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, April 29, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 4/29/22

C’mon up; Saturday’s weather and water will be mighty fine! Streams are clear and running at or slightly below normal flows for this time of year. Water temps are perfect. If you’re coming Sunday or next week, pack a raincoat for the possibility of showers. We could use some rain to water our plants and trees and recharge our streams.

Cahills and caddis should continue to dominate the evening hatches. They tend to shrink through the month of April, so make sure you bring  some smaller sizes (#16-20) with you, too. Since we are knocking on May’s door, don’t forget yellow. We’ve already had a report from Will M of some yellow sallies and are sure golden stones are on the horizon. Bring those sallies and stimmies!

River bassing and striper hunting have still been strong in those clear flows.  Yakkers and pontoon fans wishing to flex their 8-weights with big streamers should have some good trips.

Lake bass are still shallow, with occasional visits from stripers. Low light is best, so try dawn, dusk, and after dark, especially around lit docks.

The Blue Ridge Troutfest is Saturday from 10 til 6.  Check your “waze” before coming up, as our locals report DOT road mtc delays on Highway 129.


See our full fishing report on our home and Facebook pages. Good luck closing out a great April. Stop by either UO shop if we can help you out.

.Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: tan elk hair caddis, parachute light Cahill, yellow sally, yellow stimulator, para Adams.

Nymphs & Wets:

Depth charge caddis, frenchie, soft hackle partridge and pheasant tail, girdle bug, hares ear nymph and soft hackle, Y2K for stockers.

Streamers & warm water:

Finesse changer, Murdich minnow, Cowen’s something else (Shad) and larger gray/white clousers (bluebacks) for reservoir predators, triple double leech, muddy buddy, small olive bugger for clear-water stockers.


They are still prime for your short rods and small, bushy dries. Try something yellow if tan’s a turnoff. They should be a degree or two warmer this week, bringing more fish to the top. Hopefully you don’t even have to run a dropper under your dry, unless you happen upon a deep pool and want to explore its depths. Stealth is more important than fly pattern.

Angling addict RSquared said:

“I went old school and fished a few wild streams with a venerable Appalachian dry fly called the "Thunderhead" which was created by the legendary Fred Hall of Bryson City N.C.. Even though it was mid-day and sunny, the revered pattern still enticed several wild rainbows to the surface to feed on my offering. I can assure you that the Thunderhead has earned a permanent place in my dry fly box.”

Stocker streams:

GAWRD’s stocking program continues, with a great assist from their federal partners at Rock Creek Hatchery. My two favorite baits are 1/3 nightcrawler or a small doughball of Powerbait covering a size 10 hook on 4-pound mono. I’ll fish upstream, make 2-3 short casts into each fishy pocket, and repeat, covering a lot of stream and uncovering a lot of bridge wash-downs. Get your kids out there now, while the getting is good. Trout supper, anyone?


GA and NC DH Waters:

High sun, lower flows, and warming water will start slowing the daytime bite. Dredge the deep pools, boulder pockets, and shaded runs with more natural patterns that resemble the caddis larva and mayfly nymphs now in the stream drift.  Suggestion: try a sexy Walts worm as an anchor to get your rig down. Add a dropper of a soft hackle pheasant tail, hares ear, or caddis emerger above it, and drift through those sheltered spots. After your drift, let it swing in the current below you. Then take a few strips back upstream before casting again. Switch to dries as the sun sets.

RSquared took time off from fishing to post a second report: “Sixteen members of the Cohutta Chapter of Trout Unlimited recently spent four days camping and fishing on the fabled wild and scenic Chattooga River. The weather was beautiful and Cohutta members fished from Earls Ford on the lower end to the back country at the upper end and the DH in the middle. Fish were feeding on nymphs and dry flies. Catch rates were a little low for most members but a few anglers experienced some exceptional catch rates. This river is very crowded on weekends. I would recommend fishing it midweek when there is less pressure.”

Hooch Tailwater:

UO buddies Ron, Mog and Mo had a nice trip.  Ron:  “The Trio hit the Dam again last Saturday in search of gold.  We stepped in the water shortly after 10. We were seeing risers everywhere in between the winds.  The fellas caught some on top, mine all came on the dropper.  I caught a half dozen, Kurt got over a dozen and Moe hammered em' again, he probably caught a few dozen or more.  It was a great day on the water as always and some much needed hydrotherapy!  

