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, December 10, 2021

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 12/10/21

Hooray, it rained a bit today! Keep it coming, Mother Nature, for our streams badly need a recharge.  For this week, the theme is “S-Cubed.”  First, be Safe. There’s a strong front headed our way tomorrow, so be weather-aware. Don’t get stuck on a remote forest road when trees fall and you don’t have a chainsaw to cut your way out.   Second, be Stealthy.  This low, clear water has all trout nervous as heck. It’s been tough to sneak up on them ( I was almost skunked yesterday).   Third, Skip the shallows. There’s just not enough good habitat there to keep trout happy and hungry, so go deep or go home. Aim for deeper runs and pools, the drought refuges, to find cooperative salmonids.  Try dry/dropper setups in moderate (2-4ft) depths and then some dredging in the real deep stuff. Stand back a bit more and cast farther than usual to avoid being spotted. Indi-fishing rigs might even be better than Euro right now, due to distance.

“Going deep” has held true on our lakes, too, as baitfish have remained deep - to the frustration of fly anglers. See HenryC’s very fresh reports from Wednesday and today for some sage advice and a sudden dose of hope.

Let’s hope these two days of rain amount to something. If you can, fish the surge after the storm. You can then use bigger bugs and heavier tippet. Watch the stream gauges closely or call our Helen shop.  That surge will be brief and streams will quickly drop back to drought levels.  Next week dries out and warms up again, so be ready to return to light line/tiny bugs. Maybe you’ll see some risers, so take midges and BWO’s with you. Try an elk hair caddis as your “indi with a hook in it.” It sure worked for me last week.

As always, peruse the long version of this report on FB or by clicking on “fishing reports” at unicoioutfitters.com, which will take you to our blog.  I’ll post it soon.  The regional angling intel doesn’t get any fresher than the menu UO offers!

Good luck. Keep our Helen and Clarkesville stores in mind for you last minute shopping. We sure appreciate your support!

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: parachute Adams, Griffith's gnat, BWO.

Nymphs: Slush egg, hotspot jig girdle bug, squirmy worm, baetis perdigon, Montana prince, pheasant tail, zebra midge.

Streamers & warmwater:

Finesse changer, sparkle minnow, triple double rainbow.


No reports here, as most of us abandon them for bigger waters where we can actually backcast, rhododendron-free. We save them for our summer trout fixes.

Blueline fans may have a chance one afternoon during next week’s warm spell.  I would still use a buoyant dry (#14 or 16 Adams or elk hair caddis) as a bobber with a hook in it.  My money fly would be a #16 or 18 tungsten beaded pheasant tail, hares ear,  or Frenchie 18 inches below that dry.

GA Public Waters:

RonW: “Our Trio fished Smithgall Woods on 12-5.  We started the day with Kurt having a boot blowout on the cable lace on his boots breaking. We were as far away from the truck as you can be so we needed to "McGyver" something and fast. Its a good thing Moe had some 10lb amnesia in his pack, which worked nicely as a lace substitution in a pinch. Problem solved...let's fish! 

The creek was super-low and clear which made for some tough fishing conditions. A stealthly approach combined with tiny naturals and a perfect drift was the ticket to getting bit throughout the day.  We landed several nice fish in the 16-22" range and plenty of little wild rainbows that filled in the gaps between larger fish. 

I had a chance at a really nice rainbow I spotted from high up on the creek bank which turned out to be two really nice fish. "Look, that gray rock has fins"   I climbed down there and got into position. My 1st cast was 2' to the right. My 2nd cast was right down main street. The bigger of the fish ate and I got tight on him for a NY minute until he tail thrusted upstream and the fly popped out. After that, the 2nd fish had zero appetite so we moved on to find new candidates. 

The highlight of the day was Kurt getting busted off by goodun' after a 2 minute battle in a hole we have named "Ron's Hole.” Moe lands that same fish about an hour later and by himself...not knowing that Kurt had tangled with and lost a fish in the same run earlier. We had a laugh, Kurt got to see the fish he lost in a picture thanks to Moe,  and he got his fly back.

We ran into friends Marcus and Channing , who both had a great day as well with several nice fish each to the net. Another fantastic day on the water it was! “

Chattooga DH:

Dredger had a 12/5 river reunion with his Yellowstone buddy, Athens Alan.  They compared notes when they recognized each on the upper end around 3pm.  Indeed, both had to skip the shallows to find fish, and both had a bit of luck on dry/dropper combos. It was a pot luck Sunday dinner with fly patterns: half of the chunky rainbows ate the dries (Oct caddis, purple haze, PMD) and half ate the wets, with a beaded prince producing well. Water temp 50 at Dredger’s noon start.

