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 8, 2021

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 10/8/21

“Dry/droppers” is this week’s theme. What’s dry? The sun returned today and we’re finally drying out across north GA after more than 7 inches of rain this week. And the droppers? Now streams are starting to drop. The best “droppers”  are bluelines first, given their small watersheds.  Head uphill and outwalk the runoff; the higher you go, the lower the flow.

Medium trout streams will soon follow, while the biggest trout streams and bass rivers will need several more days to drop to fishable flows.

Best bets are bluelines with dries, medium trout streams in a day or two with dry/dropper combos or Euronymphs, bass and bream ponds, and some reservoir recons to hunt shallow stripers and spots. Watch out for boating hazards like huge logs that the week’s floods have washed into lake headwaters.

Once  trout streams drop back to your safe wading levels, try these two nuggets of intel. First, use the whitewater to help locate the soft spots- eddies along the banks and behind boulders and submerged trees. The stark contrast between raging whitewater and calm pockets makes it easier to find those prime high-water feeding spots. Hi-stick over the fast stuff to drift your bugs slowly in those tight pockets.

Second, try Euronymphing those slow spots, especially if fish are a bit shy to your dries. Big, heavy, meaty nymphs, especially if the water still has a bit of stain, might connect you with some hefty fish that will test your drag.

The good news is that all the rain was spread across multiple days. While high, most trout waters are already fairly clear.

Forget bass rivers for a while. The Hooch at Highway 115 was a raging brown torrent last night. Big waters will need several days to pass all the muddy runoff.

Check reservoirs early and late for predators busting shad schools. Bring your binoculars. They might be midlake or right against the bank.

Angler intel and Wes’ hot fly list follow on our Facebook page and blog.angler.management. Good luck as we dry and drop!

Wes’ Hot Fly List

Dries: Orange stimulator, tan or orange elk hair caddis, parachute Adams, blue wing olive when flows recede.

Nymphs: bead head pheasant tail and prince, sexy walts worm, brown Pat’s rubberlegs, tan mop, red squirmy worm.

Streamers & warmwater:

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


They’re full and fast, but clear and dropping quickly. It’s another good time for a big, bushy dry (Ex: #14 stimulator or Caddis ) with a nymph dropper (#16 beaded hares ear) trailed a foot or two off the back.  Find the slow spots against the bank or behind boulders to drift your combo.

Two weeks ago, after the last flood, I had a big time on little headwater bows. They felt safe in the heavy water and came up to smash my caddis with reckless abandon. Most were small, but a couple were not. If I hit a flood refuge, I got a look - and often an eat. This  weekend might be a chance for a “rerun” of those prime conditions.


Trout Streams:

Dukes Creek:

It should fish well this weekend for reservation holders and any lucky walk-ons. Safe bank-huggers will use their turbidity meters to choose the right flies and correct weight for the water clarity and velocity.


WMA streams:

The Hooch just below the WMA boundary was high and ripping this morning. The good news is that it was only slightly stained. It and other WMA streams should drop to fishable levels quickly. Know your own wading limits and pick your spots carefully. When in doubt, don’t get in. Fish from the bank.

As those larger trout streams finally fall to your safe wading levels, try some Euronymphing in the slow spots scattered among the raging currents. With a long rod, reach over the fast current and get some slow drifts in the soft eddies right against the bank and below rock ledges and boulders. Try a heavy tungsten Pat’s rubberlegs or sexy walts worm as your anchor fly, and hang  a small, bright dropper  (surveyor, rainbow warrior, or even a red squirmy) a foot or two above it. Floods are trout food buffets! You just have to locate their prime restaurant seats.


North Carolina streams are in the same shape as ours. High headwaters should be fishable, while larger streams will be blown out for several more days. Here’s some intel on the Nan, Tuck, and Luftee.  




Hopefully you’ve been writing some notes on your smart phone after your past fishing trips and comparing those stream conditions you faced with the USGS gauge data for each day. Then you’ll know in the future,just by looking at the online gauge data, when streams drop back down to your own safe wading level - and when it’s time to burn some gas.

Private Waters:

They fished real well before the storms, but have been blown out all week. They’ll fish really well again, when they recede. All those resident fish will not have seen anyone’s flies for a week or longer.


They’re blown out for several more days, so go somewhere else while you monitor their USGS gauges. 


Athens Jay did share a nice, pre-flood report that gives us hope for the weeks ahead: 

“Last weekend the flows were great in Piedmont rivers. Sunday I took one of our UGA 5 Rivers students on a hunt for shoal bass. We founds plenty of fish, but presentation was critical. We found that big, light-colored streamers twitched (not dead-drifted) produced aggressive strikes.

Small Lakes:

RonW floated this report:

“Mixed it up last weekend and fished for some green fish off of the kayak. The fishing was great but the catching was slow...still managed a handful of fish over the weekend.  We caught them on a wacky rigged senkos,  Ned rigs, spinner baits and a few came on a flipping jig with craw trailer. “

Young angling addict Spence is still whacking bass in his honey hole: the pond spillway pool.   Dad said his secret weapon is a mini-minnow fly.


HenryC’s Lanier buddy, “Fluffy” said the topwater bite is starting on Lanier. Check out Kevin’s website and latest Instagram post for more intel:


Really Far Afar:

Years ago, Jimmy infected young Bryan with the flyfishing bug.  He’s all grown up now and doing great things himself. Jimmy reports:

“Bryan Crumpler took a day off from helping The Fly Fishing Collaborative build a new aquaponics farm in Belize to play with this 125 pound tarpon.”


There’s your post-flood optimism from our UO gang.  Call or stop by either store as you re-emerge into the sunshine and wet a line somewhere safe this week. Watch those river gauges and remember to wade and boat safely! Good luck.



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