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, July 29, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 7/29/22

It’s been hot and dry for the past week, but the forecast for the week ahead shows a higher chance of showers. In fact, it just started raining here as I’m writing this at noon on Friday.  So….

This week’s theme is “flip a coin.” 

The coin flip is whether a shower hits or misses your target watershed.

“Heads” equals no rain and low, clear, and warm water in most cases. Best bets when the coin comes up “heads” continue to be river bass and bream, those same pond critters, tailwater trout, and morning, mountaintop wild and stocked trout where the water is below 66F.  

“Tails” equals a pop-up storm and a surge of muddy water. Best bets during the storm surges are headwater trout - if the surge is cooler, river stripers, and pond and reservoir bass and bream. Small ponds and public lakes are a very good bet all summer long and usually don’t muddy-up as badly as rivers. A little stain in the lake is a good thing as it disguises your bugs and line.  In contrast, river bass need several feet of visibility to see your bugs well, so pay attention to river gauges and avoid those reaches with spiking flows and muddy surges.

We have Wes’ hot fly list, some local intel, and a couple of great western reports to entertain you this week, so check out our full report on our home and Facebook pages.

(Link in bio)

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: Parachute ant, chubby Chernobyl, fathead beetle, elk hair caddis.

Nymphs & Wets:

Green weenie, squirmy worm, fire egg, hares ear.

Streamers & warm water:

Sparkle minnow, polar changer, bank robber sculpin, soft chew. Bluegill spider.


They remain low, clear, and warm. Take water temps and try early mornings when the water is under 66F, north slope streams, and higher elevations in NC and TN. Black and yellow are good colors during terrestrial season, and the Smokies headwaters still fish well for bushwackers.


New UO guide Caleb checked in:

“I had a lot of luck this week on blueline residents with a small caddis on top, size 16-18. I also had some takes in deeper pools on a “stubby chubby” size 12 stonefly with a rainbow warrior as a dropper to slow the drift down.”

Stocker Streams:

Watch today’s GAWRD stocking list for best bets.  If you saw yesterday’s posted video, we found evidence for recent stockings in cooler streams. They’re still heating up after lunch, though, so hit them in the mornings for your best luck. The low water will have them podded up, so cover some ground until you find a honey hole.

Here’s one more tip for skittish stockers in low, clear water. Sneak in way above them, cast quartering downstream, and swing a small soft hackle wet  on thin tippet (6X) in front of their noses.  If you don’t cast over their heads with big, meaty flies or bait, you won’t spook them. Just have that small snack drift by and then twitch in the current. It’s also an easy way to swing your bug under the rhododendron branches or beneath a submerged log.



We saw a video report from Andy at Cohutta Outfitters that said the lower Toccoa was warming up. Hit the upper 2/3 of the tailwater to catch Blue Ridge Dam’s cold discharge before the sun and air heat it up.

Warmwater Streams:

UO manager Jake said the river bass bite improved last week. The best pattern was tossing topwater bugs in the early morning shade, and then dredging deep offerings after the sun hit the water.

UO staffer Joseph: “I caught this  guy after a good afternoon shower. The high,  off-color water made for perfect conditions for river stripers.”

UO buddy Landon: “We had a really good float that included topwater action, a personal best shoal bass for one of our group, and even an 8 lb striper on a jerk bait. 

We all had a different pattern working for us. Buddy fished a small size pointer jerkbait and did pretty good in slower, deeper sections. Buddy 2, Pat caught his biggest shoal bass on a crawdad under a log with current. He had some luck hopping it off the bottom. I fished topwater all night and caught the most amongst us with the Berkley Choppo. Big thing I found with it for success was long casts to avoid spooking them in low water. Very few fish ate it when it hit water and starting swimming Most of time I’d cast upstream of a structure/ pocket,  let it drift down into it, and then start the retrieve.”

Flat Water:

My young neighbor, Kyle, shared a pic of his new personal best largemouth. The six-pounder inhaled a white Zara spook in a local, private pond. Congrats Kyle!

GAWRD intel:

The agency’s weekly blog is full of current intel, from lakes to river to trout streams. Sign up to receive your own copy via text or email.



UO buddy Sautee’s latest CO report: “Good evening of browns fishing in the Big Thompson River within RMNP. A few brook trout scattered among a couple dozen browns from 6-13". Water temp at 60 and, again, lots of bugs coming off. Anything yellow or brown in a mayfly or caddis pattern worked. 

Last week I picked a fight with this brown and lost.  However, I did get his address and made a mental note to pay him a visit again.  That visit was tonight and he lost this round.  I’ll give him a couple of weeks and issue a challenge to a rubber match.  He is a worthy adversary fishing dries with my 3 wt.”

UO owner Jimmy:  “Our visit to the Yellowstone area was different this year as you may imagine.  First, we couldn't visit the northeast area at all due to flood damage.  This meant no favorite lodge and no fishing the Lamar, Soda Butte, or Slough Creek; some of our favorite places.  However, we did have fun fishing some smaller streams both in and out of the Park as well as the Madison and the Gibbon.  Like most trips, there was a day or two where things were slow but, overall, this was one of the best trips I've had there in quite some time.  We hit the salmon fly hatch but those patterns were not always the ticket.  We probably caught more on Stimulators and Parachute Adams than most any other flies.  I have to admit, I did pretty well on a soft hackle Pheasant Tail dropper when the fish got picky.  The highlights of the trip were Grayling (both in and outside the Park) and perhaps my largest North American wild trout ever; a huge Cutthroat from a small stream outside the Park.  I didn't get a good photo but it was probably in the 24"-25" range and weighed close to 5 lbs (see Pic 1, above).  All in all, there were a lot fewer people in the Park and fewer anglers on the streams we chose to fish.  I love that place!

One other note.  If you're headed to Yellowstone to fish, I advise getting your license before you go.  You can no longer buy a license in a fly shop; you must purchase them online and it's not user-friendly.  Go to www.recreation.gov to navigate the process.”

UO guide Palmer:

“We returned recently from our annual pilgrimage to the great waters of WY, ID, and MT.  Our best bugs were Chubbies of various colors. We caught a huge salmonfly hatch in the park and also some major hatches of caddis, gray drakes, and PMDs. We caught browns, bows, Yellowstone cutts, and Colorado River cutts.   I miss the West already.”

UO buddy Ski, up in MI:

“Work has kept me busy all year, but I was able to escape for an hour this week and knock the dust off my rod. I packed some gear for our trip north to my son’s hockey camp.  While he skated, I went on a recon of the Boardman River.  Hoppers were in the streamside grass, so I knotted on an imitation and started tossing.  I’m claiming a moral victory for my first trip there and just an hour in the water.   I was 0 for 2, due to rusty hooksets, and had several others come up to take a look. At least I could find where the fish were.   I will return.”

UO trout wrangler Jessica checked in after a family vacation; “Hubby and I caught some tuna and mahi offshore at Bahia Mar in Fort Lauderdale. We had a fun trip.”

That’s the latest intel from our UO gang. Be ready with two attack plans, one for clear water and one for muddy water, and you’ll still score some summertime success. Watch the river gauges and then call us or stop by the shop so we can point you in the right direction. Good luck with your coin toss.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.



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