RonW’s trouting sidekick, Moe:

“Hey Jeff!  Fished the Tooga  DH with Kurt today (9th). Chilly and blustery day. We had the river to ourselves. Only saw one other angler all day.  Fish were glued to the bottom, as expected, but it didn't take too long to figure them out. Slow deep drifts with a heavy hare’s ear nymph and a dropper egg produced plenty of rainbows most of the day. 

A few small browns came to hand but no brookies this time. Fish have wisened up as they mostly ate the small nymphs,  with only a handful caught on junk flies. 

Nothing in the shallows for us, either. Deeper pools and runs produced. Definitely a different river today than a month ago, when it had water.”

Metro Hooch:

Our good metro friend, Splatek, finally filled his freezer with bear and venison. He’s picked up the fishing pole once again and checked in with this ATL report:

“I hit the Hooch Tailwater briefly this week and picked  up a few bows and browns in about an hour. I had to go super/small (20-22) with a midge. Either drab coloring or the tiniest hot spot was getting them. I also had to Euronymph (no indicator) to really slow the flies down. They were hugging the bottom after the release.”

NC waters:

Dredger wandered up to Nan DH last Friday (3rd) in search of surface lookers and was rewarded. He had steady action all afternoon. He posted a riser video on UO social media that evening. Wild bows and some stockers liked his double dry combo (Oct caddis and BWO) while the sun was high. When the bugs left around 3, his zebra midge dropper was the ticket. At 4, wild fish retired, but stocker bows and browns still ate junk flies (eggs, leech) til 5.  He had to hunt for water depth to find the day’s cooperators.


Yesterday (9th) he traveled to the Smokies and saw many more elk (60) than fish. Water temp at his 1PM start was 44.  More river rocks were dry than wet!  His favorite spring pockets were too thin to hold fish, and he likely spooked any that might have been there. His Euro rig worked best in the few deep pools. 

His humility trip netted about a hal-dozen bows and browns, with nothing over 7 inches. Most hit the #18 hares ear and maybe two ate the anchor, a #12 sexy walts worm.

He had one hit in his last hour of desperation before admitting defeat at 5. And still enjoying a nice day in the national park, with the river and elk herd to himself!

Private Waters:

UO guide Isreal had a good Nacoochee Bend trip with clients this week. He said the water is still low and clear, so his best recipe was small nymphs on light (5X) tippet, fished near the bottom in the deeper runs and pools. Small pheasant tails, midges, and hares ears drew the most strikes.”

UO Friend RodneyT:

“Sunday, Students from the North Paulding High School's Fly Fishing and Cold-Water Conservation Club ventured north to the mountain hamlet of Helen, where students tested their angling skills with the educated trophy trout on Unicoi Outfitters fabled Nacoochee Bend. The young fishermen and fisher ladies were able to use the skills they had been practicing since mid-September. The club members were assisted by Trout Unlimited Volunteers from the Cohutta TU Chapter, which meets on the 4th Tuesday of every month at Hudson's Grill in Kennesaw Georgia. Everyone had a great time as we nurtured the next generation of angler-conservationists”

Flat Water:

HenryC and UO owner Jimmy gave Lanier a shot on Wednesday (8th).  Fishing was great, but catching was tough, with only a couple spots hooked.  Surface schools were few, far between, and up for just a few seconds.  They shared this advice for fly anglers:  

Bring a spinning rod, too!!!

“Spots on Lanier have been on fire this past week. Unfortunately, for fly anglers they’re too deep.  A spinning rod with some heavy jigs and spoons can get down to the deep bait schools and the spots and stripers chasing them.”

For more deep-water intel, check out the Friday reports from  Lanier’s ole reliable, our friend Capt. Mack:


Breaking news: Henry just texted me some pics and a tally: 2 stripers and a spot from Lanier this foggy morning (10th).  He said the fish are finally moving into the creek arms, in the cove pockets about halfway back. He said the loons put him on today’s fish!  It was a fun 10-minute spree.


UO buddy Landon:

“I had a decent bass bite at Dahlonega Reservoir while walking my dogs the other day. Transition zones next to ledges were the key. Light line/ long casts  with rattle trap style were the ticket in the cool water.”

Good deeds:

Athens Jay gave up his angling Saturday to lead and labor on the Crayfish Creek stream restoration project in metro ATL.  Kudos to Jay and the entire volunteer gang. Enjoy his pic and the project:


Good luck this week. Be safe while tomorrow’s storm front passes, get your holiday shopping done, and then play hooky on a warm day next week. Keep our two stores in mind during your holiday shopping circuits.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

No comments:

Post a Comment