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 4, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 2/4/22

This week’s theme is “launch the ark!” Yesterday’s 7 inches of rain have our region streams high and roaring right now.  

At least they are a bit warmer due to the warm precip.   Smaller streams will be fishable in a day or two, while the bigger rivers will take longer to shed all of that rainfall and runoff. Just be ready for another big chill tonite that will drop water temps again. At least it’s looking promising for next week, as we dry out and warm back into the 50’s.

My mid-morning recon today (2/4) showed the Hooch in Helen roaring and unfishable. Smith DH was high, 49F, with maybe 2 feet of visibility. An angler trio was fishing from or right next to the bank, and tossing into soft eddies. Hooch tribs Dukes and Spoilcane were high and ripping, 53F, with maybe 2 feet of vis.

Watch the USGS streamflow gauges, know your own safe wading levels, and go when it is safe again. Or stay on the bank until those flows drop some more.  Use bigger/brighter bugs in high, discolored flows and scale back down when flows drop and clarity increases.

HenryC says Lanier is slowly stirring. Spots are still a best bet, as stripers remain on deep bait. See his report for details. He put three real gooduns in the boat yesterday.

The good news is that this rain has recharged our streams, which were pitifully low. If we can get smaller, frequent storms, they would keep the flows up and the fishing better. We will see what February holds.

Check out our full report and Wes’ hot fly list on our website and Facebook page. Remember that all of these reports were pre-storm, so be ready to adapt your game to changing flows and water temps - which follow air temps.  Good luck and stay safe!

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: Griffiths Gnat, Parachute Adams, comparadun BWO.


High water: Squirminator, girdle bug, peach egg, mohair leech.

Clean flows: three dollar dip, RS2, sparkle soft hackle, gold ribbed hares ear, WD40.

Streamers & warm water:

Muddy buddy, triple double leech, jiggy craw.

GA public waters:

Smith DH:

Hillis Lanier posted a nice report in the Small Streams Forum on the North GA Trout Online ( NGTO) message board. 


You can view it by googling the site, choosing “message board” and then choosing “jump right in.”  The bottom line is that he had luck on a frosty afternoon by drifting black zebra midges on 7X tippet in the skinny water.

Chattooga DH

Sautee and Dredger gave it a shot last Tuesday. They hiked in, over all of the downed trees from the storm, and gave the upper end a try. Despite a decent water temp of 44, it was real slow. Sautee caught a couple bows on a small hares ear, while Dredger was completely hitless. The low river flow provided very little holding water for surviving DH stockers. Their advice: cover ground and only hit the deep pools. Better yet, go waaay upstream or somewhere else til this fishery improves with March rains and restocking.

Toccoa DH:

The RSquared report:

“Six hearty souls from the Trout Unlimited: Cohutta Chapter #242 braved icy roads & temperatures in the low 20’s to spend this past Saturday on the Toccoa River for January’s Stream of the Month (SOTM).  The water was cold and clear. The trout were cold and lethargic. However, we had a great riverside meal of hotdogs and home-made chili and a roaring fire where fishing tales from more favorable times were told. We have a chapter trip every month. Come join us. Check out our website at tucohutta.org Rodney”

Hooch Tailwater:

UO teammate Grant checked in:

“I had a great day on the tailwater going after some wild browns. The fish were eating egg patterns, and some fish were taking some small, natural bugs. The biggest fish of the day was caught on a size 14 egg pattern with a 4.0 copper bead. I caught about 27 fish, but this one was my favorite. I came up on a deep hole next to a log jam while I was euronymphing. I made a tuck cast in between two logs that were down in the water, and I watched my sighter get tight midway through the drift. I set this hook and was able to get some great pictures of this fish! “

NC Waters:

Tuck DH:

UO friend RayV gave us a Tuckaseegee DH report:

“In NC I have lately only fished the Dillsboro DH Tuck and done well using #10 green Woolly Buggers and Black Pat’s or Girdle bugs trailed with micro peach or pink egg.”

Nan DH:

After an hour of futile web searches, Dredger wrote Duke Power Company about the high flows through the Nan DH river channel. He awaits the company’s response to his email.

Private Waters:

UO friends Ray and Kevin hit Nacoochee Bend last week.  Ray said: “Kevin and I fished the Bend on a chilly Monday and had a big time.  Mostly #18 and smaller soft hackles were most productive. We caught 15-20 fish with a few nice ones.”

Flat Water:

HenryC said:

“Lanier seems to be fishing a tad better these days. Here's the skinny...the spotted bass are fishing okay.  You can find them in coves and on points . Sinking lines are the ticket to these fish using either somethin else or coyote flies. The stripers are another story altogether. In order to get the stripers to eat you need to look for schools of deep fish and throw sinking lines to them. The key to this bite is to fish the best moon phase. That's when the action occurs. Here's a screen shot from yesterday... I had a good day, with three fish in the ten-pound range boated.”



UO Helen manager Wes reported on his trio’s recent road trip “somewhere up north:”

“Israel, Jackson and I got away last weekend for a southern musky trip. Day one was brutal cold: 18 degrees when we got to the boat ramp and the high was only 31 degrees. We had ice in the rod guides all day but we toughed it out.  The team adapted our tactics to the conditions and moved a couple of fish.  We got a 36-incher to the net that afternoon!

We went and explored some new water on day two and saw some awesome scenery,  but didn’t encounter any fish. On day three we moved quite a few fish and we were able to net another thick and healthy musky. It was about 40-41 inches!

After several years of putting our time in, Jackson and I are getting a feel of where the fish are holding at certain times of the year and how to present our patterns and successfully hook and land fish. Most of the time musky fly fishing is SLOW and you wonder why you are doing it! But when you start to figure out a few pieces of the puzzle, all of that casting begins to pay off in one or more of these true trophies.”

That’s the latest from the soggy slopes of northeast Georgia.   Remember to check the flows before you go. Call or come by the shop for your post-flood intel and supplies. Good luck, folks. 

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

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