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, November 12, 2021

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 11/12/21

Your weekend is looking good! We had about 0.7 inches of rain yesterday and most of it has already run off from our streams. The only exceptions are large watersheds like the Chattooga and Toccoa. Some of you might have to wait a day or two for their flows to return to your own safe wading levels.

Streams are clear and cold, and will get colder with Sunday’s icy start.   Your best tool will be your stream thermometer.  If temps are above 50, you’re really in business.  If they’re mid-40’s or better, you’re still in pretty good shape. Afternoons will fish better as the sun warms the water.

With temps below 50, your best bets will be dredging.  Watch for a few buzzing bugs and some risers on warm afternoons and you just might land a bonus fish or two on top. Carry a few October caddis, BWO’s, and midges if you’re a dry fly die-hard.  Wild fish are always smart, while DH and private waters fish are smartening up. Try a small and natural dropper nymph or soft hackle behind your first, attractor nymph or streamer.

Lake stripers are still spotty but slowly improving. That bite will get better as lake surface temps dive next week.

Dress in layers, bundle up if you go early, and shed a layer as the sun warms both you and the fish. Mountain foliage is still scenic, but you’ll have a few more leaves to contend with. As of yesterday, they’re still not that bad. So grab you gear and go! Our long version is chock-full of timely reports and tips from our staff and friends, so if you wanna know the full scoop behind these pretty Instagram pics, tune into our Facebook page or blog.angler.management.

Good luck this week. Give UO a shout if we can help you with flies, supplies, and directions.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: Stimulator, parachute Adams, Parachute BWO.

Nymphs: peach egg, split case BWO, Frenchie, girdle bug, soft hackle partridge, pheasant tail, Pat’s rubberlegs, tan mop.

Streamers & warmwater:

Feather changer, CK baitfish, Jiggy craw, hairy fodder, muddy buddy, olive woolly bugger.


Sautee gave a high Hooch trib a shot this week. He tossed only dries on that warm afternoon in hopes of some wild bows on top. Alas, it was not to be. Despite some tiny cream midges in the air, there evidently weren’t enough surface bugs to make the residents look up.  Headwater fans oughta add a dropper if they want weekend success.

Smithgall (Dukes):

RonW: “Moe and I made a quick midweek jaunt up to North GA with a plan A (Smithgall) and a plan B (Smith) in mind. Lucky for us, we didn't need plan B. We got in the water around 9:00am and fished to 4:30ish.  The creek was low and gin clear, requiring us to bring our A game.  It's a good thing we have "Paid our Dues"  for years on this particular creek!  If you stay outta sight and get the drift right, you may just be in for a fight! 

We each brought around a dozen or more to hand, with several fish in the 16-22" range. A few giants were hooked and lost, which isn't hard to do when fishing 6x in tight quarters.  Fish were caught on several different flies including Walts Worm, Frenchie, Copper Hares ear, egg, and a CDC nymph that I can't remember the name of...to name a few. 

It was another stellar day on the water....Fish or no fish, any day on the water is a great one in my book!”


Ron W:  “Nov 6 was another fantastic day on "The River". We geared up in the dark before sunrise with new headlamps thanks to Kurt. The fishing was so spectacular we found ourselves gearing down in the dark after sunset.  

We covered just about the whole DH. The fish were in pods in the normal places but also surprisingly spread out. We were catching them in between the more fishy looking water. Flies that worked....Buggers, eggs, girdle bugs, soft hackles to name a few. I tied on my Purple Ronco with an egg dropper and didn't need to change flies all day!  The highlight for me was a 15" Humpback Brookie. Moe also caught a slightly bigger Brookie on a double hookup. I've never heard him beg for a rainbow to come off his line!

All in all, it was another stellar day sharing a little slice of Heaven with my brothers on "The River".   A big thank you to all the folks who have, and continue to make this piece of water what it is.....sincerely Mr. Sore Shoulder. “

Dredger slipped up to Tooga DH on a cool, soggy Thursday (10th). As he had hoped, the rain knocked down the crowds.  He didn’t have nearly the luck Ron did, but still caught a nice handful of chunky rainbows and one small brown in the 52 degree water.

He spent most of the day stripping an olive bugger using his Walhalla buddy’s technique: a versi leader in front of his floating line to create a sink tip and get the bugger deeper.  The best bow went airborne 8 times! A few other fish took a drifted rubberlegs. He found most of his fish in pods.  Hopefully future high flows will spread them out.


Dredger cruised up to his favorite Smokies stream on Monday (8th). It was low and clear and 52 degrees upon his noon arrival . He did fair with Euro during the day, with a mop and a rubberlegs tying for best bug.   He caught a handful of bows and one brown, with none topping 9 inches, from deeper, shaded spots.  A couple October caddis, a few BWO’s, and a bunch of midges buzzed by in the afternoon warmth, but he only saw two rises.

When the shadows fell at 4, he said “what the heck” and switched to a double dry rig.  And did well for that last hour, with 2 on his Oct caddis and about 6 little bows on his trailing #18 Adams. In the security of twilight, fish in a long, flat pool were looking up for those little dark flies. That last hour of “trout on top” made his trip worthwhile!

He topped off the day with some quick elk watching before the sun disappeared. The big herd is definitely hanging out on the green grass at the Job Corps Center.

Private Waters:

UO Helen manager Wes:  “I did a couple of trips on The Bend  this week. The water has been low and clear so the keys to success have been a clean drift with a natural fly like a pheasant tail or midge in the morning and a swung soft hackle in the afternoon. “

UO company manager Jake:

“I had the pleasure of guiding Julia for two days this week. We spent Tuesday at The Bend.  After a morning of advanced. Technique coaching, we hit the water. The afternoon was great, with about25 fish hooked on small eggs and soft hackles, dead-drifted.

Day 2 found us on the Soque. Julia perfected her dry/dropper game in the morning, and six nice fish all ate the tungsten dropper.  She then switched to an Indi rig and nymphed for the afternoon.  And lit them up again on small eggs and soft hackles!  They were two fun fall days with a talented angler.”

Special Bend Guests!

UO owner Jimmy: “For over 10 years now Unicoi Outfitters has been honored to host the Casting for Recovery Georgia retreats on their Sunday fishing outings.  After missing 2020 due to Covid, the retreat was finally held this past week at Smithgall Woods with the fishing at Nacoochee Bend.  To say this is a special event for all of us would be an understatement.  These ladies are such an inspiration and a blessing to all of us.  We love our time spent with them. “

Flat Water:

HenryC and Jimmy: “Striper fishing on Lanier is about to undergo the most dynamic changes of the fall in the coming week.  This week it's hit or miss; like deer hunting.  If you burn some gas you're likely to find a couple of schools of fish busting bait on the surface.  And if you are in the right place at the right time, you'll have a blast.  The weather coming in next week is predicted to be significantly colder and will bring in the gulls and terns; our bird dogs who help us find the coveys.  So rig your rods with an intermediate line and tie on Cowen's Something Else, a Mini Gamechanger, or a Gray & White Clouser and hold on!”


That’s the latest news from our hills around Helen. And it’s all good! Go soon while water temps are well above 40 and trout still have hefty  appetites. If your schedule is flexible, aim for a warm weekday afternoon and remember that box of dries. Give UO a shout if we can help y’all out!

UO: Friendly. Local. Experts.

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