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, February 25, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 2/25/22

The weather and water conditions are lining up to give y’all a great fishing week ahead. Just remember to bring your raincoat. Dust off your dry fly boxes and put them back in your vest,  in case you stumble on to an early hatch or two, like caddis on the tailwaters.

Stripers are finally  starting to show in the reservoir shallows, according to HenryC. Pond bream and bass are also sliding up to the warmer shallows of mid-Georgia ponds.

You have a lot to choose from, so take your pick for the week ahead. The angler reports on this report’s long version, posted on our Facebook page and home page can help your decision process. Good luck!

Wes’ Hot Fly List

Dries: Parchute Adams, stimulator, elk hair caddis.


Mighty may sloan baetis, Skwala stone, micro egg, depth charge caddis, micro mayfly.

Streamers & warm water:

Sparkle minnow, triple double rainbow, finesse changer. Sweet baby cray

Public Waters:

DH Streams:

No recent reports received  on our Delayed Harvest waters. They should fish well after their early Feb restocking and scattering of those stocker pods by recent high flows. Try an attractor fly (egg, squirmy, pats rubberlegs) as your first fly and drop a small dark wet or nymph off the back for the smarter residents. With more moderate air temps, you can try fishing early or late to avoid the weekend crowds on popular streams.


Landon hit Smithgall Woods on Wednesday, right after the rain, and scored well:

“I put 26 in the net in 5 hrs. The Water cleared up quickly and I had to change flies a bunch to keep up with conditions.  I started with a big pats/ big pink san juan when it was up and ripping. Then I changed to a Leech/ small shell pink San Juan combo as it started clearing. Finally, I switched to a Small san juan/ soft hackle hares ear combo once it cleared.”



Remember the Toccoa Tailwater caddis hatch. We shared Joe’s video on our social media sites this week. Maybe you can catch a break in TVA dam discharges this week and catch some early spring surface action.

TVA Lake Info App



UO friend RonW: “ Kurt, Moe and. I fished below Buford Dam Sunday  for about 4 hours. I committed to throwing streamers all day again. The 6wt with sinktip gave me a workout in that 7-10mph+ wind.  I managed 2 nice browns to hand, one on a white bait fish pattern and one on an olive sex dungeon.  All in all, I'd consider a couple wild browns and some time on the water with some great friends a win. I definitely got some much needed hydrotherapy today.”

Private Waters:

UO client Tyler: “ I had a great time getting to fish the Bend yesterday! Thank you for having me.”

UO client Zack: “Hey y’all just wanted to let you know that Sunday’s bite was on fire. Our trio caught quite a bit of fish and managed to land some absolute studs. I mainly used a peach egg,  France fly, sexy walts, Duracell,  and squirmmy worm in a glow mint green color. I think Tyler used a cheese egg pattern with sexy walts worm with CDC as a dropper. Hugh used the same with a perdigon dropper.”

UO client Brad:  “Here are some pics from Monday. Great day on the water with UO guides Chuck and George!”

UO guide Coach Mac:

“My father-son client duo had a great Tuesday  at the Bend. Most fish caught on small eggs and nymphs fished deep.”

UO manager Jake:

“I hosted two great trips this week.  My clients fished at Nacoochee Bend on Saturday as the high water was receding, and absolutely hammered them. During our half day, we stuck about 50 fish between the two angers, with numerous doubles and some really quality fish. Most of our fish came on small eggs, trailed with flashy nymphs and blow torches. Once again, the key to success was getting the flies down to the fish, often times needing three BB shot.

At Noontootla Creek Farms on Monday, the water was still up in flow, but was back to running clear. We had a great day catching rainbows of all sizes, and even had a kicker brown to the net. Most of our success came on similar bugs to Nacoochee, but the key was dropping down in tippet size to 6x to get the bite with the clear water.” 

Flat Water:

Henry C:  “Striper fishing on Lake Lanier is finally turning the corner. The past 3 weeks we are starting to see fish moving up into the water column. We aren't anywhere where we want to be but we are far better off then we were 4 weeks ago. You must pick your days and weather patterns to be successful. Fish are both deep and shallow  but are moving quick. Windows of opportunity are often short lived but going out and catching a few is becoming a more regular occurrence. This should only improve and by mid March we should be in full spring mode. Somethin else, game-changers Clousers and Coyotes are your best flies. Had a 10 fish day last week when it all came together with winds, moon phase and weather pattern...”


Athens Jay: “My local pond bream are moving into shallow water and eating Pat’s Rubberlegs.”

Bassin’ fans might enjoy the upcoming Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell. This “super bowl of bass fishing” on March 4-6 hosts the country’s top professionals.  More info here:



UO guide Israel took some time off to fish warm, salty seas with friends. He checked in:

“The fishing has been tough. Been getting only 1 maybe 2 shots at Permit each day.  But we’ve done really well on the Bonefish. A Spawning Shrimp fly on the reef flats has been the ticket.”

