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, January 21, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 1/21/22

Nora Mill Dam photo credit: “Sautee”

Come, join us on our sleigh ride into the “dead of winter.” The next six weeks can be as slow and inhospitable for GA trout fishing fans as the dog days of summer are. But there is hope for the dedicated few who venture forth on these chilly days. Read on and learn of the two keys to winter trouting success.

Before going forward, we want to be honest: this is a real tough time for rookie soloists. The combo of 1) cold weather, 2) icy water, and 3) sluggish fish can really turn off new flyfishers. They will enjoy this sport much more if they wait for spring or, better yet, take our following advice.

The two keys to winter success are 1) follow the sun and 2) go with a pro.  First, follow the sun’s warmth and fish during middays, when you can feel your fingers and toes. Watch the USGS stream gauges for those midday water temp spikes, when fish will be most active.

Second, go with a pro. Buddy-up to a veteran angler with winter experience.  They can be friends from your Facebook group or Trout Unlimited chapter (aka “free fishing guides”). Or you can cash in that holiday gift certificate and take a trip with a professional flyfishing guide. At this time of year, their knowledge and experience are priceless and will save you from going fishless. That intel will carry over to the rest of your flyfishing career, too.

For this week, think small, low, and slow. Use small, natural bugs on light tippet, get them deep, and drift them slowly through pools and runs to find some subtle strikes. Hooksets are free, so use them on any twitch or hesitation of your sighter or indicator.

The system works, as you can see in our extended version of this report at unicoioutfitters.com. 

Good luck. Dress warmly, wait out the morning black ice, buddy-up with a vet, and enjoy a great cure for cabin fever.

We’d like to welcome a few more friends to our short list of UO angling addicts. Our friends gang’s reports and pics really add to our guide intel and give all of you the details you need for weekend success. Thank you, newcomers Rodney and Marcus!

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: Parachute Adams, cream midge.

Nymphs: black copper John, Zebra midge, WD-40, sparkle soft hackle, hare & copper, peach egg.

Streamers & warm water:

Sparkle minnow, clouser minnow, micro changer.

GA public waters:


We welcome RodneyT to our reporter team. Rodney just Retired, so we’re relabeling his handle as “RSquared.”  ATL westsiders take note.! You can find him and his fellow angling addicts at the Cohutta TU chapter. 


He reports:

“Low, clear, cold water in our National Forest is causing the wild trout to hug the bottom. Pheasant Tails, Frenchie’s, & Prince Nymph’s tied on jig hooks w/ tungsten beads & dragged along the bottom without an indicator have been working on wild rainbows & Brookies this past week.  It’s not hot action, but we’re catching enough to keep us focused.”


RonW: “Dukes served us up a nice slice of humble pie today (1/9)!Apparently they don't eat San Juans or squirmys in the rain anymore.Let me rephrase....they won't eat my San Juan. Made 20+ drifts at the road hole and nothing....Moe steps in and gets connected on the 1st cast with the San Juan. Creek was starting to color up when we left around 2. 

Don't know if you've been there in a while but there must have been a microburst that came through. There are large hemlocks and other tress  everywhere that are snapped in half, some a few feet off the ground and some  20 ft off the ground. Looks a tornado came thru there, so be careful. Hopefully some of those trees will drop into the creek and make some fine, new trout habitat.”

Smith DH:

See the Marcus report, below.

Dredger got his chores done in time Wednesday (19th) to spend the last three hours of daylight at Smith DH, running a chilly 42 F at 3PM. It was still over forty, so he had some hope along the melting snow banks.  

Alas, he had nary a strike on the first half of his trip. Frenchie, squirmy, egg, Walts- nuthin’ on his first dozen bugs thrown!

Til he found what they wanted: a #18 hares ear on 6x tippet, dropped closely off the back of his heavier anchor fly. The handful of fat, lively bows saved the trip and helped him to save face.

Near dusk he ran into an old friend, Dennis, the Smith Creek Sage.  Ole Lefty said he’s been having luck this month on the tiny stuff: size 20-24 gray and black midge larvae and pupae. He said he even caught some on midge dries during sunny afternoons. He had over a dozen to hand that afternoon. You can take his intel to the bank!

Chattooga DH:

Sautee took a return trip with a new buddy late last week. He said the fishing was nice, but the catching was fairly slow. He caught a few rainbows again on his brown squirmy, hares ear soft hackle combo. Highlight of the day was his spinfishing buddy Scott’s 22-inch, Kyle-jawed rainbow that nailed his rooster tail.


UO friend Marcus: “Channing and I drove up to WNC in the hopes of getting snowed in. We fished the Nanty DH Saturday only to learn they are "bypassing" as the kayakers said. We managed to double up on brookies and swing a few rainbows to the net in the raging flow.

Sunday we stayed near the cabin and waited for the rain to turn to snow. We fished the creek behind the cabin, and hopped in the truck to hit some different public accesses to that same creek. We found some beautiful wild rainbows, with some of the larger ones pushing 14". Snow came in hard Sunday evening, thus giving us our snow day! 

We played hooky Monday and took our time getting back home. We still had the itch, so we hit Smith DH. Fishing was tough, as the snowy banks had the fish spooked something proper. But we still landed a few.

We had a blast in the snow and rain, catching some great fish, all while staying safe. Couldn't be more thankful! Cheers from Marcus and Chan!”

Private Waters:

UO Helen manager Wes:

“The bend fished well this week after the snowstorm. The key right now with the cool water temperatures is depth. Ensure you have enough weight to get down near the bottom. Eggs, small stoneflies, and midges have been the best producers.”

Awesome UO Guides Stefan and Como:  “We teamed up on a multi-client trip this week. It was cold, but the fish were eating! Hot flies varied but junk patterns, midges, small bwo’s, and Euro jig streamers  worked best.  Client Rick got a really nice rainbow to top the day. Our party probably landed about 40 fish.”

UO company manager Jake is at The Bend right now (2pm Friday) guiding a client. He had a few seconds to text me a pic of a whopper rainbow they just landed.  Enjoy.

Flat Water:

This just in from HenryC:

“There may be a little better fishing in the PM and especially at last light on Lanier. Other than that, bass can be caught on points using sinking lines and small coyotes. They're not in 2' of water but you can see them chasing bait some in 5-10' of water.”


Capt Mack should have a new Lanier report posted soon. Whether you’re tossing flies, bait, or lures, this Lanier veteran’s intel on prey/predator whereabouts is always solid:


Good luck, folks. Dress warmly, enjoy a big breakfast while the black ice thaws, and meet your expert winter fishing guide astream as the sun shines. We’re still a lot warmer than Wyoming, right?  Follow the sun, go with a pro, and send us your pics!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

No comments:

Post a Comment