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.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 9/17/21

The cloudy, rainy weather this week bodes well for our angling plans.  Area streams received less than an inch of rain so far, and it fell softly throughout the past two days. That’s great, as the lack of pounding raindrops and ripping runoff through road gullies prevented much soil erosion and stream discoloration.  The low light of cloudy days also gives sportfish some cover from predators, and they’re more eager to feed than to duck for cover, as they must do on bright days to survive.

Most streams have already dropped back to normal flow and are very clear. For example, the Hooch at Highway 115 had a good four feet of visibility this morning. 

Clear water, cooler water, and cloudy weather should give everyone some great shots at headwater trout, river bass and bream, and pond residents. 

Those are our best bets again this week.  Angler intel, Wes’ hot fly list, and North Carolina Delayed Harvest Program news follows on our Facebook page and blog.angler.management. 

Good luck in the cooler weather and low light on our horizon.  October is just around the corner, and this cooling trend should bring some of our larger trout streams back to life for some great fall action. Feel free to call or stop by either of our UO stores for supplies and advice.

Wes’ Hot Fly List

Dries: chubby Chernobyl, elk hair caddis, trude lime.

Nymphs: girdle bug, soft hackle hares ear, depth charge caddis, psycho prince.

Streamers & warmwater:

Wooly bugger, muddy buddy, mini dragon tail, polar changer, headcase crayfish. BoogleBugs.


Two local speckulators checked in this week. UO friends Sautee and Tweed took separate headwater hikes and found cooperative locals. The specks had a taste for small, fluffy dries, presented upstream after careful stalks.

North Carolina Delayed Harvest - Good News

Our good friend, NCWRC fisheries biologist Jake Rash, passed along their agency’s fresh press release:

Delayed Harvest Trout Waters Open October 1


RALEIGH, N.C. (Sept. 16, 2021) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will implement Delayed Harvest Trout Waters regulations on 36 trout waters on Oct. 1. Under Delayed Harvest Trout Waters regulations, no trout can be harvested or possessed from these waters between Oct. 1 and one half-hour after sunset on June 3, 2022. No natural bait may be possessed, and anglers can fish only with artificial lures with one single hook. An artificial lure is defined as a fishing lure that neither contains nor has been treated with any substance that attracts fish by the sense of taste or smell.


The Wildlife Commission stocks Delayed Harvest Trout Waters from fall through spring with high densities of trout to increase anglers’ chances of catching fish. Delayed Harvest Trout Waters, posted with diamond-shaped, black-and-white signs, are popular fishing destinations for anglers who enjoy catch-and-release trout fishing.


On Aug. 17, the Bobby N. Setzer State Fish Hatchery, which is the Commission’s largest trout hatchery, was severely impacted by flash flooding caused by Tropical Depression Fred.  Although the hatchery remains operational, approximately 67% of all trout at the hatchery were lost.  The agency is mitigating those losses by obtaining replacement trout from various sources.  Although Delayed Harvest stockings are slated to occur as planned this October, hatchery staff are still addressing impacts of the damage to the facility and future stockings could be disrupted. Flood-related impacts and any changes to trout stockings will be posted on the agency’s website at ncwildlife.org/TroutUpdate.


Some trout waters may be closed by local cooperators due to COVID-19. Visit the agency’s COVID-19 webpage for an updated list of trout waters that have been closed by local cooperators.


While fishing, anglers should consider these minimal steps to help prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species like gill licewhirling disease and didymo:

  • CLEAN equipment of all aquatic plants, animals and mud
  • DRAIN water from boats, live wells and equipment
  • DRY equipment thoroughly
  • NEVER MOVE fish, plants or other organisms from one body of water to another


Learn more about aquatic nuisance species by visiting the Commission’s Aquatic Nuisance Species webpage.


For a complete list of Delayed Harvest Trout Waters, information on regulations and trout fishing maps, visit the Commission’s trout fishing page.


About the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission 

Since 1947, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has been dedicated to the conservation and sustainability of the state’s fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use and public input. The Commission is the state regulatory agency responsible for the enforcement of fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws and provides programs and opportunities for wildlife-related educational, recreational and sporting activities.


Purchase or a renew a fishing, trapping and hunting license and renew a vessel registrationonline at ncwildlife.org


Get N.C. Wildlife Update — news including season dates, bag limits, legislative updates and more — delivered free to your Inbox from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.


UO Helen manager Wes:

“I had a good trip Monday river bassin with Harry and his wife.  Fish were eating at various levels of the water column and once we got it dialed in the bite was great. Topwater bugs and mid-column baitfish patterns produced the best results.”

Athens Jay had a successful river bassing trip, too. Big, dark streamers with lots of action produced the best for him.

Good luck this week. Pack a raincoat in case a shower finds you, and enjoy cooperative bass and trout under the cool, cloudy skies of late September.

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