Only this one nice lil brown for Me, i'm sure Moe's got some nicer pics for you.”

Mo: “Just have one pic of a small stick of butter. A #20 frenchie dropped 3ft under my dry fooled them all day. Never changed flies. A good mix of rainbows and browns to hand.”


It’s the same story as our Georgia wild trout waters. Fish are skittish and pickier during the day, and more vulnerable when the sun dies and adult bugs come out to dance. The farther away from the road or campground that you go, the more comfortable the daytime fish are.


(Ed note: Notice how similar our fly lists are)

Private Waters:

They are still fishing very well for our resident rainbows.  UO guide Israel:  “Nothing has changed since last week.   The pattern continues to be small egg and nymph patterns drifted deep, and then soft hackles swung in shallower runs and riffles to imitate the hatching naturals. We are having to downsize our tippets in the lower, clear water to encourage more takes.”

Coolwater Rivers:

Jimmy and good friend, FL outdoor writer Rusty Chinnis, had a good river float this week. Jimmy sent a pic of Rusty’s striper and this report: “When you're angling for Shoal Bass and something takes your lure on a screaming run...”

Athens Jay got back in the game:

“Middle GA rivers are just right for wet wading.”

Flat Water:

Splatek reported on MiniMe’s feats at the local pond: “Warm water has the bream  hitting bread balls, worms, and just about anything you drop in front of them.”

Lake bassing has been great, while stripers have been sporadic. The herring spawn should improve the striper bite. See Capt. Mack’s intel and adapt it to your fly rigs.


UO young guns Joseph and Grant have done well:

“Here are some pics of some fish Grant and I have caught over the past two weeks on Lanier. Most of our fish have been on points or humps. We have been using intermediate lines with 3-4 inch clousers fished in the middle of the water column with short fast strips.”

That’s the latest news from our neck of the woods.  Take advantage of these fine spring days before they dissolve into the summer heat. Stop in a UO store for flies, supplies, and the freshest intel in this region. Good luck!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 4/21/22


We have a wonderful week ahead, as all the stars are aligning. The weather is great, water temps are prime, and streamflows are perfect. It’s spring bug-hatch time in mountain trout streams and river/run time for some reservoir predators.

So take your pick: Cahills and caddis for wild and DH trout, squirmy worms or Powerbait for kids smiles on stocker streams, big, articulated  streamers  for resident river bass and visiting striped ones, or shad flies for spawning spots and nomadic stripers on sloping reservoir points.

It’s all good, so make plans on this Earth Day to sample nature’s gifts ASAP. You’ll be glad you did. And you’ll be even happier if you prepare first by memorizing our fresh angler intel and Wes’ hot fly list on our home page and at blog.angler.management. Good luck enjoying prime time for wetting a line in north GA.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: elk hair caddis, parachute Cahill, stimulator, para Adams.

Nymphs & Wets:

Depth charge caddis, frenchie, squirmy worm, soft hackle partridge, girdle bug, hares ear nymph and soft hackle, pink squirmy for stockers.

Streamers & warm water:

Finesse changer, Murdich minnow, bluegill slider, triple double leech, muddy buddy, black bugger for stockers.


High elevation creeks have perfect water temps and flows. If you’d like to get away from everyone, they’re a best bet. Use last week’s tactics again. Start with a buoyant dry you believe in (para Adams, chubby Chernobyl, bushy tan caddis) and drop a pheasant tail or hares ear 18-24 inches off the back. Use a short leader to your dry to make casting the combo easier. If you’re lucky and it’s shady, enough will slurp your dry and convince you to cut off the dropper.

Stocker streams:

Wildlife agency stocking programs are going full bore. Introduce non-anglers to the sport with an ultralight spincast outfit, some worms and Powerbait, and a peek at today’s forthcoming GA stocking list. 


Bring a tent and a frying pan and really have fun away from civilization!


Our DH streams are fishing well for anglers bringing a decent game. Most fish are sore-lipped and educated now, so drag-free drifts and hatch-matching are the names of the two current games. See Wes’ hot fly list.

