our best rig was a dry/dropper combo of a small popper and woolly bugger trailer. Our best method was one good pop when it hit the water, and then dead drifting for a good while.”


UO staffer Israel:

“Tallulah was blown out this morning so I hit the lake in the state park.  Very little was interested in topwater bugs. A semi seal leech (black n red) was the ticket. A 6-inch strip and 3-second pause drew enthusiastic strikes near wood.  I probably caught a dozen bream and a bonus perch in an hour of fishing before opening our Clarkesville store.”

Check the forecast, remember your raincoat and repellent, and hang in the car til the lightning passes. Then aim toward or away from storm surges, per your plan.  Call or visit our Helen (706-878-3083) or our Clarkesville store (706-754-0203) if we can help you plot your course through this week’s likely clouds. Good luck from our UO gang!

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