That’s the latest intel from our UO clan and fans.  The week ahead looks good for wetting a line on lake or stream.  Your biggest challenge will be choosing your destination from the long menu at hand.  Keep our clothing sales at both UO stores in mind, too.  Good luck!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 2/18/22

We had 1.5 to 2.5 inches of rain last night, and area streams are running off quickly. Today’s 10AM recon showed that our White County streams  were a bit high, but not muddy, and dropping quickly. The Hooch in town, Smith DH, and two higher Hooch tribs all had about 3 feet of visibility and ran ten degrees warmer than the 40 degree air, which felt even chillier with the wind.

Small streams are fishable now, while the bigger ones or any that got 2.5 inches of rain will take a day or two to drop to safer levels. Watch those USGS gauges! GA and SC DNR’s stocked their DH waters last week, but those naive fish got some heavy angling pressure and will smarten up quickly.  To hedge your bet, try a small natural dropper (hares ear, pheasant tail, WD40) behind your junk fly (squirmy or Y2K).

This week’s key word is “adaptation.” Anglers who adapt their flies and techniques to the situation at hand will score highest. Watch water temps, flows, and the aquatic habitat at your rod tip for clues on what to do.   And keep changing -adapting- as needed. Examples: 1) clearing water means smaller bugs than the big, bright or ugly ones thrown into YooHoo.   Pool depth dictates strike indicator height on your leader. Try an Airlock brand indi for quick adjustments as you pool-hop. Then add or subtract split shot as needed to drift your nymphs along the bottom.

On the lakes, adjust to the prey and predators in terms of depth, bait size, and retrieve speed. Find some warmer water where stained tributary inflows will now absorb the afternoon sunshine.

As the weather and water bounce around in the week ahead, adjust to them. And you’ll enjoy the success that our reporters did last week. Their stories follow on our extended fishing report at unicoioutfitters.com and on our Facebook page. Good luck, and don’t forget Wes’ hot fly list!

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: Griffiths Gnat, Parachute Adams, Stimulator.


Simi seal leech, squirminator, fire egg, duracell, diamond and root beer midges, bird of prey, pats rubberlegs.

Streamers & warm water:

Muddy buddy, bank robber sculpin, polar changer.

GA public waters:

Smith DH:

As expected, the fresh stockers attracted crowds and produced some high catch rates. Even this morning, there were already about 8 cars in the parking lot. Try fishing early or late to avoid those crowds, and use some patterns that those fish haven’t seen yet. Older stockers will still have a taste for midges.  Match your tippet to water clarity.

Toccoa DH:

RSquared (Rodney) checked in: “Steve W. & I hit the Toccoa DH Thursday before the heavy rains moved in. The water was a little fast even for experienced waders but the fish were willing if you could get your small black stonefly or  Y2K down to bottom of the stream. Predicted heavy rains tonight will increase flows to dangerous levels for the next several days!” Join their crew and get adopted!

Cohutta Chapter #242 Trout Unlimited

Chattooga DH:

Internet reports showed improved angler success with SC’s recent stocking, combined with some better streamflows. Hopefully the stockers will get scattered and improve catch rates over that entire DH section. Be careful wading in that big water for the next few days. If water temps push 50, try chucking a streamer on a sink tip, or poly leader looped to your floating line. 


Hooch Tailwater:

No recent reports. Heavy rains up here in the mountains often mean heavy releases from Buford Dam. For Tailwater news, watch Devin Lancaster’s weekly video reports on the Orvis-Alpharetta store’s Instagram page.



Dredger ran up to the Smokies right after posting last week’s report. What a difference some improved streamflow makes! The higher water and better flows had potbellied bows in a good mood.

He took a “lesson from Landon” (see last week’s report) and dredged the deep pools. He did try deeper runs and pockets with his Euro rig, with very limited success. But the biggest pools had the most cooperative fish, and he fondled about a dozen 7-9 inch wild bows and three small browns on his afternoon adventure. Biggest was a 13 inch bow that jumped about three feet in the air. It was likely a tourist from downstream waters.

Best bugs were pats rubberlegs, small hares ears, and WD40’s, in that order. The bugs were secondary to his technique: he added shot and an airlock indicator to his rig for longer drifts through the pools. He probably did more adjusting than casting to stay in the game: indi depth, number of shot, and fly selection. But the constant tinkering paid off. Half the pools were homers and half were strikeouts, so it paid to pool-hop.

Little black stones and BWO’s constantly buzzed the surface, but he saw no risers in the 44F water.  A gobbler’s coast just over the river and a big elk herd at his park exit  were nice ways to end the day.

