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 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:




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