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 8, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 4/8/22

Brrrr, it’s brisk out there!  Air temps in the low fifties and winds around 15mph give us some nippy fishing conditions. And a “return to winter” is the theme for this weekend’s anglers. The good news is that we start warming back up toward 70 degrees on Sunday afternoon and will enjoy some nice weekdays next week.

Right now, dig out your winter attire and trouting techniques.  My lunchtime recon showed area streams running clear and just a bit high. This blast of cold air has really dropped water temps!  That will put a damper on any bug hatches and dry fly action for a couple days. The good news is that water temps are still staying in the fifties, so fish will eat well if you get your bugs near their noses.  Dredge some nymphs for your best bets at big-water trout, especially if you’re fishing before lunch.  After lunch, try swinging some soft hackles when water temps go up.

In contrast, headwater anglers can still try dry/dropper rigs. The dries will mainly serve as strike indicators for your weighted droppers, but you might catch a few on top since most pools and runs aren’t deeper than three feet. Blueline residents can easily look up and snatch a surface snack, especially in warmer afternoon waters.

As for the winds, trouters shouldn’t worry about them, but boating anglers should take heed. Most of our trout streams are sheltered from the winds because a) they’re in deep gorges between mountains and b) their southerly flows run perpendicular to our westerly winds.  Boaters should proceed with caution, but some windblown shorelines might be stacked up with shad… and spots and stripers. As the rivers clear, now’s the time to try the striper runs.  It’s on til about the 20th, when most fish are spawned out and heading back down to the lakes for shad suppers. GAWRD just loaded my In box with some hot intel:


Note yet another USFS vehicle closure of the popular Wildcat Creek road. The good news is that there are plenty of other streams being stocked now for all of the stocker fans.


We have the latest angler intel on our long version of this report. View it on our Facebook page or our UO home page. Wes’ hot fly list and our fresh angler reports will enhance your angling odds. How fresh? I crossed paths at noon with UO guide Israel, who said he’s got pics and intel for me from his morning trip. Fresh enough for y’all?

Good luck this weekend. Don’t forget your fleece, wind breaking raincoat, and selection of split shot!

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: Yellow stimulator, parachute March brown, Griffith’s gnat, elk hair caddis

Nymphs & Wets:

Soft hackle partridge, mini rubber leg stone, Duracell jig, former prince, mop fly, root beer midge, hares ear

Streamers & warm water:

Finesse changer, swinging D, bank robber sculpin, hot cone bugger


UO owner Jimmy: “I hit a small stream for a couple of hours of wild trout fishing this past Monday evening.  Grabbed a few flies and my 7 1/2 foot fiberglass 4 wt. for a little decompression time.  The creek was in great shape after all the rains we've had recently.  A #14 Parachute Adams with a #16 Hares Ear dropper worked just fine, although right before I got out of the creek I did notice some #14 Light Cahills coming off.  All in all, it was a beautiful evening on the water matching my old, tired reflexes against those lightning-fast rainbows.  They can certainly put a smile on my face.”

Delayed Harvest:

Recent shop and internet reports suggest that the GA DH streams are fishing decently. Aim for the flood refuges, where the fish have washed into after our recent high-water events. Prime refuges are boulder fields, logjams, and especially the big, flat pools right below bedrock ledges that run across the entire stream width. While we got two inches of rain in Helen, only one inch fell on the Chattooga watershed, so that river should be fishable for most of y’all.


The NC streams are fishing well. My old friend Jake, a fish biologist with the Wildlife Commission, directed me to good news regarding Nantahala DH fishing flows. See my screenshot of the agency’s March 29 Facebook post and consider following that agency’s FB page.



They’re at an even higher elevation and will be colder than our southerly streams.  In terms of water temps and bug hatches, they typically run a week behind GA each spring and a week or more ahead of us each fall. For park fans, I’ll share one of my best info sources: Byron’s daily fishing reports at Little River Outfitters.  I’ve used these for years and you should consider bookmarking that website, too:


Private Waters:

UO Helen manager Wes: “I had a trip out on The Bend Monday. The fishing was pretty good particularly due to a good amount of bugs hatching. Small midges hatched throughout the morning followed by mayflies and small yellow stoneflies in the afternoon. 

The water was still swift,  so we didn't see many fish grabbing bugs off the surface. However, they were crushing emergers, so swinging a soft hackle was very productive. For fish that didn't want to come up, we did well on girdle bugs, pheasant tails, and root beer midges.”

UO Guide Israel:  “Good seeing you today. Our morning was chilly, but the fishing was still hot. We just had to get down to the fish in these bigger, colder flows after our heavy midweek rain. The Bend rainbows took a real liking to my worm imitations today!”

Flat Water:

UO friend RonW: “Fished Berkeley Lake from the Kayaks last Sunday with some friends.  Slow day with the wind but still managed 2 bluegills on the fly and 3 bass on the wacky rig. My workload has been insane this year, so it was nice to finally have some time back on the water. “

UO Friend Landon: “Andrea and I did some slip bobber hair jig fishing from the bank. We landed a handful of largemouths and some small crappie tonight.”

UO Young Gun Joseph: “Here’s some pics of some fish me and my buddy have caught at westpoint lake this week. We have been focusing on fishing offshore humps and points 10-20 foot deep for spots and stripers. On the fly side of things 3-4 inch clouser patterns have been the best bet fished on an intermediate line with a countdown method. For conventional rods a 3.3 inch kitech on a 3/8 ounce jig head slow rolling it on the bottom. We have also caught some on jerk baits and too water in the evenings. For colors I like duller more mute colors for cloudy days and flashy or bright for sunny days.”

Hank the Yank’s Lanier report: “While fishing is still mostly hit or miss for stripers on Lanier, getting the right day can be the difference between feast or famine. Yesterday (Wednesday) the weatherman got it all wrong. The wind was nil, the rain held off and anyone who fished the pond was rewarded. Fish were up all afternoon and the epic blitz happened at the end of the day. One boat with 2 anglers doubled up 10 times and landed 35 stripers on the fly!  That's Lanier when you're living at the foot of the cross...”


There’s your “Christmas in April” report from UO. Adapt your bugs and techniques to the water temps and you’ll score big-time. Come armed with your winter game this weekend and your spring game on the warmer days ahead. Give us a shout or a visit and we’ll coach you up to an even higher batting average. Good luck!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

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