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, March 31, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 3/31/ 22

Welcome to April and prime time for north GA sportfish!  Last night’s storm dropped a quick inch of rain on our mountains. This morning’s recon through White County revealed high water as streams are shedding this runoff. 

Streams are high now but should subside quickly, since it was a sudden surge of storm runoff.  Water temps are perfect- the mid 50’s.  Small streams are fishable already, while big waters like the Chattooga may take a day or two to recede to your own safe wading levels. 

Have you started that notes page on your smart phone yet?  Document your wading ability vs that day’s stream flow on those USGS gauges that you’ll  check when you get home.  Add that note on your phone.

What to throw?  Match your bugs to the flow. If flow is big and dirty, use bigger, ugly bugs (buggers, rubberlegs), heavier tippet, and more shot.  When flows are low and clear, use smaller, natural fly patterns, thinner tippet, and less weight.

Lake action is heating up. Bass fishing is great, while stripers are still hit or miss. HenryC says to cover some ground to find the bait and birds. Or head up the rivers to target a few early birds on the spawning grounds.

Catch more timely intel in the long version of this report. You’ll find it on our home and Facebook pages. Good luck this weekend!

Wes’ Hot Fly List

Dries: Mimic May March brown, Olive Stimulator, elk hair caddis.

Nymphs & Wets:

Soft hackle partridge, squirrel nymph, girdle bug, root beer midge, hares ear, squirmy worm, slush egg.

Streamers & warm water:

Triple double leech, kreelex, bugger changer, polar changer, bluegill mini slider.


They are high but already clear. Folks can walk along the bank and hi-stick a dry-dropper combo for some action. Given the high water, use some bigger and brighter flies to get their attention quickly in these fast flows. Try a bigger caddis or stimulator as your strike indicator.   Then drop a tungsten bead pheasant tail or lightning bug about two feet off your dry. Aim for soft pockets behind boulders and along the bank. Downsize your bugs as flows drop and fish get pickier.

RSquared Reports: “The Cohutta Chapter SOTM (stream of the month) was held on the Blue Ridge WMA last Friday-Sunday. The water was high, fast, & clear. Friday proved to be the best day for catching fish, mostly  small rainbows. Saturday & Sunday were more of a challenge. Most trout were caught on nymphs, but a few took dries. We also landed a couple of colorful warpaint shiners in the lower elevations.”


Delayed Harvest:

Birthday Boy RussF checked in today:

“ I’m still the only person here and just getting below the road bridge.   Even after the morning rains, the water is clear, 58F, and moving.    I’m using two #4 shot and have my indicator about 8 feet up from my top fly.    Fish are gobbling up a pink San Juan and I haven’t seen a reason to change yet.   I’ve brought 5 to hand in my first hour here. Smith DH on your birthday and all by yourself = Life is good! “

Private Waters 

UO-Helen manager Wes: “I had a private water trip on Tuesday. The fish were pretty picky and we couldn't ever nail down a pattern. The key to getting bites seemed to be a clean drift and changing up flies till you got something that grabbed their attention.

We hooked fish on girdle bugs, soft hackles, pheasant tails, lightning bugs, streamers, midges, and perdigons.”

UO Guide Israel: “Fishing has been tough at The Bend on the Hooch and at Rainbow Point on the Soque after that big rain last Wednesday. Water is clear but high. Fish have not really shown a pattern; they seem to be eating a zebra midge one second and a pats rubberlegs the next. We’ve been changing flies a lot and covering more water to prospect for feeding fish. 

We are seeing more bugs hatching. Midges, blue wings, and the occasional March Brown have been spotted. We are not seeing many fish rise yet,  but usually see a couple rising in the late afternoon. Dry fly action should improve in the warmer weeks ahead of us.”


If you’re heading to the Smokies, they just may be real smoky. FYI on the wildfire near Pigeon Forge. Hopefully the storm’s rainfall has helped the firefighters.


Flat Water

Remember to watch the GAWRD weekly fishing blog at this time of the years. Field sampling crews are out gathering annual data on sport fish populations, and that intel can help guide you to some fine fishing. Tune in here each Friday:


UO Staffer Joseph: “Here’s a picture of a white bass I caught on Lanier. It ate a white Kitech on a 3/8 ounce jig head.  I was working it pretty fast high in the water column to get the white bass to eat.

UO buddy Landon: “We dragged plastic worms in the cold earlier this week. We found the bass on main lake points with a rocky bottom. Reports later in week suggested that fish moved shallower as the waters warmed.”

HenryC: “Striper fishing has gone from really consistent and good to really unpredictable-  but still good when it happens! One day you'll find them and the next day they're like ghosts. However the spotted bass bite has been very very good if the stripers do not cooperate when you're on the pond. The stripers are moving a lot as they ready themselves for their spawning run up the rivers.”


Enjoy our current intel as you enter April with high hopes and big smiles. We will do our best to ensure that your fuel funds will be well-spent on some grip-and-grin moments and lifetime memories. Come by or call either UO store if we can help further. Good luck!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

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