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, October 28, 2021

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 10/28/21

It’s cold and rainy outside today.   That will change our game, at least until it warms back up next week.  Topwater reports from earlier this week might not apply as well to newly chilled waters, but the dredging intel will be spot-on.  For now, go deep for trout in the colder water.  Deeper water, too? We’ll have to wait and count our rainfall totals tomorrow to see if it will be any deeper for your weekend. Right now we’ve gotten only 1/3 inch and streamflows have barely bumped.


Dry fly die-hards can still toss their preferred, floating bugs with some hope as long as the water is over 50F. Next week’s return of sunshine might help this bite a bit.

Lake bass and stripers are slowly stirring, but still very hit-and-miss. HenryC and his reservoir navy want more cold air to cool off Lanier and create a consistent surface bite.  

See his prediction, breaking WRD trout news,  and many other “hot” angler reports  in our long version on Facebook and at blog.angler.management.

Go as soon as the rain quits. If not for the catching, then definitely for the cool-weather casting and prime-time leaf looking!

Call or come by either UO store for your fall fishing intel and supplies. Good luck!

Unicoi Outfitters:




The Details:

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: Yellow or orange Stimulator, October (orange) elk hair caddis, tan chubby Chernobyl, tiny parachute Adams or Blue Wing Olives for flat water risers.

Nymphs: Walt's worm, girdle bug, lightning bug (silver), rainbow warrior, micro egg, hares ear, frenchie, pheasant tail.

Streamers & warmwater:

Sparkle minnow, triple double rainbow, clouser minnow, finnese changer, Murdich minnow, Cowen’s Something Else, and red squirmy or small black woolly bugger for fresh stockers. 

GA Public Waters


We had no headwater reports this week, as most of our blueline fans have now detoured to either a) bigger, downstream trout waters or b)hunting.  Bluelining should still be good as long as water temps stay above 50F. Keep throwing a dry/dropper rig and consider the risers as “bonus” fish.

Delayed Harvest:

GAWRD fisheries region supervisor Anthony Rabern said that GA’s mountain DH streams will be stocked for this year’s DH season, which kicks off on November 1.  We usually give the state and fed folks that first day to complete their stocking trips, and advise anglers to give them a try soon afterward.  Fish will be schooled up at their deposit points until high water and hunger distribute them better in the weeks ahead.  Flash and movement are the keys to these naive stockers. In 2-4 weeks, you’ll need your small nymphs and drag-less drifts to solicit strikes from smartened salmonids (like the NC fish now).

Other Trout Streams

There might be a chance of some other fall stockings, so sign up to receive the WRD weekly fishing reports and trout stocking lists. Have your kid, a Zebco, and some worms or Powerbait on standby.

Fishing – Georgia Wildlife Blog

Trout Fishing | Department Of Natural Resources Division

UO buddy Mo got back in the game and shared a 10/27 Dukes report: “Kurt and I fished Smithgall and did fairly well, despite the clear water. We caught a bunch of tiny rainbows, which gives us hope for the future population. We also landed a couple of real nice bows, while uncapping a few that straightened out our tiny nymph hooks!”

NC Streams:

Delayed Harvest waters fished well, but anglers had to up their games to fool the more experienced and educated stockers. Dredger hit Nan DH on Tuesday and had a decent day. The water was skinny and he had to find deeper pockets and pools, preferably in the shade, to get bit. He went Euro before lunch with a sexy Walts anchor and a tiny frenchie as the dropper.

At lunch, he noticed more flying October caddis and tiny (#24) BWO’s.  He re-rigged to a dry/dropper (oct Caddis, frenchie) combo and finished the day with another handful of fish, including a few on top. All three flavors of stockers and some wild bows were fondled.

RonW’s bunch did better:

“Here you go...what a day! 

Yesterday (10/23) was another stellar day on the water for the Trio. We fished some new water on a familiar creek and it didn't disappoint. We went up about 2 miles, cherry picking the good runs and also fishing the pocket water in-between.

