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, March 18, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 3/18/22

Good news! Y’all have a great weekend ahead of you. We delayed this fishing report to count today’s raindrops and judge the weekend fishability of region waters. It looks like we’ll escape with only an inch or so of rain and some slight bumps in streamflows. Those stained stormflows will recede quickly.  On top of the positive fishing flows, y’all will have prime stream temperatures, too, as they hover in the mid-50’s. 

Lakes are warming, shad are swimming shallow, and more spots and stripers are within flyrodding range with each passing day.  A few stripers should start their spring romance runs up the rivers next week, too.  Peak densities will be found in the first two weeks of April, but eager males get some early head starts.  Add some nice air temps and you’ll complete the recipe for a fun weekend ahead.

Check those monthly hatch charts at the Rabun and Blairsville TU websites, review Wes’ weekly hot fly list, and be ready with your dry/dropper rigs. Peruse blog.angler.management for more spec’s from our staff and fishing friends that will boost your Saturday success.

Add a buddy to split your fuel tab and load up tonite for your weekend explorations. Call or come by either UO store if we can help with intel and supplies. Good luck!

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: black elk hair caddis, griffiths gnat, Sparkle Dun, parachute Blue Wing Olive, parachute adams.

Nymphs and wets: Depth Charge Caddis, span worm, jig CDC Pheasant Tail, PT soft hackles, pats rubberlegs, apricot slush egg.

Streamers: mini gulp snack, Bank Robber Sculpin, Kreelex, Chocklett’s Bugger changer and gray/white clouser for the lakes.


Splatek:  I spent Tuesday in the hills fishing before scouting for turkey sign.   netted three wild rainbows in about ninety minutes.  It was super slow.  The water was at a good height but very cold and the trout were deep..  I found a solo nymph or a dry/drop combo with a very slow drift got the most takes. And they were sluggish takes, so I had to be ready with my hooksets. Headwater fish should look up as the bluelines warm back up.”

RSquared:  “This time of year, you would normally find me chasing DH trout in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. However, recent rains, which create dangerous flows, have pushed me up to high altitude bluelines in search of wild trout. I have experienced good success with a "Never Sink" caddis dry fly and dropper of a pheasant tail or prince nymph about 18" behind it.  Wild bows and specks have been cooperative.“

Smith DH:

New UO fishing buddy JR (the Jefferson Rambler) checked in with his first UO report:

“I had just a few hours on Sunday to spare, so I hit Smith Creek at mid-afternoon and caught a nice handful of rainbows. The larger fish enjoyed my Pink Squirmy, while the smaller ones sipped my small pheasant tail dropper. It was a nice trip for this new flyfisher as I learn this drag-free drift gig and improve my game.”

 Nan DH:

Remember last week’s post about high flows and tough wading due to dam discharges into the Delayed Harvest river channel. It might be a good time to explore some DH alternatives like the Tuck, Fires, or Big Snowbird.


We all had to start somewhere, right? For many of us, that was stockers on bait. Fly rods were somewhere in our distant future.  

Today’s GAWRD fishing blog


 says that state and federal trout trucks will kick off the ‘22 stocking season next week. Grab some Powerbait, nightcrawlers, ultralight rods, and kids to cast those rods.  Be the hero and introduce them to trout fishing 101. Make it easy and fun with some bait-chucking for naive stockers.  After a few years, those youthful trouters will desire greater challenges and that will be the perfect time to introduce them to flyfishing. Here’s the WRD excerpt:

Getting Ready for Stocking Season: (courtesy of John Lee Thomson, Trout Stocking Coordinator with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division) —It is that time of year to dust off the trout fishing gear and make sure you plan a fishing trip to your favorite trout fishing destination. Next week GADNR, in cooperation with the USFWS, will stock over 40,000 trout in north Georgia. It is a great time to make sure your fishing and trout licenses are up to date. If you don’t have a favorite destination, visit our Trout page on the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division website .

Private Waters:

UO Guide Israel:  “I had a great recent trip with Eli and Nadine. The father/daughter duo hit the river right, as flows dropped and the water temp rose back into the optimal range. Honestly, the resident rainbows were eating just about anything presented on a drag-free drift. “

UO guide Palmer: “I had a decent trip Monday. The water was high and clear. It was pretty slow until those periods when bugs started coming off the water. Most of our success came from swinging soft hackles and dead drifting small nymphs.”

UO staffer Atticus: “I fished the Bend for about an hour Wednesday evening after the rain.  The water was high, stained and rough to wade.  I hooked about five nice rainbows, but most won our high-water war.  I did manage 1 fish to the net.  I aimed for the slower, deep pools (flood refuges) with heavy flies: squirminators, mops, eggs, and some small streamers. I packed a lot of fun into that single hour.”

UO Company Manager Jake:

Karen and I had a good morning at the Bend earlier this week. Fish bit better this week due to higher flows. It was a bit slow at the chilly start, but quickly improved as the sun rose and warmed the water. The strikes were light and we used a yarn indicator to detect them. Best bugs were eggs, rubberlegs, and especially a pheasant tail soft hackle, all behind several shot to get them near the bottom.

The midday sun had fish rise in the water column to feed in the drift. They were skittish in the clear water and we had to downsize to fool them. That meant 5 and 6X tippet and ruby and root beer midges. Karen caught a nice bunch of bows, with the best one pushing 23 inches. It was a fun way to spend half a day.


Landon: “Black crappie are still a bit slow in migrating to Lanier’s  shallows, but there are a few! Shoreline fishing will get better with each passing warm day.”

HenryC: “Fishing the lakes of No GA continues to get more consistent as our springtime weather settles in. Fish are both on the surface over deep and shallow water. They are also in large schools roaming the big bays. Birds can be a big help in finding the fish. My last trip had no birds flying but we still managed a nice mess of stripers on the fly. Game changers, somethin else and Clousers are the ticket. Olive/wht, grey/wht or chartreuse/wht are your best color choices. The spotted bass are getting shallow and are also mixed in with the stripers making for some really nice fishing on most days.”


There you go. We’ve just been spared the huge deluge and stream blowouts. More bugs will hatch with each warming day and these longer evenings of daylight.  Cut your grass on Mondays or let it grow til June. Spring weekends are made for fishing, so don’t miss the fun. Call or come by either UO store if we can help your pursuit of smiles.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

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