Athens Alan just checked in:

“Had fun yesterday evening (21st) on Unnamed Border River.  Left the SC parking lot at 5:30 and walked up to the upper end crossover, then started fishing at 6PM.  A few mayflies in the air but didn’t see any rises to naturals until about 7:00. 

I caught bows and browns on parachute purple haze (#16) and small tan caddis. I hiked up to the North end and had lots of action from 7:30 to 8:00.  The fish were putting a bend in my 4 weight! Lots of mayflies and bugs were around even at 8:15, but fish had stopped coming up by that time, so I started walking out. It was way past dark thirty when I got to my truck, due to tough walking in the dark with all the trees down on the trail. I got home at 11:30, whipped, but the 20+ trout to hand was worth it.  Here’s a Pic of a smashed bug (I’ve got to up my entomology game). I think they were cahills.”


Web reports have those northern waters on fire, too. Join the “Fly Fishing North GA” FB group and check out a few posts there.

It’s just hard to top the perfect trifecta of prime flows, great temps, and bugs in and on top of the stream.  See the attached pic of the agency’s DH stocking schedule. Hit a stream a few days after a stocking, arm your kid or new flyfisher with a size 10 black woolly bugger, and you’ll create a flyfisher for life!

Here’s some intel just for you, our dear friends of UO. These DH fish have smartened up, so up your own game to outsmart them. Match the evening hatch, but go two steps farther. First, come with some dries with a darker wing/post to imitate the natural duns emerging. Second, match the behavior of the naturals. First try a dead drift. If you get refused often, then try an occasional  twitch along the drift route. Lastly, especially with caddis, try some skitters. Toss downstream, skitter 2-3 feet back upstream, and then drop it back down to dead drift another 3-4 feet. Make sure you drop your rod and dead drift that bug!  Repeat.   Quit counting your catches when you run out of fingers.  Smile as many times as you’d like.  And you can pay me later with some U0 store credit…


They are fishing great, too. Those fish are real smart, so go deep during the day with good imitations of naturals and match the hatch at dark. If you hike way in, just use our blueline tips, above, to hook those underexploited residents. 


Private Waters:

They are still fishing great. The fish are not easy, given their histories with previous angling guests. But folks with good drifts, swings, and fly pattern changes are having big days.

UO guide Palmer: “my clients have had success on small egg and nymph patterns drifted deep, and then soft hackles swung in shallower runs and riffles to imitate the hatching naturals. Hatches are sparse, but there’s enough in the drift to have our resident rainbows on the lookout.”

UO guide Israel reported similar results with this week’s guests. All of our staff is super-busy, but he found time between trips to send me great pics and simply say:

“Yep, same as last week’s report.  They are crushing soft hackles on the deep drift and in the swing.”

Coolwater Rivers:

There are lots web reports of striper and white bass success. The lack of rainfall this week allowed our big rivers to clear. It’s a great time to float the Hooch, Chestatee, or Etowah and throw big, articulated bunny flies at striped fish and resident black bass species. Try it before the next big rain and before the stripers head back down to their home reservoirs.

Flat Water:

RSquared’s new life is evidently fishing, all the time. And we like it. Here’s one report: 

“While fishing a popper/dropper rig in a private, Paulding County lake this week, I managed to catch & land a double: a Bass on the popper, bream on the dropper!”

And another!

“The striper & hybrid bite on Carters Lake has been sporadic. However, if you are persistent,  you can entice some to eat.  We did!”

Landon:  “I had a good couple hours throwing a fluke at clay banks/ secondary points. Saw just about every fish come up and whack it. It’s a good time for non-boaters to walk Lanier’s banks and find these shallow-spawning spots. They are mean.” 

There’s some really hot lake intel in todays GAWRD fishing blog!


HenryC: “No news except that we are finally in for some stable weather which should improve the striper fishing. There have been reports of a little surface feeding on both rivers as well as plenty of bass up shallow. I cancelled my last client trip due to wind and went out myself to take a two-hour peek. Caught five nice spots in a short time and came home. 

Some stripers should still be up the river spawning while others are up shallow on points and blow-thru's. Don't know what a blow-thru is? Well it's all explained in my book! Those are easy fish to catch when you find them...”



