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, January 13, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 1/13/22

This week we should “work around the weather.”  Avoid the pending snow/ice storm, be careful on the roads, and go deep and slow on these streams with your popular winter patterns. Unless you spot some risers!  Carry some little black winter stoneflies, blue wing olives, and midges in case you’re lucky enough to toss some dries. Bring a handwarmer to aid the tie-on of tiny bugs.

Public waters rated fair to good last week, while our private waters still fished really well as stormflows receded. Dress in your winter garb, wade slowly and carefully, and make sure you carry a dry change of clothes in case of a misstep. Crowds are down, so enjoy much more water to yourselves.

Wes’ hot fly list and our reports and tips follow on our long version. Catch it on Facebook or by clicking “fishing reports” at unicoioutfitters.com.

Stay safe this week, given the expected storm that might start on Saturday night. Check both road and stream conditions before you come up.  There are some real curvy, shady routes to our favorite waters that may retain some ice longer or surprise you with a downed tree, so be careful on your drives for a couple days after the storm.  

Good luck.  Wes’ hot fly list and our reports and tips are in our long version of this report. Catch it on Facebook or by clicking “fishing reports” at unicoioutfitters.com.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: Griffith’s gnat, little black stonefly (or small gray elk hair caddis), comparadun BWO.

Nymphs: squirmy worm, pheasant tail, copper John (black), hares ear nymph and soft hackle, WD-40, rainbow warrior.

Streamers & warm water:

Bank robber sculpin, kreelex, micro changer, polar changer.

GA public waters:


RonW’s friend, Marcus had a great weekend and shared his stories. Here’s the first:

“Saturday (8th)- backcountry wild fish in sight for Channing and me.  Nice brisk morning hike in, then got a small fire going. It was cold, clear, plenty of sun with some residual snow in the shadows. We both got the job done with small #18-20 frenchies and heavy egg patterns. The fish were very spread out, only catching one or two out of the larger holes. All and all a great day in the NGA countryside!”

Smith DH:

John from ATL recently emailed our shop with a 12/30 fishing report. He had a great day on rainbows once he switched over to a Pat’s rubberlegs, and was thankful for that helpful intel in the UO fishing report. Thanks for your trip report, John!

Chattooga DH:

Sautee’s duo gave it a shot yesterday afternoon (1/12).   A departing angler said his morning was cold and slow, but still fun. He had landed just two rainbows on eggs. The duo hiked in with a glimmer of hope.

The water was an icy 39F upon their 1PM river entry.   Flows were good, the river was clear, and the afternoon fishing rated fair.  A lot of fish were hunkered down and refused many patterns. Sautee found a few honey holes and did well there, scoring a handful of bows and browns and brown and pink squirmies.  Accomplice lost one bow on an egg, caught one on a Frenchie, and finally fooled one more fish on top. He had picked a fight with a few sporadic risers that were gulping the occasional black winter stonefly that drifted by.

Despite the slow catch, they had the whole river to themselves and enjoyed their treatment for cabin fever.  That dose should hold them through this weekend’s storm. 

Private Waters:

Our private waters still fished really well for guided folks and our experienced, unguided guests. Here are the Day 2 results from Marcus: “Sunday- Channing and I got right back at it with a full day unguided reservation at the Unicoi Outfitters property. Water was up but nothing we couldn't handle, rain was in the forecast so it was time to get cracking. Channing started catching fish instantly at the "stadium" hole, and I wasn't far behind. We found early success on #16-12 buggy nymphs, eggs, and squirmys. Every hole below Nora Dam is holding large fish in great numbers. They kept us busy all morning long, with average fish ranging from 16-20" about 2-3lbs.  Some of the larger fish pushed 20"+ and  6lbs. 

As the rain persisted, so did we! Nearing lunch the nymph bite was slowing and rain picked up, so we chucked on some euro style jig streamers. That was the play of the day! We hooked so many studs that our arms got tired. 

We needed a break from the rain, and the army of fish. So we walked across the street to the village pizza joint for a hot meal and a dry-out on the heated patio. 

After lunch the onslaught of absolute footballs continued. We felt like we hooked every fish in the river. An absolute slay day! 

Streamers pictured are my custom ties, Channing loved the "blonde bomber". I found my luck on my sculp/craw pattern.

Cheers From Marcus and Channing “

Two unguided clients also had productive Bend trips. Jarrett from ATL found success on 1/7 by drifting squirmies and dark nymph droppers - deep. Jeff from ATL had a slow start on a cold 1/10, but a hot ending as the water warmed in the afternoon and the bows cooperated. His best bug was a small pheasant tail.

For more info on Nacoochee Bend reservations for guided and unguided trips, check out:


Or just call Wes or Israel at our shop.

Flat Water:

This just in from HenryC:

“Lanier is finally looking much more promising.  Surface temp is 52F, the birds are flying, and the fish getting higher in the water column. That's what I need to see!  Check out the pic of my Humminbird screen.”


Good luck, folks. Stay safe and don’t let the black ice catch you before you catch some icy winter trout. Call or come by either UO store for intel, supplies, or a thaw-out.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

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