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 3, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 3/3/22

The switch is on!”  

Huh?  My ole Rabunite friends called it “the switch.”  It was hidden somewhere along the banks of the Chattooga. We could never find it. But when weather, water, and forage conditions all aligned, the river Fishing Gods would flip that switch to the “on” position and resident trout turned on like a school of piranhas.

With this warm week, those stars are aligning and the switch might just get stuck in the “on” position for most of our region waters.  Winter predators are thawing out and hungry. Trout stream bugs will stir and we might see some early spring hatches as temps climb toward 50F just north of the border and well into the 50’s on our Georgia streams.  Remember your March colors for your dries, gray and brown, and be on the lookout for caddis, Quill Gordons, blue quills, and maybe a March brown or two. Warmer, hungry lunkers have thawed out and will now chase stripped streamers in these warmer waters.

Lake shad and bluebacks will migrate toward the warmer shallows, especially where muddy tribs stain the lake water and let it catch more sun. And the predators will follow. Watch the GAWRD weekly fishing blog for news on river runs, too.  Walleye should be up there right now, with whites, hybrids, and a few stripers following in the weeks ahead.

So dunk your thermometer, read it and smile, and then cast with optimism this week. It should be a very good one. Enjoy the fresh reports from our staff and friends in our extended report on our home and Facebook pages.  May the “switch” turn on for your own trips this week.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: parachute Adams (#12-18), gray elk hair caddis (#14-18), yellow stimulator (#12-14), Quill Gordon (#14), March brown ( #14), blue quill (#18), griffiths gnat (#20).

Wets and Nymphs: hares ear (#12-16), same sized pheasant tails, soft hackle versions of both, caddis emergers, small peach eggs, brown pats rubberlegs.

Streamers: black and olive woolly buggers (#8-12), sparkle minnow, finesse changer. Gray over white clousers and Cowen’s somethin’ else for lake stripers and spots.


RSquared: Recent retiree is sure enjoying his new chapter of life and posted this report:  “I camped & fished with the Cohutta Chapter of TU Friday-Sunday on one of our Mountain WMA's. We were able to catch some hold-over rainbows & several wild fish including a couple of native brookies. Most fish were caught on nymphs. However, a couple of the wild fish were fooled by dry flies!  Heavy rains Sunday morning had us breaking camp & heading home! Dry Fly action for wild fish should be improving in the next few weeks as March-Browns, Caddis, & Blue Wing Olives begin to hatch more often.”



The mountain lake bream and bass weren't taking anything in the cold water , so MiniMe and I changed our game and hit a small mountain stream.  The little wild rainbow trout were looking up!  We got a few on tiny dries and even more on a small flashback pheasant tail dropper when we hit the deeper holes.”

DH streams:

Web reports indicate that they’re fishing well. Remember our prior post about agency stocking plans. Since it’s a new month, we might expect a netful or two of fresh GA stockers willing to eat a new flyfisher’s stripped bugger or drifted squirmy.  In contrast, veteran stockers and wild fish will prefer hatch-matchers, so be ready with a pheasant tail or hares ear, its soft hackle version, and a high floating caddis or Adams. Skim the stream drift with a bug net and match the groceries you see.

Private Waters:

UO Helen shop manager Wes said that great flows and warmer days had resident rainbows in a good mood again this week. Small eggs and nymphs worked best, but some nice fish were also caught on dredged rubberleg stones in deep pools and on swung soft hackles and streamers in the fishy runs. He expected this coming week to be on fire, too.

UO Young Gun Joseph:

Here’s a picture of a fish my buddy caught at The Bend.  With higher flows we had to throw heavy nymph rigs and also had several eat streamers. A #12 stonefly  followed with a size 14-16 caddis or mayfly nymph seemed to get the job done when we had plenty of weight ahead of them. For streamers,  a size 8 sparkle minnow was the ticket when the water warmed and fish were willing to chase a big meal.”

Flat water:

HenryC is optimistic:

“Striper fishing remains hit or miss for fly fishing the lakes around North GA. The good news is that fish are just starting to think about going shallow. There are some shallow fish even thought the majority are still in large groups over open water and fairly deep. If they're moving fast then you have no chance. If they are moving slow then a sinking line gives you an opportunity. Spotted bass and largemouth ARE starting to think about building beds and are feeding shallow. The majority are also deep (not as deep as the stripers). You can catch them anytime during the day, early/midday/late. Bring out a 6 or 7 weight with a slow sinking intermediate and have fun. You might encounter a chance striper too. Clousers, somethin else's and game changers are the ticket. Oh yeah... and blueberry donuts! They are the opposite of what a banana does in the boat.  Keep an eye on the birds, too.”


Landon on Lanier:  “Crappie and a a few white bass are starting to stage shallow. I caught a few from the bank this week on a slip cork and some white hair jigs. It will only get better with each passing week of warm weather.”


Ponds are warming and shallow water action for bass and bream is starting.  Athens Jay explained his rubberleg stonefly technique for early prospecting: “When fish are not aggressive I suspend the Rubberlegs under an air-lock indicator. I keep adjusting depth until I find out where they’re holding. Then I just give it a twitch every few seconds.”

That’s the latest instream intel from our UO clan and fans.  Get out there soon and take advantage of these rising water temps.  Indeed, the “switch” just might get stuck in the “on” position all week, so  don’t miss a day on your favorite water while the fish are cooperative.  Good luck!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

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