Don’t miss these perfect days to be outside with a rod in hand.  Whether it’s solitude, scenery, numbers, or size, the end of April serves it all up for you.  Stop by either UO store if you need more ammo, from bugs to tippet to a lucky UO hat. 

Good luck.

The lawn and the Braves can wait. 

Go. Now!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 4/14/22

Welcome to your Easter holiday fishing report. Both flat and running waters are in great shape and will provide plenty of opportunities to choose from.  All trout waters invite you, from bluelines to national park creeks to Delayed Harvest streams to stocked trout waters. 

Take your pick and take your raincoat to work around/ through the weekend showers. A half inch of rain or less won’t dampen your success.  An inch or more might get you to move upstream a bit. Some color in the water will turn fish on, so remember your squirmies and rubberleg stones. Each passing, warmer day will encourage insect hatches, so dry fly fans should have more hope.  Pack some tan caddis and cahills along with your go-to patterns.

Ponds and lakes are hitting their prime. Watch for bass to move into the warming shallows. Aim for stripers on their river runs, or in the stained shallows on the upper end of reservoirs where muddy tribs are adding some color and nutrients - and attracting shad schools.

Catch our current, extensive angler intel and Wes’ hot fly list on our home page and at blog.angler.management. Good luck and have a joyous holiday weekend.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: elk hair caddis, comparadun Hendrickson, parachute Adams.

Nymphs & Wets:

Mop fly, birds nest, jig CDC pheasant tail, girdle bug, diamond midge.

Streamers & warm water:

Polar changer, Murdich minnow, bluegill slider, triple double leech, muddy buddy.


Our bluelines are in great shape: running full and clear with temps in the mid-50’s. Although insect hatches may still be a bit sparse, headwater wild fish will be looking up, down, and sideways for snacks.  Our soft water streams don’t offer a hefty menu, so residents can’t be picky.  Toss a dry/dropper combo of something you believe in. Good examples are elk hair caddis/frenchie and Adams/hares ear soft hackle.  If you’re lucky, you’ll have enough risers to your dry to cut off that dropper. While flows are good, they won’t hide your inferior stalk. So hunt stealthily before you cast, and limit false casts. Rabunites often say to dress like a rhododendron bush and fish like a blue heron.


Web reports show them fishing well. Earlier stocked fish have smartened up, so try smaller, natural patterns like pheasant tails and hares ears. Fresh April stockers will have a low fly-IQ, so have hope for your buggers, Y2K’s, and squirmies.  On Smith, toss small dries and midges in that last hour before dark.


Stocker Streams:

Are well stocked by GAWRD for the holiday. Check today’s weekly stocking list on WRD’s trout page.

RSquared Report #1:

“Tuesday, after the school-day ended, I took my students from the North Paulding High School Fly Fishing and Cold-Water Conservation Club to Raccoon Creek which is our local trout stream. We had a total of 13 young fishers and 6 sponsors/dads. The club walked the two miles down the Silver Comet Trail to reach their pristine destination in the middle of Paulding Forest WMA. When we arrived, students and chaperones spread out along the stream. Fishing was tough, but several nice rainbow trout were landed by the student anglers. This was the final official fishing trip of the 2021-2022 school year for the club and it marked the end of the 9th year of the North Paulding Club. Year 10 will begin in September! “

Hooch Tailwater:

UO friend RonW: “The Trio linked up at the dam last Sunday for a few hours of hydrotherapy and to see if we couldn't strike gold. I started off in my usual stubborn fashion: tossing streamers with my 9'6wt streamer rod. After a good hour with nothing but a single short strike, I dug in my pack to retrieve my  spare spool with floating line. I tossed on a Euro leader and off I went. I immediately caught a stocker bow within 5 casts on a #18 hares ear. Moved upstream a little bit to "Kurt's run" and proceeded to catch four wild Browns nearly back-to-back. They were all  colored up but one of them was just plain beautimus'.  I linked back up with the guys Upstream of me and caught several more rainbows on  both a nymph and a bugger.  Moe and I ended the day with about a dozen fish each, while Kurt probably caught well over 20.  It was another great day to spend a few hours on the water with great friends! “