 My Purple CDC Ronko did it again. Stocked fish and wild fish just can't leave this fly  alone. I easily caught a couple dozen on the same fly, including two stud browns back to back about 30 minutes apart. Upon photo analysis, it was the same fish!

 I remembered  my waders and took zero falls in the creek, which is a win right there. Add in numbers of fish with a few quality fish mixed in and time spent with great friends and you have yourself a life-long memory to file away.”


The Smokies streams were low and clear and full of spooky residents. Dredger hit one park locale last Sunday afternoon.  Fishing was great but his catching was slow, at least until the shadows fell on his dry/dropper rig. He woulda caught more by strictly nymphing, but wanted to enjoy a last hurrah with dries before it really turned cold.

 A cornucopia of consolation  prizes still made the day great: clear water, fall leaf colors, color-full wild bows and browns, and a BIG elk herd at dusk. Hint: if they aren’t visiting the Cherokee visitors center, then hang the next right toward greener grass at the Job Corps Center.

Private Waters:

Jake:  “I had a great day on the Soque with Tom. It was all nymph-fishing, down deep with a healthy amount of split shot. We had plenty of action all morning on various mayfly nymphs and small egg patterns. We did manage a real nice brown, which fell for a very small egg pattern.”

I watched new UO staffer Grant practice his nymphing  skills at the Bend yesterday after work. He landed three chunky bows in short order on “a good drift” and some small, dark natural nymph like a hare’s ear.

Jimmy: “We had a great time hosting the All Girls Flyfishing Event at Nacoochee Bend on Saturday. The majority of our young ladies hooked up and quite a few of the new flyfishers landed their very first trout!  Nymphing was the key to most hookups, with rubberleg stones, dark woolly buggers, rainbow warriors, and lightning bugs among the top producers. We’d like to give a shout-out to the White County News for its excellent article on this event!”


Jimmy again:

“Kathy and I had fun hosting our dear friends from TX, Steven and Audrey.  Steven corralled a nice striper on Lanier. The next day, both of them had fun dredging nymphs and mops at Nacoochee Bend. Both caught 20+ inch fish, while Audrey landed two that pushed 24 inches!  They sure enjoyed their Georgia mini-vacation.”


No recent reports.


HenryC checked in:  “Striper fishing on the pond is still very hit or miss. They feed one day and then take the next day off.   Water temps on Lanier are cooling and we should be getting into the consistent temps needed by the next week. Every year is different and this year once again shows that. Fish on Lanier are definitely a little stockier as we are seeing more 8-10lb fish than in past seasons. Fish have been caught already on artificials up to 15lbs,  which is a great sign for the lake population. We should start seeing birds helping locate the schools of fish over the next couple of weeks. Intermediate fly lines with flies in the 2" to 4" range are what you need. Fish are either on small shad or medium herring and that's the conundrum. Having a 2" fly on when you find a school eating herring won't get you a bite. Same when you throw a 4" fly and your school is eating 2" shad. If you have two rods, rig them both and be ready to “match the hatch” at your bow. We are now booking trips for the January timeframe. Good luck and I’ll see you on the pond. “


“Striper fishing on Lake Lanier is beginning to show signs of what we all love in the fall; schools of stripers busting shad on the surface.  They are up and down quickly, so rig a spinning rod with a swimmer (Ex:Sebile) and a fly rod with a small streamer (Clouser or something else) and be ready for a quick cast or two while they’re up.”

That’s the latest scoop on this cold and rainy day. Hey, we need the liquid and the chill. They’re both good for the fish!  And we hope this hot intel has warmed your buns enough today to pack your car and make some weekend memories.  By dusk!

Why?  Get inside to a TV:

Go Braves!

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 10/21/21

Welcome back to similar conditions as we saw last week. The weather is great, with crisp mornings, comfortable afternoons, and dry days. Real dry. While we may get a few showers tonite, they likely won’t impact our streamflows very much. Creeks are cool and super-clear. Again, bring your best stealth game and be ready to downsize your tippet and flies if fish are nervous and picky in the clear water. Droppers might outfish your dries once again.

