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.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 5/5/22

We are finally into May which means we are in this season’s home stretch for big-water trouting. Soon those wide, sunlit rivers will push up into the high 60’s and their trout will get cranky. These hot, June-like days aren’t helping, either. Next week’s slight cool-down will help.

Get out there now, while water temps are still good. Soon we will have to hunt trout real high, up the mountain or real low, below a big dam full of winter water until those wide streams are fishable again next fall.

The trout river action is still good, despite low, clear water and picky fish. Got thin tippet?  Early and late are better right now than the sunny midday period. It’s the last hurrah for Georgia DH streams, as those regs end on 5/14. You still have them in NC til 6/3.

Tomorrow is iffy due to the storm front, but we desperately need that rain. Again, if streams get a half inch or less, they’ll be fine. An inch or more, and y’all may have to move upstream to smaller waters for a day or two until stormflows pass.  Remember those squirmies and rubberlegs if streams are colored up, but still fishable.

Flat water and river bass and bream fishing are off the charts. Great water temps and romance have those fish shallow, happy, and hungry.  Grab a kid, a canoe, and a small popper and pound the pond banks to earn Hero Guide status.

Lake stripers are still roaming the shallows, especially at low or no light. Spawning bluebacks are high on their menu.  Get them soon, before water temps drive them into their deep, summer vacation residences. And cash in on the hot spot bite!

Our detailed intel from UO staff and our finatic friends can be found on our home and Facebook pages. It’s definitely worth a look before you drive up here.  Stop by either UO store if we can help. Don’t forget a raincoat and good judgement in case tomorrow’s thunder aims your way.  Good luck!

Wes’ Hot Fly List

Dries: yellow stimulator, 409 Yeager yellow, parachute light Cahill, tiny tan caddis, trusty para Adams.

Nymphs & Wets:

Brown Girdle bug, soft hackle partridge, copper John, jiggy fry, hares ear, tiny pheasant tails.

Streamers & warm water:

Polar changer, Bugger changer, micro changer, kreelex, Olive bugger for stockers, Boogle bug popper.


They are low and clear. They’re not drought-low, but still low enough to push resident wild trout into their drought refuges. Lighten your tippet and your footsteps and aim toward overhead cover and pools. Technique trumps pattern, so tie on something you believe in and begin your slow stalks.

Stocker Streams

Good water temps and regular hatchery redoses keep them a best bet. Walk your rookie downstream, slowly, and roll cast a small bugger under the limbs and logs. Stick that rod tip in the water below you and twitch and strip that bugger back up to you.  Bookmark the GAWRD trout page and watch those weekly stocking lists.

DH streams

Web reports show them fishing real well, especially when the sun isn’t baking them. If you took time to read this week’s UO fodder, you’ll come up here prepared with Dark-30 equipment and tactics and leave late, with large smiles. Save your casting shoulders and focus on the last two hours of daylight for your best catch rates. 

Private Waters

Picky fish and lighter tippets will challenge you. But they are still eating either a good drift or a nice swing. Mornings will soon start fishing better than afternoons, so come up soon. The attached pics should convince you.

UO-Helen manager Wes:

“I did a trip on the bend yesterday (4th).  Stonefly nymphs, soft hackles, and streamers produced the best. We also were able to catch a couple on top with yellow stimulators. Dries have started to work well in the last week!

With water temperature on private waters starting to get into the 60s in the afternoons, be sure to try and fight fish as quick as possible and properly revive them before taking any pictures.”

UO guide Atticus:

“The fish at The Bend were eating well this week.  Many came up for dries, with lots still eating stonefly nymphs close to the bottom.”

UO Guide Como:

“Check out this big brown that my client wrangled last weekend.”

(See top pic)


No reports from our faithful ATL trio, so they must be working a lot of OT. Watch Chris Scalley’s (River Through Atlanta)  and Orvis-Alpharetta’s social media feeds for  the latest Tailwater intel. OA’s Dylan has a nice weekly video report on the shop’s Instagram feed.


Due to higher elevations, these streams run colder and their spring season runs a week or two behind ours. Take your mid-April skills and bugs up there and have a blast.

Little River Outfitters - Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains

Warm Rivers

UO owner Jimmy: “For Shoalies I'm catching more small males this week than the larger females.  The small males are still chunky, though!  The bass are still a little too deep for consistent topwater action and there's more water in the river than I like for wading but it's still a great evening respite with azaleas and mountain laurel painting the hillsides.”

UO buddy Landon:

“ Spent Monday evening yakking up river X. I went 3 for 4 on stripers and that 8 lber was biggest boated.  I lost one that was 15-20 lbs after fighting for a couple minutes when he gator-rolled then hit a log in the run. Spots/shoal bass were slow. I caught 5 on top.  The pictured spot was biggest and was fun on my 5 wt. Probably could have found more bass subsurface but wouldnt have been as fun as tossing topwater bugs.”

Flat Water:

Athens Jay: “Pond fishing is excellent. Boogle bug season is here. Next full moon should be outstanding for bream fishing. 

A paddleboard is a really stealthy way to target fish in shallow water. Flyfishing from a paddleboard is a great way to build core strength. “


“Warm weather fishing is firing up. 

Twenty-five fish in an hour on a green mop fly with pink hot spot at MiniMe’s local hotspot.”

Hank the Yank:

“Lanier is fishing pretty good lately. However it's all about getting "eats" whether it be stripers or spotted bass. The spots are extremely aggressive right now and we actually got them to eat a topwater fly this week. The stripers are still somewhat elusive BUT they are traveling in groups of 10-40 fish and surfacing enough during the day to get a few shots on them as well. Fish are positively eating herring so bigger flies are what anglers need to be tossing for both species. Dock lights are also fishing well. My tip to everyone is to fish the wind blown areas to get more bites. Fish are being found from Laurel Park to the dam and everywhere in between. If you really want to have some fun, bring a 7wt out and target whatever eats your fly. Magnum spots on a 7wt pull hard! That's Lanier's smallmouth bass as far as I'm concerned!”


UO’s Young Fish Vacs:

“Here are pictures of some Lanier stripers from this week. It seems like low light conditions are the best bet at stripers. On the other hand the high sun doesn’t seem to bother the bass. For flies a clouser or somethin else has been most productive -  fished on an intermediate line. Grant and Joseph.”

That’s the latest from our UO gang. We’d like to wish a Happy Mothers Day to all mothers out there, especially the ones who wet a line themselves or give a long line to their family members who enjoy our sport. We hope Sunday is special to all of you.  Good luck as the streams clear Saturday and the weather turns perfect next week. Stop by either UO store or give us a call for some May intel and supplies, from spinners to dries!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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