Private Waters:

Private waters fished great last week. We hope you enjoyed Marcus’ midweek report and pics. And we have a few more fresh ones to share!

UO Helen shop manager Wes:

“I did a trip this week on The Bend with Alex. Overall we had a productive day. The best nymphs were CDC pheasant tails and midges. We also caught a few of the biggest fish of the day on streamers.”

UO guide Israel:

“The Bend continues to produce well for my clients. Root beer midges seem to be the hot ticket right now.”

UO company manager Jake:

I fished Rainbow Point on the Soque this week with repeat customers, Julia and Mark. We had a good day dredging small eggs, rootbeer & ruby midges, and little black stones. The water is still slightly up from recent rains compared to a few weeks ago, but still fairly clear. Lighter tippet and plenty of weight were the keys to getting strikes.”

Flat Water:

UO owner Jimmy: “Fishing for stripers on Lake Lanier continues to be frustrating if you're chasing them with a fly.  They're either too deep or difficult to find so try making lemonade out of lemons.  Remember the Boy Scout motto?  "Be Prepared".  Late yesterday afternoon we had about as much fun as you can have fishing.  No stripers but we did find schools of spotted bass running up and down a small cove off the main creek throwing shad in the air and, generally, wreaking havoc on bait balls.  And it was all happening near the surface.  Clousers and Cowen's Coyotes were deadly.  Look for water that is warmer than the main lake and try to fish early in the morning or late afternoon.  Oh yeah, and for maximum fun, have a 7 weight rod with an intermediate line in your boat.”

Athens Jay wet a line and said: “Bass fishing is picking up in Piedmont small impoundments. Fish are not hitting aggressively; you have to feed them on the bottom. I found several fish in about 3-4 feet of water. Detecting the strike was really tricky, it was Zen Fly Fishing. Weighted black streamers and Rubberlegs in blurple (black and purple) worked best. “

That’s the latest from our UO clan. The sun is out and the winds and streamflows are receding as I wrap this up at 1PM. Take advantage of a good-looking weekend ahead and wet a line. Watch those changing conditions in the coming days and adapt to them to make yourselves some great memories. Call, stop in, or ring us online if we can aid with your adaptions.  Good luck!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Amicalola Intro

If you’ve thought about giving the Amicalola Creek Delayed Harvest fishery a shot, then take a look at Jimmy Jacobs’ article in the latest edition of his free, online magazine, On The Fly South.


You can also “net” an online map of this stream reach at GAWRD’s trout fishing page. Scroll down to Special Regs and click on Ami.


Be careful, as a decent rain will quickly raise the Ami’s flow to unsafe wading conditions and muddy it up. But keep an eye out for the early spring caddis hatch and carry some gray bugs in sizes 14 to 18 with you next month.

Good luck exploring some new trout waters this spring. Call or come by our Helen shop if you’d like a more little help with “Trout Waze” this spring.

2022 Trout Unlimited Dream Trip

Purchase a minimum of five Dream Trip tickets through the Georgia Foothills chapter and receive a free one year membership in Trout Unlimited courtesy of Unicoi Outfitters. We have 19 memberships available to give away, and when they're gone - they're gone! Not valid for renewals, but you can give the membership to a friend or family member.
Once you have purchased your Dream Trip tickets, email us with a screen shot showing your purchase receipt, and we will get the info we need from you for the free membership.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 2/11/22

The warm, dry week gave us dropping flood flows and rising water temperatures: a perfect combo for trouting. Folks who were able to get out were glad they did. Deep nymphing worked well, since better flows made stream trout more comfortable and eager to feed.

Lanier is still slow on shallow stripers, but good for bass. Henry gives y’all the skinny in our full report on the UO home  and Facebook pages.

We have some yo-yo’ing air temps in the week ahead. Hit an upswing, when the air warms the trout streams toward 50F, and you’ll have some fun.  From rainbows to spots to the Super Bowl, it should be a super week. Call or come by either UO store if we can help you out.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: Griffiths Gnat, Parachute Adams, comparadun BWO.


Mini leech, girdle bug, three dollar dip, trout crack, jigged CDC pheasant tail, black and olive WD40’s.

Streamers & warm water:

Sparkle minnow, dungeon, micro changer

GA public waters:

Smith DH:

Smith ran a bit high and slightly off color to start the week. Flows then dropped slightly and the water cleared. Mops did well in the cloudy water, while midges were hot throughout the week.  Make sure to bring some WD40’s and enjoy the better flows.

Chattooga DH:

Our awesome agencies cut more than 25 trees out of the GA access road, so fans of the upper end will have an easier hike in. Many thanks to sawyers with SCDNR, GADNR, and the US Forest Service. And a little birdie told me it may fish better in the days ahead, so pack some squirmies, eggs, and buggers along with the small, dark nymphs of your winter success.