Slow down and get down with your pond and river  bass flies to accommodate cooler water temperatures. You might still have some good catches during our home stretch before cold water shuts down the north GA river bite.

Shallow action in reservoirs is slowly picking up. Capt Mack Farr’s recent Lanier reports give us fly-flingers hope for surface action soon.


Best bets are wild and summer holdover trout, North Carolina Delayed Harvest trout, pond/river bass and bream on warm afternoons, and reservoir bass and stripers late in the day and after dark.

Angler intel and Wes’ hot fly list follow on our Facebook page and blog.angler.management.

Wes’ Hot Fly List

Dries: Yellow or orange Stimulator, elk hair caddis, chubby Chernobyl.

Nymphs: Blowtorch, Walt's worm, girdle bug, lightning bug (silver), hares ear, frenchie, pheasant tail.

Streamers & warmwater:

Sparkle minnow, triple double rainbow, clouser minnow, finnese changer, Murdich minnow, black woolly bugger.


Headwater flows are dropping, but there is still a decent volume in these creeks to drift your dry. They are just super-clear, so be ready to downsize tippet and bugs to coax more strikes. Leaf-fall isn’t bad yet, unless a wind gust blows through. (It will be worse up in NC, as falls runs 1-2 weeks earlier up there.). Just look for deeper and/or shaded water for eager fish. Be ready with an 18 inch dropper to a #16 beaded pheasant tail or hares ear, if residents are slow to eat your dry. A high Hooch trib ran 58F at 11AM today.

RonW’s first of two awesome contributions this week:

“The Trio became a 5 piece on Saturday 10/16 when we linked up with a few friends, aka the "Young Guns", to fish some new water across the state line. The day started off great with us seeing the largest bald eagle I've ever seen do a fly over as we were gearing up.  

We stepped into the water and were immediately into colored up wild fish.Numerous flies worked throughout the day as long as the drift was perfect. My Purple Ronco slayed them again for Moe and I as did some other smaller cdc nymphs I tie. We also caught a few on eggs, squirmies, buggers, Pheasant Tails and Frenchies to name a few. 

What a great day to be out on the water and in good company. The five of us combed thru about 1.5 miles of water, with all picking up well over a dozen fish each. The Young Guns probably doubled what we caught...these guys can flat out fish! This ole' dog definitely learned some new tricks.”

Trout Streams:

Dukes Creek:

Web reports last week showed that Dukes was very tough in the low, clear water. We expect the same challenging conditions this week as flows remain low and clear. Remember our tip of dropping a small, natural nymph or midge 3 feet under a bushy stimulator and floating the combo downstream, into a deep, shady run or pool. If the nymph isn’t tungsten, then add a size 6 or 8 dinsmore shot to the tippet about 6 inches above it. Sink it under your dry.

Other GA streams:

Bigger streams that stayed cold enough for summer trout survival should continue their revival. Remember October’s color -orange, and try an October caddis or orange stimulator as your top fly. Drop a #16 tungsten prince, frenchie, or hares ear about 3-4 feet behind it. Give these bigger waters a try:  the upper Toog, West Fork, Hooch low in the WMA, Cooper, the Cohuttas, and low elevation Smokies streams. Bring binocs to elk-watch if you head to the national park.


DH streams have fished really well. They should, for the fish were fresh out of the hatchery.  Now, 3 weeks into the season, they’ll start smartening up. Keep your attractor (egg, worm, rubberlegs) as your first fly, but change your dropper to something small and either bright (lighting bug) or buggy (pheasant tail) to appeal to more experienced fish and even the wild trout in most of those streams.

Many GA tourists like the Tuck, too. The fine folks at Tuck Fly Shop shared some good intel on their home river:


You don’t have to believe this, but as I’m typing this DH section and finishing the weekly report at 4:54PM, my phone starts blowing up.

