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, December 16, 2021

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 12/16/21

Let’s call this week’s report “tread lightly.”  Last week’s rain has already run off toward the coast and we’ve returned to low, clear, and cool conditions. Our angling advice will resemble the tips we’ve shared over the last few weeks. Your best bets will be to bypass the shallows, hit the trail until you discover a drought refuge (deep pool or run), TREAD LIGHTLY to its edge, and drop some small bugs on light tippet into its depths.

You may also have an hour or two of dry fly action on warm afternoons before  the cool-down hits on Sunday, so watch for buzzing bugs and some slow risers in quiet eddies or bankside pockets. Hunt before you fish.

Strong evidence suggests that the GAWRD elves got an early start this  week. Watch their Friday fishing reports and trout stocking lists. You might see your favorite stream on it. In fact, Smith DH received finned gifts today. 

In those cases, dust off your junk flies, add some movement, and have fun educating the new arrivals. They’ll smarten up and be more challenging right after Christmas.

TREAD LIGHTLY around polished gravels, too. Those washtub-sized patches of shiny rocks on stream bottoms are probably trout redds. Stay off them so the eggs can incubate in the clean water flowing through the loose gravels. Brooks and browns spawn in the fall, while past GA research shows that our bows can go from December to mid-March.  Their ancestors had hatchery origins, where temp and photoperiod were manipulated in broodstock barns so eggs were produced in any month needed.

(Sincerely, report author)

Most lake predators are still deep, but slowly coming into range. HenryC just called in his Lanier striper report that has great tips for your holiday success. Hint: “birdwatching.”

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.  Pay attention to Wes’ hot fly list today, and the “addendum” that we shared with you via yesterday’s social media post.

Good luck. Keep our Helen and Clarkesville stores and our online store in mind for your last minute shopping. Thanks very much for your patronage.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: parachute Adams, Griffith's gnat, parachute BWO, gray elk hair caddis (dry to float your dropper).

Nymphs: peach egg, hotspot jig girdle bug, squirmy worm, baetis perdigon, Bead head prince, pheasant tail, zebra and root beer midges, hares ear, and a Y2K for fresh stockers.

Streamers & warmwater:

Finesse changer, sparkle minnow, triple double rainbow, small black or olive wooly buggers or mohair leeches for fresh DH stockers.


No angler reports, but the high Hooch tribs looked real nice today during my county recon with fluffy daughter #2. They are still low and super-clear, but have great temps due to our warm spell. Spoilcane ran 53F at noon today.  Tread lightly upstream to a nice pool and toss that dry/dropper rig, quietly, with zero or one false casts.

Other GA Public Waters:

No recent reports from our UO bench. Web reports still show these streams fishing decently for experienced anglers. They’ll fish better if redosed, like Smith was today. I watched one angler land two in the five minutes I was there. Enjoy the pic/video. Smith was 51F at noon.


Smithgall fish are piled into the pools and very spooky. Bring your summer stealth game.  Don’t push a wake up to them.  Better yet, cast from the bank.  If it rains, bring 3x tippet, squirmies, and rubberleg stones.  Enjoy the pic/vid I shot today.

Chattooga- walk the trail, detour, and hit the pools. Try Euro or an Indi rig with an egg and then a small dark nymph dropper. There’s always a chance the Walhalla elves will visit, so strip and twitch small buggers if you spot truck tracks.


Check out Jimmy J’s brand new article:


WMA streams:

The drought will help you out!  Try the biggest streams in each of the WMA’s. The skinny water will force wild fish and scattered holdovers from summer stockings to congregate in the drought refuges. Cover some ground until you find a nice pool and dredge a double nymph rig.  And you’ll fish with no company, as summer stocker fans are long gone and current sportsmen and women will have a hiking staff or a gun instead of a rod in their hands.

Metro Hooch:

Splatek:  “The Hooch tailwater was hot again this week. I picked up about dozen and half in hour to ninety minutes. Deep and slow was the ticket, with the Euro technique or a trout magnet indicator equally effective. Hot flies for the day were a  frenchie and a dark caddis nymph.  I kept a few stocker rainbows for the smoker. The river is starting to clear, as Lanier turnover usually happens near Christmas.”

NC waters:

No recent reports, as most of our reporters evidently took the week off from fishing to prepare for the holidays.  Stream gauges show them running low and clear, too. Try Euro when it’s cold (mid 40’s) and some dry/dropper combos if the water temp noses up toward 50 or if noses poke through the surface foam.

Private Waters:

They’ve fished really well for our experienced guests with a good drift and for our new anglers with a good UO guide. 

UO’s special friend, Sylvia, and two accomplices gave Nacoochee Bend a post-storm shot last Sunday. She reports:

“The small post-storm surge at Nacoochee Bend in Helen was just enough to make for a great day of fishing on Sunday! The winning combo was fishing the deep pools and  the heads of deep runs. We used heavy split shot on our nymphing rigs with small midges in bright colors. Midges and anything with legs like a small Pat’s rubber legs worked great for me. Ian and Corey had great luck with egg patterns and droppers,  with a Zebra midge or a Copper John and split shot to get it down to the bottom. We landed several good size bows apiece which was a great way to end the weekend!

Anglers - Sylvia Huron, Ian Huron & Corey Brady”

Flat Water:

Henry just called in a report. He said Lanier is still slow on top, but continues to inch toward more consistent action. They key remains surface temperature. This week it’s at 56F, which is better than last week’s 58, but still short of the 52F that Hank consider the trigger for Lanier flyrodders.  

Stripers are scatted north to south, but are leaving the main lake for the coves and creek arms. Again, your best bet is a spinning rod and a spoon dropped 35-40 feet for the spots and stripers on deep bait.

But some fish are coming shallow, especially during the first hour of daylight and on overcast/rainy days. Cover some water and watch for stripers or loons busting bait in those cove pockets. And pray for a cold wave to get Lanier down to 52.


Good deeds:

Here’s a UO shout-out to our fine federal and state law enforcement personnel. In case you haven’t heard this story yet, here you go:


Good luck this week.   Keep our two stores in mind for your final stocking stuffers.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

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