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 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.

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