To your benefit! Ole RonW shared the freshest fishing report possible.  Enjoy:

“Against my better judgement and in light of my recent wading mishaps, I made a game time decision to shoot up to Fires today 10/21 on a solo mission. I only had about 4 hours to fish so I had to make the most of it. I went to the same spot where on my last outing, we saw a 20"+ rainbow cruising a certain run but couldn't get him to eat.  I saw him move up out of nowhere as soon I got in the watern. A few drifts right in his face and nothing!  I saw him move on my 5th cast, line went tight and we were dancing. He  jumped a few feet out of the water and shook me off in a matter of seconds! I spent another 20 minutes trying for another hookup to no avail.

The fish are starting to wise up and are not eating junk like they were a few weeks ago. I did manage to fool 3 on the egg and another dozen or so on my Purple Ronco before I had to call it quits and head back south to get a little work done.

 I ran into another fisherman who had quite the scare. There were Hunters out there training their dogs to chase bears and they chased one right down the hill,  through the Rhodo and nearly right on top of this guy...scared the bejeeesus out of him as he put it.  

All in all, it was another great day to be alive and time well spent on the water. I can't wait till the weekend.”

Private Waters:

UO Helen shop manager and guide Wes: “Private water fished well this week with the cool air. The water level is dropping so a good drift or a swung fly seems to be the trick. Girdle bugs, Rainbow warriors, Walt's worms, and pheasant tails worked best for my clients.”

UO guide Palmer:

“My clients did well this week on mops, squirmies, eggs, also the ever trusty soft hackles and woolly buggers. Dead-drifting and swinging techniques both worked.”

Bass Rivers:

Local rivers are clear and a bit cold.  They should fish well for folks tossing subsurface patterns. The Hooch at Highway 115 was nice and clear, but a cool 59 F at noon yesterday (20th). Try some articulated streamer patterns and crayfish ties, and work them slowly in the colder water.  This bite will likely slow as water temps drop into the fifties, so grab your yak or canoe soon for a floating last hurrah til next spring. 

UO owner Jimmy hit the Hooch for less than an hour after work this week. He waded a shoal near his house and dredged up two small shoalies and a pretty redbreast. And commented:

“Fly anglers love to pursue beautiful fish. They don’t come much more beautiful than a Chattahoochee redbreast.”

Small Lakes and Warmwater Streams:

Again, cooling surface temps may cool off the topwater bite, but streamer fishing should remain consistent.

Athens Jay filed this brief report and shared some

 nice pics: “Local pond fishing was good despite windy conditions. “


UO staffer Joseph:

“Here’s a pic of a spot I caught over the weekend. We were throwing baitfish imitations on points and in coves. “

There’s the latest, and I mean latest, intel from your UO gang.  Get out there  soon and enjoy the cool weather and clear water. Before you know it, you’ll be head-to-toe in fleece and bottom-bumping nymphs for a few lethargic winter trout. 

Don’t let fall get past you. Come by or call either UO store if we can help your October fishing-fest. Remember your waders and remember to duck if bears and dogs fail their social distancing test!

Unicoi Outfitters:




Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Striper Prep

It’s the perfect time of the year to “rerun” young Josh England’s great video on Lanier striper fishing.

Angling action picks up as reservoir temperatures drop. We hope you’re ready to chase bait, birds, spots, and stripers this fall and winter. Make sure you have fresh tippet and well-tied knots to avoid teeth-gnashing and tears!  Good luck.



Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Dry/droppers and Indi Rigs

Check out this great video from Orvis on a) the dry/dropper and b) the indicator methods of trout fishing. This is about the best how-to composition I’ve seen.  

If you’re a flyfishing rookie, this should be required “homework” before your next trip. And it will be the most fun homework task you’ll ever have. Take note, all TU 5Rivers clubs, as Dr. Dredger has given y’all an assignment!


Even the veterans among us will pick up a few new tips from the Orvis Guru of flyfishing, Tom Rosenbauer. The entire show is worth watching. But if you’re short on time, be sure to “catch” the first 17 minutes.  

The show’s first great tip that I enjoyed was Tom terming the strike indicator the “drift” indicator. How true! If we get a good drift, we often get a healthy strike. So think “drift” first and “strike” second when watching your indi or buoyant dry.

Regardless of how much of the show you watch, your time spent will be well worth it.  Trust me on this one. The video distills the last five decades of our instream, trial-and-error learning down to a one-hour instructional masterpiece. 

