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 27, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 5/27/22

Our prayers for rain were answered - and then some. Helen had 6 inches of rain this week and the Chattooga watershed tallied 8 inches!   Large trout streams and bass rivers will be blown out for several days until all that water runs off toward the flatlands.

Best bets for your holiday weekend will be ponds, bluelines, and reservoirs for dawn bass, before the holiday crowds wake up, get into big boats, and throw wakes across your bows.

Today’s morning recon showed small bluelines running high, but clearing.  Slightly larger streams on the national forest were high and off-color. Fishing on or right next to their banks should be possible this weekend as those flows drop. Know your own safe wading level, then check stream gauges or call local fly shops for the latest stream conditions.

Wes’ hot fly list and some extra tips follow on our extended version of this report. You can view it on our home and Facebook pages.

May we all note this special holiday and pay tribute to all those members of military who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.  Let us appreciate our freedom to fish on this Memorial Day weekend.

Wes’ Hot Fly List

Dries: 409 Yeager yellow, elk hair caddis, yellow, humpy. Chubby Chernobyl.

Nymphs & Wets:

Girdle bug, squirmy worm, mop fly, lightning bug, prince nymph, soft hackle pheasant tail.

Streamers & warm water:

Feather changer, finesse changer, boogle popper, dragon tail, mouse rat


They are a best bet, as stormflows subside quickly and these heavily forested streams never muddy-up anyway.  Aim for the flood refuges next to the bank, along submerged logs, behind big boulders, and below rock ledges. Hi-stick a dry/dropper combo to let it hang a while in those soft spots. Use a buoyant dry like a chubby or elk hair caddis, then drop a small but heavy nymph a foot under it. If there’s color in the water, try a bright tungsten bead on the dropper. If it’s clear, try a black tungsten bead or an unbeaded but weighted pheasant tail or hares ear nymph or soft hackle.

Stocker Streams:

GAWRD usually stocks heavily for popular holidays, so watch todays list when it’s published.  High water should spread out stockers, so try aiming for some wash-downs below traditional stocking sites. Again, aim your fly, bait, or lure toward the flood refuges.

Bigger Trout Waters:

Most public waters, tailwaters, and private waters have been blown out this week, so we don’t have many fresh reports. They should fish well as flows drop and a little color remains in them. Recall my prior post this week about squirmies and stones in those dropping flows. Aim for the mornings to catch colder water, before the afternoon sun bakes it.

UO friend Landon:

“I took my boss to the Hooch Tailwater on Sunday AM.  Fairly slow morning but we caught a few rainbows on pheasant  tails under an indicator, fished around woody structure.”

NC streams:

The same storm front hit NC and those bigger streams are also blown out. Our headwater tips, mentioned above, should apply to the NC bluelines, too.

RSquared got up there before the monsoon and reported:

“Once again, I ventured north of the state line. My fly box was loaded with yellow caddis, yellow stimulators, & yellow mayflies. However, the trout at 3500ft elevation & above had evidently not read the NC hatch chart! Disappointed in the absence of activity, I switched to the old reliable Parachute Adams in a size 16. It was like turning on a switch. I began getting strikes & landed several nice wild Rainbow’s & Native Brookies over the following 3 days.”


Hank the Yank said that shallow lake stripers are gone for the summer, as surface temps approach 80 degrees. It’s about time to aim for river migrants, once these floods pass.  Spotted bass have been spotty. Try tossing 5-inch game changers on long points, since the spots are chasing bluebacks.

Henry did see one very dedicated flyfisher on the lake and said, “Fly anglers will do whatever means necessary to toss feathers at a fish!”



UO Helen manager Wes:

“Jackson and I had a fun weekend getaway with some buddies and wete able to get on a few river stripers.”

(See first photo, above)

UO owner Jimmy: “Here's a photo of a nice Redband Rainbow from the Deschutes in Oregon last week.  I was there for the salmonfly hatch and there were big bugs in all the bushes but very few on the water.  As a result, the fish were not yet keyed in on them so most of the catching was done on nymph droppers.  This beautiful lady, however, was caught on a salmonfly dry.  Magnificent country and great friends to fish with.  For what it's worth, I hear the fishing this week is lights out.”

There’s your holiday report from our UO gang.  The rains were welcome. While they may put a brief damper on some of our weekend opportunities, they will remedy low streamflows for a while. Hopefully we will get into a summer pattern of weekly storms to maintain flows and drop water temps. 

We thank and honor all of our military heroes on their day of remembrance.  Our freedom is special, and it certainly has not been free. May we all enjoy our days in the woods and on the water, and remember our heroes with deep gratitude for their ultimate sacrifice.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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