RSquared, busy with “research” for us: “Cohutta TU members, Larry V., Jeff W., Don T., Tim O., and myself ventured north of the state line to fish some of Western North Carolina's most storied DH streams. We were rewarded with 3 glorious days of trout fishing. Friday and Saturday were overcast. Sleet and snow peppered our wading jackets as the high, fast water pushed and pulled on our waders. We set our strike indicators deep and used weight to get our flies down along the bottom where hungry, naive trout eagerly grabbed up our offerings. The fly of the trip was a size 14 Hairs Ear tied on a jig hook with a silver tungsten bead. All three species of trout were caught with brookies being the most prevalent. Two almost identical, fat, 18-inch Rainbow hens were the big fish of the expedition!”

UO friend Vance: “Al and I went up to the Nan DH yesterday. 

Not quite what I expected, based on info from my contact at NCWD. Yes the river was "fishable"and yes it was "wadeable" but wadeable only close to the edges and in places that would have had little to no flow under normal circumstances.  We had to lean into the current, with a sturdy wading staff !!! The water was UP, probably 10"-12", and was really rolling. Lots of weights used ( 2 BB's) on a long leader and tippet just to get it down in most every run. We did catch fish all day long: Bows, Brookies and Browns, some in places that would not have held fish under normal flow. Some places we just couldn't access  due to the flow. All the small waterfalls feeding the river were full and flowing strongly, which I am sure contributed to the flow rate. Any rain is going to blow it out. We really had to work and be exact with our presentation, getting it down in the right places with a lot of High Sticking. All in all it was a productive day of fishing,( Al and I both landed at least 15 fish, and I know I hooked and lost another 6-7. ), it was more of a challenge than normal , but that's a good thing. It was well worth the trip up there.”


Stream conditions are good and daily reports are positive. Prospective visitors will just have to watch rainfall totals and avoid any streams that get blown out.



Private Waters:

Israel just finished a full Thursday of guiding and shared his pics and intel: “Got one a chubby. Other than that, it was soft hackles, soft hackles, soft hackles.  Nymph ‘em deep, swing ‘em, or drop ‘em off a dry.  The Bend’s bows took ‘em all sorts of ways today.  Definitely more fish coming up top, so the next several weeks are looking promising for dry fly fans. And anyone can catch a trout, but it takes a truly skilled angler to fool a wily river native, the redhorse sucker!”

Coolwater Rivers:

Landon: “Tried Chestatee on Sunday morning and struck out on stripers, but landed a couple shoal bass up to 2 lbs on a Cowen’s coyote.”

Flat Water:

UO friend RonW: “Sent from my cousin Brian. It appears that the Hogs are on the move. This 9.2 pound LMB ate a ChatterBait and went on a long pull. Caught “somewhere east of Atlanta.”


“Fishing is okay on the pond. Fish are moving up river for the spawn since the water has warmed. The Hooch is clearly been better than the T (Chestatee) for action. You must be in moving water to find this spawning run of fish. For those anglers not wanting to compete with a ton of boats, there are still opportunities to catch spotted bass on points and flats along with a few smaller stripers. Spring is definitely here! The clouds of pollen are now being seen on the lake and sunglasses will help those folks affected by it. For the fish...we'll just spray some antihistamine on your favorite fly and have at it!”


There you go, in the nick of time for any Friday trekkers. Good luck while working through or around the rain to weekend success. Happy Easter from our Helen and Clarkesville teams.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Spring Break Smiles

The smile says it all! Young gun Hudson Kent really put a lickin’ on Nacoochee Bend’s resident rainbows yesterday.  The family trio had a big time with UO guide Israel Patterson and made some special memories together.

What are YOU doing for spring break? Take a kid fishing soon.  They’ll have a blast and you, too, will have memories that will last a lifetime.  Call our Helen fly shop (706-878-3083) for the latest angling intel or to book a trip with one of our all-star guides like Israel.

It’s prime time for Georgia trouting. Take it from Hudson.  Wet a line soon and create some mighty fine smiles yourselves!

UO:  Friendly. Local. Experts.

Past Award Recipient: Orvis Fly Shop of the Year

Photo credit: @israelpatterson