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 26, 2021

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 11/26/21

Welcome to “Thanksgiving Leftovers.”  They’re actually looking pretty darn good, especially on DH streams, since our three state wildlife agencies spiced them up during the last week or so.

Prepare for Skinny Water Saturday, as our region streams remain very low, gin-clear, and cold when the nights are freezing.  Fishing conditions and techniques will be about the same as those described in last week’s report (blog.angler.management) so be ready with your “long, light, and deep” game once again.

On those DH streams, tie a good attractor (egg, squirmy, rubberlegs) on to 4X or 5X tippet as your first fly for naive fish. Then drop something small (#16-18) two feet off the back on 6X to lure the seasoned DH residents and the wild fish.  Try “bright” first (prince, lightning bug, rainbow warrior) on that dropper.  If “flash and beads” are doing more spooking than luring, then go “natural:” pheasant tail, hare’s ear, dark soft hackles, or WD40.  Use that first hour astream to change up a bit until you dial them in. Always change your weight and indicator depth before you change flies.

The weather will warm with each passing day, so you may have other, fun opportunities on those sunny afternoons: 1) bugger-stripping, 2) dry-dropper, and 3) maybe some double-dries if the water bumps up near 50F and a few bugs fly by your nose. Don’t forget your good friend- a stream thermometer.

Private waters are fishing great, especially as water temps begin to rise at mid-morning.  Don’t miss our Black Friday deal for fishing Nacoochee Bend. That gift certificate makes a great stocking stuffer.


Lake spots and stripers remain hit-or-miss. We need Lanier to really cool off and the forage species to swim shallow to spark consistent predator action in fly rod range.

As always, specific intel and fresh fishing reports follow on our Facebook page and blog.  Take a few minutes to absorb those details if you really want to up your game this week. Otherwise, just enjoy a day off under a blue sky, in a clear trout stream, with nary a worry. Call or come by either UO store if we can help your holiday cheer.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: Stimulator, elk hair caddis, parachute BWO.

Nymphs: Zebra midge, Oops, soft hackle partridge, slush egg, purple lightning bug, hare’s ear.

Streamers & warmwater:

Sparkle minnow, muddy buddy, hot cone bugger, Polar changer.


They are low, clear, and cold.  They weren’t too cold today (Smith 48F above lake and 51 in DH section at noon; Spoilcane 50 at noon), and that’s because last nite was relatively mild. Watch the weather forecast and hit small streams after warm nights or on warm, sunny afternoons. Dries will just be strike indicators for your droppers. 

Smithgall (Dukes):

UO young gun Grant:

“I had a great day on Dukes Creek with my dad last Sunday. We ended up catching about 21 fish, including a couple nice sized ones. The fish were not taking junk flies at all. We ended up catching most of the fish on size 18 rubberleg pheasant tails and size 16 and 18 olive twisted mayflies. Drifted well, of course.  These are smart fish at Smithgall.”

GA Public Waters:

Note: based my my experience, add about 2 or 3 degrees to the Burrell’s Ford USGS gauge data and you’ll be in the ball park for Chattooga DH conditions.  Note that Smith DH is a Tailwater, and the lake moderates water temps a bit. Smith DH usually runs a few degrees warmer than nearby streams. Keep this in mind for the frosty days ahead. NC streams usually run several degrees colder than GA streams, due to higher elevation and some that face (flow) north. That’s good in the summer, but tough in the winter.

Smith DH:

Last week’s redose inflated angler catch rates, if the web reports aren’t fibs. Soon those fresh stockers will smarten up. Try a junk fly (small egg or squirmy), but be ready to go small and natural very quickly.  Stealth, a good drift, and 6X fluoro tippet will be more important than fly pattern.

Chattooga DH:

Ron W: “The Trio made a hump-day trip up to "The River" today (11/24). To our surprise we had the whole river to ourselves, only seeing one other angler all day. Air Temp was 28F when we got up there but that didn't affect the catching at all. The fish were hugging the bottom and not moving too far for a meal. The theme of the day was typical winter fishing tactics... getting the fly down quick and hitting them right in the nose. 

We each landed 2 dozen plus... a nice mix of feisty  rainbows, chunky browns and some nice colored up  humpback brookies. Flies that worked....Eggs, squirmies, Ronco Fly,  Rainbow Warrior and a Olive cdc nymph to name a few. 

We also got a surprise visitor around noon who brought a few hundred of his closest friends from their former home along the East Fork Chattooga.  And our catch rates rose even more!

It was another great day on the water with great friends. We worked up a heck of an appetite for Turkey Day.  I certainly can get used to these midweek fishing trips. “

NC Waters:

Web reports showed Nan DH fishing well. It should have, since it was redosed on the 15th. Those streams have similar water conditions (low, clear, even colder than GA streams in the mornings), so plan accordingly - long, light, ad deep.  For that agency’s DH stocking schedule, go here:


And click on “hatcheries and stocking.”  Fresh fish are great confidence-boosters for rookie fly anglers!

Private Waters:

UO Helen manager Wes:

“I did a few trips on The Bend this week. With the low flows and colder temperatures don’t be afraid to downsize your patterns. Root beer midges, RS2’s, and small pheasant tails worked best in the mornings. When the water temps warmed up in the afternoon soft hackles and streamers worked well.”

UO Guide Palmer:

“My  Bend clients had a great time this week swinging soft hackles and egg patterns .  We also caught some nice rainbows by twitching a squirmy worm to get their attention.”

UO Guide Israel:

“My clients also had some great trips to The Bend, despite the low, clear water in Helen.  The river residents now seem to be favoring smaller nymphs and emergers in the 18-20 range. Here’s a pic of Kevin with his hefty rainbow that gave him a great fight.”

Flat Water:


“Struck out on stripers this morning but we found a decent shallow point bite on spots. Underspins on conventional tackle and clousers on intermediate fly lines both worked well.”

Capt Mack’s Reports :

(This page is worth a bookmark!)


Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend. Maybe even sneak out one warm day next week. Why? Soon you’ll be knocking ice out of your rod guides, so don’t miss the good times right now. Stop by either UO store, call us, or knock on the door of our online store if we can help you with intel, supplies, or holiday gift ideas.

UO: Friendly. Local. Experts.

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