Bookmark it, share it with a fishing friend, and definitely try some of Tom’s tips on your next trouting trip. Then watch your success rate rise! Thank you Midcurrent, the Orvis Company,  and Tom Terrific.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Think Pink

This month the hot fly might just be a PINK San Juan worm. Why? It’s breast cancer awareness month, so think pink!  

One of our favorite groups of gals is Casting for Recovery- Georgia. UO’s adopted sisters, Beverly and Lynn, run the program and lead a great annual flyfishing retreat at Smithgall Woods Park for women survivors. 


Most of the guests have never touched a fly rod before, but are treated to stream entomology and fly fishing lessons. Their free weekend retreat is topped off by a guided fishing trip on the Hooch at Nacoochee Bend.

Those special guests leave with lots of smiles, memories, new friends, and a new hobby. 

UO is proud to support CFR-GA through our volunteer fishing guides and a Sunday of fun on our trophy trout waters. We have even more fun than our new girl friends as we “catch” their whoops, high-fives, and huge smiles.


(Photo credit: WingedReel)

For more information on CFR-GA, its application process, or if you’d like to donate to the cause, check out their website.  The smiles of those new women flyfishers are truly priceless. Be a part of something great this month and…

Think pink!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 10/14/21

Get ready for the big cool-down that will finally bring us some legitimate fall weather on Saturday.  Chilly air will drop water temperatures and likely send fish toward subsurface feeding, so plan accordingly. Little wild trout might still hit your dries after lunch, but your nymph dropper might see more action. Same goes for river bass, with more fish interested in streamers or jigs instead of your summer poppers.

Stream conditions are great, just like the weather. Flows are good and the water is super-clear, so practice your stealth and maybe downsize your tippet and bugs by a size to get past discerning fish eyes.  At midmorning today, a high Hooch trib was clear, flowing well, and 62F. The Hooch at Highway 115 had clear, 65-degree water for shoalie fans.

Best bets are bluelines with a small dropper below your dry, NC Delayed Harvest streams with about any pattern with a hook in it and rolled along the bottom,  pond bass and bream on a last hurrah before cold water slows the bite, and some reservoir recons (with prayers) to find some shallow stripers. 

We are two weeks into the NC delayed harvest season and two weeks away from Georgia’s program kickoff.

It’s a good time to remind folks, especially our flyfishing rookies, to match their bugs and techniques to the education level of the DH stockers. Review our past article, Delayed Harvest University, in the November 2020 issue of The Angler Magazine - Atlanta edition and you might score more trouting touchdowns this season.


Angler intel and Wes’ hot fly list follow on our Facebook page and blog.angler.management. Good luck as we really welcome fall and dress for some cool-weather success.

Wes’ Hot Fly List

Dries: Orange stimulator, elk hair caddis, parachute Adams.

Nymphs: Bird Turd, Slush egg, Tungsten mop, Flashback red tag jig, micro mayfly, hare’s ear.

Streamers & warmwater:

Sparkle minnow, muddy buddy, mini leech, finesse changer, solar flare Boogle bug, bluegill slider.


We had few reports last week, as a lot of folks evidently were watching ball games instead of wetting a line. Athens Jay snuck up high above Helen Saturday afternoon and landed a small handful of little wild rainbows. He said they were hesitant to hit his dry (orange stimulator), but much more eager to inhale his hares ear dropper.

There were two great speck reports and awesome pics from IDBIS Creek on North GA Trout Online’s small stream forum.

Trout Streams:

Dukes Creek:

The trophy stream will be tough in gin clear water. Google old Dukes Creek articles in Georgia Outdoor News for tips. The bottom line is stealth, light tippets (5-6x), and perfect drifts of small, dark nymphs.

Angling addict RonW checked in twice this week. Here’s his first fish tale:

“Kurt and I fished "The Creek" with a buddy of ours on Saturday 10/9.  The day started rough for me when I realized I forgot my waders 70 miles from home.  Luckily, I was able to swing by Unicoi Outfitters at 8am and get set up.

