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 5, 2021

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 8/5/21

This week’s intel is best summarized as “heat respite,” as recent clouds and showers dropped most of our daily highs from the intolerable 90’s to the acceptable mid-80’s. And the fish responded to cooler water temps and a few flow bumps with slightly better appetites. It looks like we have a few more cooler days ahead before returning to really hot weather, so take advantage of them if you can.

Best bets remain the same: headwater trout before lunch, stockers in high elevation streams with recent GAWRD truck visits, river bass during the first or last two hours of daylight, river stripers after a storm, and pond bass and bream in the shade and shadows. Or take a trip to Belize!  As in winter, this is the season for brief trips instead of marathon adventures. But those 2-3 hours of prime-time flyrodding will net you some fish and put a smile back on your face for your return to reality.

For resident salmonids, skip the skinny stuff and high-grade the honey holes.

Depth and/or overhead cover (ex: wood, roots, turbulence, and rock ledges) are your keys to morning blueline success! 

River bassing is better. Fish have been finicky and subsurface offerings have been outperforming topwater bugs. Bring your wiggly crayfish patterns, clousers, and articulated streamers along with your Boogle Bug poppers and Kent’s stealth bombers.  You can then cover the entire water column, from bottom to top.

Wes’ hot fly list and angler reports, tips, and extra pics follow on the long version of this report at our Facebook page and at blog.angler.management.

Wes’ hot fly list:

Dries: Quick-site beetle, 409 Yeager yellow, Parachute Adam’s, stoneflopper, royal trude, bear’s hi-viz roberts.

Nymphs: Drowned ant, wired caddis nymph, hare & copper, Green weenie, little yellow sloan, lightning bug, Slush egg.

Streamers & warmwater:

Sparkle minnow light olive, sweet baby cray, , Finnese changer, Mr Wiggly, stealth bomber, transformer.


Cooler weather turned on local headwater residents. Aim for our highest elevation streams here and also north of the border.  Also note that north slope streams fish better in summer than their south slope counterparts, which catch more daily rays, so head toward the better, “summer” side of each mountain.  (During winter, hit the opposite, warmer side.)

Israel, in our Helen store, said a customer did well earlier this week  on the upper Hooch with a green weenie. Another secretive shop customer said he did well this morning on “blueline wild trout on dries” - and that was the limit of his shared intel.

Dredger waited for the weather break and then hit a small creek north of Helen on the first cooler morning. He tossed a real small chubby Chernobyl  on a short, 4x leader and had a big time on small but colorful and spunky wild bows to 7 inches. One upstream migrant, a fat 9-inch stocker brookie, was an unexpected surprise and an added treat. 

His said his final tally was “trout = trees.”  On these tight headwaters, we all snag limbs about every 3-6 casts and accept those unintended “catches” as part of our blueline game. We reduce our tree count by using short leaders and abundant roll casts (instead of backcasts) whenever possible inside these tight rhododendron tunnels.

With better than a dozen fish to hand, and an even higher number missed, Dredger had a great morning of topwater action before quitting at noon. 

For anyone who enjoys light rods and rising fish, summer’s a fun time for dry fly fans. The abundant rises make up for slight fish size. And a 9-inch “native” sure feels like a trophy in these tiny creeks!

PS: Dredger said not to forget your chamois and dessicant, like he did. Ride your dry very high through the drought refuges of pools and logjams, and you’ll be rewarded. 


Folks really enjoyed the stocked brookies last week from WRD and USFWS.  There should be some of those fish left for prospectors willing to cover more instream distance.  Spring stockers will now be scarce, so tune in to the newest Friday WRD stocking report for your best chance at late-season stocker success. Remember to aim for cooler water for the most cooperative fish. A stream thermometer (about fifteeen bucks) is a gotta-have now and once again in the dead of winter, so buy and use one to enhance your catch.

As mentioned in a prior report, GAWRD cuts back on stocking after July 4, but the streams stocked now still provide nice late-season opportunities. Sign up at the agency website for those Friday WRD stocking lists, delivered to you via text or email! 


The bite picked up a bit, but so did the storms, so check river gauges and fly shops for water clarity before you go. Subsurface is outfishing topwater right now.

Athens Jay: 

“Spent a very hot summer day exploring a magnificent Georgia Piedmont stream.  It is amazing to see what a forested watershed means to aquatic health. Overhanging riparian trees, rocky substrate and clear water make for great fishing opportunities. Two anglers brought well over 35 fish to hand and there certainly were some big surprises. The go-to fly continues to be what we now call the “Blurple” (photo attached).

Piedmont River Report: This week brought some nice weather, including a little relief from the heat. River bass appeared to enjoy the change and it was a glorious time for wet wading. Topwater bite has been only fair, but casting big dark streamers upstream and allowing them to drift past fish lurking in deep runs has really payed off. My personal preference is something we call the “Blurple” - an articulated streamer with large dumbell eyes on a wide-gap jig hook in front. I tie it with black rabbit dubbing loops, purple marabou and a little bit of flash. I recently started using a stinger hook in the tail section which reduces the short-strike bites. Target rocky substrate and expect to catch multiple species of predators, including our resident habitat specialists.”

Our Helen staff had no recent striper reports. Folks missed a great chance at Nacoochee Bend this week after Tuesday afternoon’s storm dropped an inch of rain on the Hooch and colored it up (pic). Watch the Helen long-term forecast and book a Bend trip for the morning after the likely storm. Be sure to have at least 20 pound tippet to your streamer to ensure your trophy pose!


Landon: “Slow morning til we found the right spot! It wasn’t quite as good as a couple weeks ago, but still pretty good on spots, hybrids, and small stripers.  We used a Keitech on a jig head when they were deep, and burned a fluke through them when they were shallow and schooling.”

UO buddy Darren escaped to Belize for 4 days of fishing at Garbutt’s fishing lodge in Punta Gorda.

He had a big time on bones, permit, and tarpon!  He also had shots at some BIG permit and tarpon, but didn’t connect. He vowed a return.  He just rubbed salt into the wounds of his stateside friends with pics, so we’ll share our pain with y’all.

That’s the latest news from our UO staff and friends,  near and far.  We’re going to try producing our weekly reports a day earlier (Thursdays) to help your weekend planning. Please let us know if you like this change.  

Call or visit our Helen (706-878-3083) or our Clarkesville store (706-754-0203) if we can help you survive and thrive in these dog days of summer.  And remember your dessicant! 

August 6:

Here’s a nice addendum to this week’s fishing report, courtesy of HenryC!


Carp fishing is still pretty good when conditions allow you to get on the flats. This is the time of year when the flats get warmer and the fish are just more leery from folks using the river and pressuring their feeding places. 

On another note, Lanier spotted bass fishing is still producing nicely but it positively has gotten tougher on flyrodders as fish are on the brush over humps. 

On smaller private lakes in No GA the largemouth fishing has been excellent. We went out on one and, between two of us, we were able to feed over 2 dozen largemouth bass on small poppers. Fish varied in size from 1 to 3+ lbs. We had a great topwater trip!

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