Flows are still running about 2.2 on the Clayton gauge, which is still a bit high. Know your own safe wading limit (check your smart phone notes page for your past trip notes).  Use a wading belt, a staff, and a fishing buddy, along with your intellect, to have a safe day on bigger waters like the Chattooga. Remember that dry change of clothes in your car, too.

Hooch Tailwater:

UO friend Mo:

“Hey Jeff, I hope you’re doing well. Here’s a little fodder from the tailwater over the weekend. 

We started about 10am just below Lower Pool and worked our way upstream with Euro rigs. Ron was throwing a streamer all day and managed a few fish to hand. 

Kurt and I were catching the wild browns on tiny stuff, 24-20 midges and frenchies. A few rainbows also came to hand on the same flies. Nothing bigger than a foot but they sure were pretty fish. 

It was a sunny but chilly and blustery day with higher winds making the whole affair little more challenging. Tough conditions but 

the fish cooperated most of the day. Had to be on the bottom tho, in their lane with perfect drift. 

We walked off the river thoroughly chilled but happy with fishing and catching. With everything else blown out curtesy of the pre-weekend rain, it felt good to have a fishable stream nearby.”

And his accomplice, Ron W:

“I committed to throwing streamers all day. I had several chases but only 2 to hand, a nice chunky bow and a colored up wild brown. My new position at work has doubled my workload and is eating into my fishing time!”

PS: we had a report of the annual Shad/blueback winterkill. If you want a shot at a trophy Tailwater brown, it will be a good time to Chuck big, white zonkers in the upper Tailwater.


Landon ran up to tribal waters and reported: “My 7-month trout hiatus has ended!  Flows were still pretty high, so I cherry picked the easiest access pools for safety's sake. Fish were fickle until the afternoon sun turned em on! Tan mop with a trailer of a small cdc soft hackle on a jig hook were ticket. I used a long, thin leader to get down and a  big 3/0 shot when necessary in the real big pools. I even found a couple of bigger wild rainbows in this stretch. Alas, the browns eluded me.”

Private Waters:

Once flows receded to safe levels, our clients have been hammering the trout on warm afternoons. The better flow and deeper water have the fish much less skittish and wiling to eat. Small nymphs, both beaded and beadless, have been the ticket. Small dark soft hackles are always a good bet, too.  Just sink everything toward the bottom. During my brief stop yesterday  evening, I watched two Nacoochee Bend anglers hook up together, twice!

Flat Water:

HenryC said:

“Fishing is still relatively slow. BUT this is February and it's supposed to be slow if we look at how Lanier has fished the past 15 years. There is however a way to go out and fly fish Lanier with low expectations and still make lemonade out of lemons. First, fish on the moons (both new and full). 3-5 days before up to 3 days after. Second, fish early or late. Most feeding will be done in lower light conditions. Third, if you want to get a tug on your line then maybe concentrate on bass (both spotted bass and largemouth). There is always a decent bass bite in February if you want to toss sinking lines. The stripers are still deep so this is another option. 

If however you’re wanting to catch a winter striper then you must cast small flies, sinking lines and use your fish finder to locate big schools of fish in the 20'-30' range and count your line down 40 to 50 seconds before retrieving.”


That’s the latest from the warm, sunny skies of northeast Georgia.  Take advantage of one of the beautiful days ahead to wet a line. In fact, I’m going to take my own advice - right now.  Time to load the truck and go!  Good luck on your own adventures this week, folks. Bye!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Better Than The Groundhog

Here’s an early heads-up for the end of the month. Whether you tie or buy, stock up now. Carry some little black (#16, 18) and gray (#14-18) caddis patterns with you at the end of the month, especially on the warmer tailwaters.  A UO teammate shot this video downstream of trout waters last week. It gives us more hope than the groundhog that spring is around the corner!

Special thanks to our friends at the Blairsville TU chapter.  Check out the monthly hatch charts on their website and consider joining that fun bunch of trout anglers.


Stop by either UO store if we can help you stock up with spring supplies.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Warning: High Flows Through Nantahala DH

Pic from a winter trip two years ago)

Many thanks to fellow fly fisher Eric, who read yesterday’s fishing report that noted high flows through the Nantahala River’s Delayed Harvest reach. He directed us to information posted by Duke Energy on its lake levels - Nantahala Lake page. It looks like we may be seeing very high flows in the DH reach through Feb 21. Wading is unsafe.

Here is the link to the lake details page:


And a good phone number to save for your future checks of Duke’s reservoir flow releases: 800-829-5253.

Thanks again, Eric. We will head elsewhere.  You’ll save us some valuable fuel and recreation time!