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, May 13, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 5/13/22

Let’s make this your lucky day and lucky weekend, thanks to another helping of timely UO intel!

Our rain-free days continue so the region’s low, clear water conditions persist. That’s been real good for river floating, as bass and some stripers can charge your streamers from afar. Trout, on the other hand, remain skittish in the skinny water. 

Here’s some UO/Rabunite intel to make your trouting trips lucky ones this week.  First, think yeller. That’s May’s color for your topwater bugs, so try them first before falling back to your trusty Adams, chubby, or tan caddis. Second, aim for low light: shade, dawn, and dusk will give you the best shots on top. Third, force their quicker decisions! Find some broken and/or faster water, where residents must choose between eat/don’t eat much quicker. Long, slow pools may hold more fish, but they can study your fake food and often refuse your flies.   Save the flat water til the shadows give you an advantage.

Go soon to cash in on possibly the last week of spring. It looks like we will warm up next week, so river trouting will decline. That’s okay, for it’s just about time to switch to river bassing or go on the road for colder trout water.

Check out our long version on our home and Facebook pages. Ignore today’s date, employ our UO intel, and make today and the days to come very lucky ones. Stop in either store if we can help you further.

Wes’ Hot Fly List

Dries: stimulator, 409 Yeager yellow, elk hair caddis, yellow stimulator, yellow humpy.

Nymphs & Wets:

Pats rubber leg, soft hackle partridge, jig CDC pheasant tail, mop fly, psycho prince.

Streamers & warm water:

Amnesia bug (for bream), Boogle bugs, kreelex, hot cone bugger, finesse changer.


They are low and clear and hatches are getting sparse. Residents are spooky, but hungry. Toss something in yellow (stimmy, Sally, small chubby Chernobyl, or elk hair caddis) to start. Carry a few Adams, tan caddis, and coachman trudes as backups. Start with 4X tippet so you can retrieve your bugs from the “grabby” overhead branches. If fish are skittish, then you might have to downsize to 18 inches of 5X or 6X tippet to draw strikes.

See Wes’ Smokies report, below, for more headwater intel.

Stocker Streams

WRD trucks are still rolling daily, so watch that agency’s posted Friday reports (or sign up for them).

DH streams

This is your last Saturday for GA’s restrictive regs. On Sunday, you can take your kids and nightcrawlers and harvest those fish before they succumb to summer’s hot water (thus, the DH regs to optimize marginal trout waters).

Here’s one more hint: the big waters don’t get cleaned out immediately. Fly anglers can still have a week or two of decent trouting if those streams stay below 70 degrees.  (Add 2-3 degrees to Burrell’s Ford temps to guestimate Tooga DH temps)  Give them a shot if our nights stay cool thru May. Also, DH trout can’t read signs, so try above and below the DH zones, too, for wanderers.

As noted last week, NC’s DH regs are still on til early June (since the water’s colder up there).  They will still fish well. River residents are now a combo of sore-slipped and smart DH stockers and, oftentimes,  little wild bows. Forget your flashy Nov 1 flies and employ your hatch-matching, dead drifting, wild fish techniques for greatest luck. Grab that paint strainer, stick it over your net, and sift the drift for bugs. Turn over rocks, sort thru submerged leaf piles, and inspect spider webs. Try something yellow or an Adams on top and some small pheasant tails, hares ears, their soft hackle versions, and caddis emergers as your dropper. Read my intro on how to fish them. Boulder fields are prime right now, and flashlights are very handy.

Private Waters

They are still fishing real well, especially in the mornings. While flies are low, our nights have been thankfully cool.

UO guide Palmer:

“My clients have still done well.  More fish are looking up! We’ve had our best luck this week on chubbies, softhackles, and emergers.”

UO friend Cam:

“After representing GA on the TU-National’s Youth Leadership Council and mentoring kids for countless years at the GA Trout Camp, I was finally able to talk my dad into fly fishing with me!  Once at Nacoochee Bend, we both set our rods up and my rod quickly became “his” rod every time he got stuck. After a few hours, Dad had caught plenty of huge fish and I was skunked, but it was still worth it! 

I think I like guiding little kids better… they may not listen but they don’t talk back. It was a great day with my dear Dad!”

UO friend Marcus E posted a great web report on the duo’s trip to Nacoochee Bend. Their day was full of plump rainbows and topped off by a big Lanier migrant (striper) that tested his trout rod to its limit!

View the fish story and pics at the Fly Fishing North Ga Facebook group (Wednesday post).



UO Helen manager Wes: “I have been out of town camping for a few days,  off the grid in the Smokies. Jackson and I backpacked in and got on some natives. Lots of yellow sallies were flying around, so any yellow dry fly in a size #12-#16 was the ticket. We had a great time in the national park.”

Note: Daily fishing reports here:

Little River Outfitters - Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains

Warm Rivers:

UO owner Jimmy: “ The cool mornings haven't been any help toward getting river bass to feed on top but that doesn't mean the fishing is slow.  We all love that topwater bite but brute force and ignorance won't bring those fish to the surface before they're ready.  So, for now, you have to feed them where they are, and that's on the bottom.  Your fly or lure can't be moving too quickly through their domain so slow things down, practice patience, and reap some rewards.  As always, remember these are a very unique and special resource so we encourage you to handle them carefully and practice catch and release so we'll have a good supply for the future.”

UO buddy Landon:  “Go late and stay late. Kreelex has been my fly of choice. I think the river striper run is winding down but there are still a few hanging around.”

Ed Note: I included a pic of Damer’s striper, caught on a “Honda lure” to remind folks of the great intel in the weekly GAWRD reports. His catch was featured last Friday.  I’ve never used a better bait in my life!


Distant Rabunite DD:

“For your enjoyment.  My two oldest sons and I hit a middle GA river couple of weekends ago for some shoal bass action. Very trout like. 40+ fish day out of our raft. Doesn’t get a lot better than that!”

Flat Water:

RSquared: “ My son Matt & I went north of the state line for some topwater smallmouth action. The bite was slow but we managed to get a few in the boat. Love those Boogle-Bugs! Many of the Rivers & lakes of TN & NC hold decent populations of smallies and are worth a road trip. “

Hank the Yank:

He’s off the water this week. If he was on, he’d be telling us that the shallow water bass bite is still very good. Stripers are spotty, but if you find them at dawn, dusk, or at night under dock lights, you’ll have some great fights. UO young guns Grant and Joseph have confirmed this intel with more trips of their own.


So remember “yellow, broken water, Dark30 flashlights, and Boogle Bugs.”  Stop by either UO store or give us a call if we can help. Now go have a lucky day.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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