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, October 1, 2021

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 10/1/21

Sorry we’re late this week. It’s been busy at our fly shops and  on our home fronts, too. But hey, we got this out tonight, before you revved your Saturday morning engines, so now you’ll know which way to go after your biscuit and coffee.

“Hungry but spooky” is how I’d label your finned targets right now. Streams and rivers are low, clear, and cold, thanks to chilly nights and a lack of rainfall. Most fish are reacting with much better appetites, tempered only by their predator avoidance. That bright sun paints a bullseye on their backs in clear water. So find them like you did in the summer, in the shade and shadows.

Speaking of such, we have more.   Shade and shadows, that is.  And that’s a good thing! With shorter days that now end around 730, the shadows start to fall earlier, around 3 or 4PM. And Dark30 ends at that earlier, respectable 7ish hour, so you can quit fishing and get home in time for a full night’s sleep.

Leaves have started to fall, but they aren’t bad yet. Daytime air temps are perfect for a day on the stream or lake. Go soon and don’t forget your waders if you’re thin.  Darn near everything except stocked trout streams (it’s the stocking off-season) are fishing well. And our neighbor state to the north has some great opps for the road-trippers among y’all.

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

Wes’ Hot Fly List

Dries: Orange stimulator, elk hair caddis, parachute Adams, blue wing olive.

Nymphs: flashback pheasant tail, psycho prince, improved yallarhammer, peach egg, squirmy worm, Pat’s rubberlegs.

Streamers & warmwater:

Sparkle minnow, bank robber sculpin, hot cone wooly bugger, feather changer, headcase crayfish.


Dredger wandered out late Sunday afternoon and found a few cooperative wild bows. They were glued to the bottom due to bright sunshine and low, crystal-clear water. He might have caught more if he had added a small nymph dropper behind his #14 elk hair caddis or downsized the caddis.  But he was too lazy to change and was content with the level of action on the beautiful day high in the national forest. He fondled about 7 or 8 little bows from 3 to 5pm.  Biggest might have nosed close to 8 inches.

He did better when tossing his bug in the shade of overhanging logs (pics), and sometimes twitching the dry.  It was fun to watch the residents rise from the bottom to inspect his offering. Refusals outnumbered eats by a 3:1 margin.

Trout Streams:

Dredger’s Dukes Creek Tips:

Before it rains again, lucky reservation holders may be humbled.  Those big fish are super spooky in gin-clear water.   Try my stealth indicator technique. Drop a small pheasant tail, hares ear, or WD40 on 3 feet of 6X behind a big, buoyant stimulator (yellow or orange). Sneak in upstream of your target, cast quietly and short, and let line out to drift your combo downstream into the sweet spot.

When it rains next week and boosts the flow and turbidity, be ready with thicker tippet, some split shot, and a pink squirmy or Pats rubberlegs. And a buddy with superb netting and photography skills!

NC DH kicks off:

Remember that Delayed Harvest season kicks off in NC.  Check that agency’s website and plan a fall excursion soon. 


The Tuck, Nan, and Fires are favorites among north Georgians. If you can hit them on weekdays, there’s lots of elbow room. Weekend crowds also clear out after lunch on Sundays.

Private Waters:

Pampered stream residents have enjoyed their summer vacations away from angler pressure. Now they are enjoying the cold water and have great appetites for fall openers on private waters.

Robert and Caroline had a great trip to The Hooch at Nacoochee Bend this morning (10/1).  UO manager Jake put them on some nice fish. He said the chunky rainbows took a variety of patterns (rubberlegs, rainbow warriors, eggs, and squirmies) fished along the bottom and also at middepth. The trio had to cover more water, as fish were scattered among the new pools and pockets, created by the reshaping of the river channel by our summer floods.  Good luck wherever you go, as you enjoy “relearning” your favorite waters due to these flood-induced habitat shifts. It’s like fishing a new stream!


Bass rivers look great for the weekend. Fish them before the rains return. The Hooch at Highway 115 was clear and 68F when I checked it at 4PM today.  Try some poppers, but be ready with streamers if the resident shoalies and spots are hesitant to rise. Again, aim for the cover created by water depth, dusk, or bankside shadows.

Athens Jay broke away from trash-picking with his “litter” of UGA pups long  enough to add:

“Piedmont River report:

River stage is still high for this time of year, but coming down and looking good for the weekend. River bass seem to be keying more on baitfish and less on benthic critters like crawfish and hellgrammites. Best results came by swimming a light-colored game changer using a sink-tip line.”

Thanks for the intel, Jay. And thanks to your fly-flinging clan for picking the dang stuff up!

Y’all inspired many of us to grab a trash bag this week, too!

5 Rivers Club - Clean My Water

Small Lakes

North metro dweller Spence (age 11) crept down to one of his honey holes, the spillway pool below the dam on his local pond. Using flies he tied himself, he had great fun with some bass and bream. Attaboy Spence!

His dad added this:

“His shirt says:

Sorry I wasn’t listening I was thinking about fishing.”

Real Big Lakes

Henry C sez cooling surface waters have sparked the spots and stripers. To quote the Lanier Lakemaster:

“Well it's October  1st when you are reading this and that means Lake Lanier should be firing up with consistency in about 2-3 weeks. It is easily the most visual and exciting fishing we get on the pond. Striped bass and spotted bass will be chasing both herring and shad to the surface and make toilet flush type explosions all over the lake. It's the start of the striper season as we know it. It will start off more hit or miss and as we get colder at night,  the consistency of the surface feed will become more of an everyday event.  It’s time to clean the dust off your 8-weights and break away to the pond. This photo of Connor and Alayna was taken last weekend. The key to success is to burn gas and look for surface feeders. See you on the pond!”



In summary, fishing conditions are great, so wet a line before the rains return.  Just employ your summer stealth game (long and light) for best results. And if we do get several inches of rain by Wednesday, wait for flows to drop to safe levels and then use heavier line and your  “down and dirty” game to land a lunker hiding in the stain.

Then share your stories and pics.  We sure enjoy them, too!

Good luck from our UO gang.

Call or stop by either store if we can help arm you for success in either stream situation.  

Unicoi Outfitters:




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