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 19, 2021

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 8/19/21

This week’s theme is “Recession,” as we all wait for streams to recede from Fred’s overabundant rainfall. Your best bets, or really your only bets, will be very high or very low:  small headwater streams and impoundments. Even with the predicted afternoon storms for the next few days , bluelines have small watersheds and typically shed their high flows very quickly - within a day or so. 

Flat water- ponds, lakes, and reservoirs- is your second option. Beware of washed-in debris such as logs, which are boating safety concerns. Find the “mud lines” where blood-red stormflows mix with clear lake water. Those zones of stained water are hotspots, where food and cooler water wash in, the lower clarity gives predators a sense of safety, and the stain hides you while disguising your flies and lures.

As stormflows recede, be ready for some “stream rearrangements.”  Old pools might disappear and new ones will show up. Same goes for logjams. You might enjoy fishing a “new” stream or two after these major flood events. 

In terms of future trout, these floods really loosen up stream gravels and flush fine sediments from them. That’s good news for romantic specks and browns this fall and the rainbows next spring. Clean gravel is vital to mountain trout reproductive success here in Georgia.

We do have some good pre-flood reports from local waters and some nice intel from friendly western trekkers. Wes’ hot fly list and some recent angler reports follow on our Facebook page and at blog.angler.management. Enjoy the weekend while being careful in post-storm flows.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

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

Nymphs: brown pats rubberlegs, San Juan and squirmy worms, tan mop, sexy Walt’s worm, flashback pheasant tail, mini leech, prince nymph, Green weenie, and black fur ant when waters clear.

Streamers & warmwater:

Black woolly bugger, chartreuse-over-white Clouser,  Kreelex,sweet baby cray, polar changer, Mr Wiggly, CK baitfish.


We had no recent reports. The key here will be to high-stick the flood refuges while flows are higher. Boost your dry fly a size or two (12’s and 14’s) to give residents enough reason to rise. Scale back down to smaller size 16’s or so once the waters recede and clear and those wild fish resume their summer nervousness.

Wash-Down Stockers:

Watch the Friday GAWRD stocking list. Look at last Friday’s list and head to downstream flood refuges (pools, logjams, etc) to prospect for wash-downs from upper stocking sites. Then check streamflows tomorrow and Saturday to see if this week’s stockers will hold in place or get displaced to those downstream refuges, too.


Dredger waited for the sun to fall and then hit a Hooch shoal at 7pm last Friday.  He stuck with “dries” in hopes of some summer surface action in the low, clear water. The black stealth bomber was eaten twice. He switched to a white one as dusk creeped in at 8 and had one more bite before quitting at 8:30.  All three Shoalies bent his 6-weight rod and then took to the air, with one successfully shaking the hook. He fondled two up to 15 inches and called it a successful trip.

Athens Jay said he had a really good shoalie float on a middle GA river prior to the storm. Fish enjoyed his big streamer concoctions that we’ve featured in past weekly reports. His pics backed up his prose.


We had no recent reports, but Dredger recently drove past Lake Zwerner in Dahlonega. 

Lake Zwerner and Yahoola Creek Reservoir – City of Dahlonega


Keep this 150-acre water supply reservoir, just north of Wal Mart, in mind if you’re a (non-motorized) yak or canoe-fishing fan within driving distance of Dahlonega. It’s good for bass and bream. Try the deeper, cooler water by following the Yahoola Creek channel. It enters from the west and flows under the highway bridge.  Enjoy the pics.


We had two great reports from UO contacts venturing to the Yellowstone region.  UO guide Palmer just returned from a fun, albeit smoky trip that included some beautiful bows from the Henry’s Fork and some colorful cutts from the Yellowstone River.

A trio of UO buddies are currently “camped” in the West Yellowstone area and making day trips to their favorite streams inside and outside the park. Ringleader sent me two reports and some nice pics in the last 48 hours to support his alleged successes. He said:

“Hoot Owl restrictions have all anglers off the water at 2PM every afternoon in the Park but the rivers are in good shape. The Gallatin was 50 degrees Monday. Today restrictions on the Madison outside the Park have been lifted. Hopper fishing has been good. The Gibbon and Soda Butte have been great.  Lots of smoke from fires to the west but the air quality has been better than expected.”

“Its 46 degrees and raining on Soda Butte this morning (18th). Yep, we’re sick people.  But we’re happy and the fish are beautiful!

I actually stayed out for about 30 minutes and then went back to the car and turned the heater on. The rain slacked up a couple of hours later so I went back out and caught a couple cutts before the 2:00 closing.”

We’re glad that Fred spared our Helen shop, so we’re still around to serve you.  Check USGS river gauges, call local tackle shops, and then plot a safe course to this weekend’s fishable waters. Remember to throttle down and be on the lookout for floating logs in lake headwaters. 

Use the stained waters to your advantage to sneak up on your quarry. Call or come by either UO store if we can help direct you toward fishable waters. Good luck!

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