We got into fish right off the bat and pretty much stayed connected all day.  I landed a nice 14" and 16" bow from the first run I stepped into. Best of the day for me was a bow just shy of 20". Kurt and Jacob both stuck some good'uns over 22".

There are a lot of small, parred' up wild fish and plenty in the 12-16" range too. Some monsters were spotted but couldn't be fooled. Looks like the creek is making a comeback. Numerous flies worked on the day.....I don't think it mattered too much as long as the drifts were right and you stayed outta sight.   Can't wait to hit the creek again soon.”

Other GA streams:

Try one of the great dry/dropper combos suggested this week by our friends responding to our Facebook and Instagram posts. Lengthen your tippet to 3-4 feet to sink your nymph down to the trout. Right now, leaf-fall isn’t bad and you should have fun as long as the wind doesn’t blow.

If you have few takes, lengthen the tippet some more, or pull out your Indi- or Euro game and roll some nymphs on light tippet right along the bottom.  Summer  survivors are wary and picky, so give them your A-game.


Web reports show that North Carolina streams are fishing well.  (See Preston’s post on the GA Trout Anglers FB group page) DH streams draw weekend crowds, so aim for a Sunday afternoon or any weekday for more elbow room.  Fresh DH trout are great confidence-builders for new flyfishers, so tote a rookie along with you and play Champion Guide. Their smiles will be your catch of the day. 

RonW had another report:

“Kurt and I both played hookie from work today (10/11) and hit Fires Creek. The fishing was great and the catching was even better.  There's some nice healthy stockers in there willing to eat just about anything. That will change real soon as they become educated to bright flies and sharp hooks.   Legs and eggs, buggers and squirmeys all worked but the fly of the day for me was my Purple CDC Nymph...aka The Ronco Special. Kurt absolutely tore them up on his pink perdigon. We easily caught a few dozen each before we called it a day. Nothing like putting on wet wading boots! If I had it my way, they would never dry out.”

Private Waters:

They’ve fished great this week.  Guides and anglers have just had to change flies quite a bit until they find the flavor of the day. Flavors have varied from eggs to worms to mops and to rubberlegs.  Carry a full nymph box, or lean heavily on your talented UO guide, if you’re coming up to our water, Nacoochee Bend in Helen.

UO Helen shop manager Wes has a real fresh report: ”I fished with Allen and his son Caden yesterday on the Bend.   The fish were hunkered down so getting to the proper depth was important. Rubber legged stones were the ticket in the swift water.”


Rivers are clear due to the rainless week. Try some streamers and crayfish patterns fished slowly, as the cooler water will slow those bass down. On the upside, the tuber flotillas should be done for the year, and you’ll have a lot more river to yourselves.

Small Lakes and Warmwater Streams:

They might slow down a bit with cooler weather and water, but should still fish decently. Our reports have been from this past, warm weekend.

Landon checked in briefly:

“Fished a local creek other day in between deer hunts.  A 3-wt with poppers is a fun combo for its resident bream.”

UO staffer Joseph:

“Here’s a pic of a pickerel I caught on a small lake today.  I was focusing on brush piles fishing articulated streamers with aggressive strips and long pauses. It was a fun day on flat water.”

Quick add!

The Athens bunch just checked in with this 11th hour report:

An outing to a local Regional Reservoir on Monday produced a half dozen nice largemouth bass on baitfish flies. A little gray-backed zonker with a composite loop belly thrown on a slow sinking line was the ticket. Bass were busting shad in the backs of creeks, under the bridge, and even out in open water. The main difficultly was chasing down activity in my kayak. The reservoir is relatively new, and I’ve explored maybe 10% of it. It’s only been open to fishing since 2018, so time will tell regarding what kind of fishery this will be.” 

That’s the latest intel for anyone daring enough to slip outside between football and baseball games. Don’t forget your heavier clothing and a pair of waders, preferably  leak-tested beforehand.  From Dawgs to Braves to trout and bass, we hope everyone’s a winner this week. Call or stop by either UO store if we can coach you up on the latter!

Unicoi Outfitters: