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, June 17, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 6/17/22


Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there.  Welcome to “real hot and dry.”  Fishing conditions are tough this week with high heat & humidity and low, clear, warm water in our trout streams.  A few exceptions may happen as summer thunderstorms pop up and briefly cool off the waters, but those stormflows aren’t lasting very long after the clouds pass. A hefty front from the north is due here around 6 tonite, so check USGS gauges or call our shop tomorrow for Saturday stream conditions.

Summer best bets for our region’s trout continue to be tailwaters, extreme headwaters, and the higher elevation stocked streams in the mornings.

Warming water and lower flows really help river bass fishing, so keep those floating opportunities in mind. Don’t forget a raincoat and a river exit plan if a sudden storm aims toward you. Go early or late to avoid the midday bake.

Ponds and lakes are still good for bass and bream, especially in the morning coolness.  They’re good at dusk, too, but be prepared for the high heat and humidity that linger into the darkness.

Summer is travel season for many of our clients, so we’ve included a timely report in this week’s full edition of ours. The Park flooding news from our friends at Blue Ribbon Flies,  in West Yellowstone, is definitely worth the read and may give you some hope for your road trips.

Peruse our full report and Wes’ hot fly list on our Facebook and home pages. I’ve also linked to it in our Instagram bio.  Stop in either UO shop or give us a call if we can help with angling intel or last minute gift ideas for Dad. Here we go:

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: yellow humpy, stoneflopper, stimulator, parachute Adams.

Nymphs & Wets:

Cdc pheasant tail, drowned ant, green weenie, mop fly, hares ear.

Streamers & warm water:

Kreelex, double barrel bass bug, bullgill spider, finnesse changer, polar changer


UO guide Israel: “The water in our bluelines is Looooowwww!!!   Stealth over fly pattern will be the key for the smaller tribs and their wild trout. Consider downsizing flies and tippet, too, for softer landings in these calm waters with very spooky residents.”

Stocker Streams:

Stocker streams are still a good bet if you get out early in the day, when headwater streams are coolest. The more shade the better, so avoid the larger stocked waters with an open canopy and lots of sunshine that warm the water quickly. Watch the weekly trout stocking reports on the GAWRD trout web page. This is the home stretch for the agency’s spring stocking season, so get the kids outside soon, before stocking subsides in July.


UO friend Landon:

“We struck out trying for chatahoochee bass this AM in our quest for the GA Bass Slam but found a couple redbreast and trout throwing rooster tails.”

Helen Happenings:

UO owner Jimmy:

“I’ve got you a great picture for the fishing report.  This group of Tennessee anglers stopped by the shop Saturday.  There were 7 in the group; all riding these scooters that were tricked out to haul all their fishing gear.  The scooters get 100 mpg.  In these days of high gas prices, if you want to go badly enough, you can find a way!”


Higher elevations provide slightly cooler water and better chances at some wild trout. Be prepared for two things up here: severe summer storms and the possibility of flash floods.  A storm high in the mountains, miles above you, can send a wall of water at you just a hour or two later. (Trust me on this one, as I’ve experienced two Smokies flash floods myself. ) Be careful and plan a quick exit route, on the same side of the stream where your car is parked! Daily intel here:


Private Waters:

UO Helen manager Wes:  “I ran few trips this week, early in the mornings. The fish were sluggish due to the rising water temps. Getting out early is key. I found that the fish were holding deeper in the water column and nymphs like cdc pheasant tails, hares ears, and sunken ant patterns worked best. 

I would recommend anglers who are catch/release fishing in bigger waterways to bump up to heavier tippet like 4X. That way you limit the time you are fighting fish. I would also make sure to keep fish in the water as much as possible after you land them.

Given the high water temperatures, we are discontinuing our trips at Nacoochee Bend in Helen.  Hopefully these storms will help our river fish to get through the summer and we can have a great reopening next fall.”


UO friend Splatek:  “Big and little brothers have been micro-fishing local small streams for panfish and chubs. Tiny flies like nymphs and midges have been deadly.  The boys couldn't keep the fish off the hook. At their ages, it’s all about the action, and numbers trump size.

Also if anyone wants to help boost an 11-year old’s ego, give Spencer's YouTube backpack review a look and maybe a like.  It was his first try.”


UO friend Landon:

“A Lanier river was very good one evening after work.  I had good numbers of shoalies but went 0/3 on the big ones. A Clouser around ledges worked early. Then I caught a couple on top as the evening shadows fell, but most ate a weightless black woolly bugger under my popper.”

UO friend Athens Jay: “ Floated two Georgia rivers in search of the noble Shoal Bass. River levels were low and water clear. Two methods worked well. Big “blurple” streamers with dumbbell eyes, cast upstream to get a drag free drift, bumping along the bottom brought the biggest fish to hand. Using a clear sink-tip line to cast an unweighted game changer and “swimming” it over deeper water with a jerk/pause motion did cause many good fish to rise and eat aggressively.”

Flat Water:

HenryC: “Lanier is fishing okay for fly anglers. It’s a little less active than last mid-June which had top water fishing starting to peak this week. We are still able to find some schooling spotted bass that'll eat flies off the surface but not at the level we saw last year. The key this past week to finding fish is to fish  over brush piles on humps that are 15'-25' deep. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use your GPS combo fish finder to guide you to those spots. Mornings or afternoons are both working but sunny days are best to get the bass feeding on the surface. My best flies are still gurglers, crease flies and stealth bombers.”



Like us, many of our customers travel west each summer and are always interested in distant fishing conditions. By now, we’ve all heard of the historic flooding at Yellowstone Park.  Here’s an excerpt from the latest newsletter by Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone.  It’s our favorite shop and we visit with those guys and gals during each of our summer fishing trips to the park. Consider subscribing to their newsletter:



“It's been quite the week! Perhaps this is a lesson in, "be careful what you wish for." All spring long we've been hoping for precipitation to help fill up the areas rivers and lakes and we sure got it! As many of you already know Yellowstone has had severe flooding this past week and the hardest hit was the Yellowstone drainage. Heavy rain combined with runoff unleashed unprecedented levels of high water that took out roadways, bridges and houses. Park officials closed all park entrances and evacuated all visitors. Water levels on the Yellowstone have dropped significantly since Monday. The hardest hit communities were Gardiner and Red Lodge Montana, our thoughts and prayers are with them as they start to rebuild for a unpredictable future.

On our side of Yellowstone Park the situation was not even close to that of the North and Northeast portions. Water levels certainly became very high but up to this point, and that we know of , there was no major damage. Water levels coming out of the park have come down to half of what they were on Monday on the Madison and Gallatin.

It is still unclear when Yellowstone will once again open entrances to Yellowstone it could be as early as next week but we are not counting on that due to several assessments that still need to be conducted. We will try to keep you updated as best we can over the next week as we are talking with park officials daily. Below is the latest press release from Yellowstone Park officials which we received yesterday, this should help to give you an idea of what's happening.

We are starting to run guide trips on the Madison again as of today and look forward to getting back out on the river with you!

As always feel free to give us a call with any questions.

Current information for Yellowstone National Park


  • Aerial assessments conducted Monday, June 13, by Yellowstone National Park show major damage to multiple sections of road between the North Entrance (Gardiner, Montana), Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley and Cooke City, Montana, near the Northeast Entrance.  
  • Many sections of road in these areas are completely gone and will require substantial time and effort to reconstruct. 
  • The National Park Service will make every effort to repair these roads as soon as possible; however, it is probable that road sections in northern Yellowstone will not reopen this season due to the time required for repairs.  
  • To prevent visitors from being stranded in the park if conditions worsen, the park in coordination with Yellowstone National Park Lodges made the decision to have all visitors move out of overnight accommodations (lodging and campgrounds) and exit the park. 
  • All entrances to Yellowstone National Park remain temporarily CLOSED while the park waits for flood waters to recede and can conduct evaluations on roads, bridges and wastewater treatment facilities to ensure visitor and employee safety.  
  • There will be no inbound visitor traffic at any of the five entrances into the park, including visitors with lodging and camping reservations, until conditions improve and park infrastructure is evaluated. 
  • The park’s southern loop appears to be less impacted than the northern roads and teams will assess damage to determine when opening of the southern loop is feasible. This closure will extend minimally through next weekend.  
  • Due to the northern loop being unavailable for visitors, the park is analyzing how many visitors can safely visit the southern loop once it’s safe to reopen. This will likely mean implementation of some type of temporary reservation system to prevent gridlock and reduce impacts on park infrastructure.  
  • At this time, there are no known injuries nor deaths to have occurred in the park as a result of the unprecedented flooding.   
  • Effective immediately, Yellowstone’s backcountry is temporarily closed while crews assist campers (five known groups in the northern range) and assess damage to backcountry campsites, trails and bridges. 
  • The National Park Service, surrounding counties and states of Montana and Wyoming are working with the park’s gateway communities to evaluate flooding impacts and provide immediate support to residents and visitors. 
  • Water levels are expected to recede today in the afternoon; however, additional flood events are possible through this weekend.   

Known damage and issues 

  • Known damage (at this time) to some park roads includes: 
  • North Entrance (Gardiner, Montana) to Mammoth Hot Springs: road washed out in multiple places, significant rockslide at Gardner Canyon 
  • Tower Junction to Northeast Entrance: segment of road washed out near Soda Butte Picnic Area, mudslides, downed trees 
  • Tower-Roosevelt to Canyon Junction (Dunraven Pass): mudslide on road 
  • Canyon Junction to Fishing Bridge: Segment of road just south of Canyon Junction potentially compromised and closed for evaluation 
  • The power continues to be out in multiple locations in the park.  
  • Water and wastewater systems at Canyon Village and Mammoth Hot Springs are being impacted by flooding conditions and are being monitored.      

Stay Informed 

  • Visitors planning to travel to Yellowstone in the upcoming weeks should stay informed about the current situation and pay close attention to the status of road and weather conditions. 
  • Stay informed about up-to-date road conditions in Yellowstone:  
  • Visit Park Roads.  
  • To receive Yellowstone road alerts on your mobile phone, text “82190” to 888-777 (an automatic text reply will confirm receipt and provide instructions).  
  • Call (307) 344-2117 for a recorded message.  
  • Find news releases about the incident on the park’s website.  
  • Yellowstone will continue to communicate about this hazardous situation as more information is available.”

That’s the latest scoop, near and far, as we all try to get past this heat wave.  Aim for the cool mornings and then enjoy a streamside lunch in the shade. Have a great time with Dad, too. We’re here to help with your summer plans, so feel free to call or stop in.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.



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