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, August 26, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 8/26/22

After a welcome week of cloudy, cooler weather and improved fishing conditions, we are now returning to our summer slowdown. The week ahead looks hot and clear, with some chances at scattered afternoon thundershowers.  So it’s the same old song of the last few months: have your summer game ready.

That means tailwaters and mountaintop bluelines for trout, or just giving them a break until we get some colder overnight air temperatures.  The usual selection of terrestrials and a couple trusty nymph droppers will get you some looks IF you have a stealthy stalk and lighter tippets.

Pond and river bream and bass will still be the best game in town. Just make sure a recent storm hasn’t blown out your planned floating reach. Tactics remain about the same: surface bugs under the shaded limbs and crayfish and streamer patterns down deeper when the sun is high.

There’s a bit of topwater reservoir action for folks willing to put in the work. See Jimmy’s trip intel in our extended report.

Rocky mountain trouting continues to rock along, as Sautee narrates for us in his two recent fish tales.

Check out those angler tales, their timely intel, and Wes’ hot fly list in our full report. It’s featured on our home and Facebook pages.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: parachute ant, stimulator, foam stone.

Nymphs & Wets:

Drowned ant, copper John, green weenie, mop.

Streamers & warm water:

Feather changer, double barrel popper, Boogle Bug, sparkle minnow, may’s identity crisis.


We had no recent reports in the shop.  My morning recon today showed the high Hooch tribs very skinny, transparent, and warm. Give them a break or go real high or to the Smokies for best results.  Downsize your bugs and lighten your tippet for more strikes. On the positive side, adults now cram into drought refuges and are real competitive for groceries in those prime pools and shaded undercuts.  If they’re not spooked, they’ll eat.  Any stormflows up this high will quickly recede to low summer baseflows, so plan to stick with your skinny water game.


Today’s GAWRD weekly fishing blog says streams have been stocked.  We will all know more by 5PM today. GAWRD usually stocks streams in advance of the Labor Day crowds, so I’d expect to see a big list next Friday, as well. Good luck getting the kids outdoors as summer winds down and school schedules fill up your taxi calendars.


Smokies intel:

The national park peaks have already started cooling off and fishing has picked up there, according to some nice online reports by Ian and Charity at R&R Flyfishing.


There’s always a nice daily report of stream conditions and best bets here:



We’ve had no recent reports at the shop. They should still be fishing well when not blown out by muddy tributaries and dam generation schedules. There’s some Hooch intel in today’s WRD blog thanks to Chris Scalley. Just scroll way down past the lake intel to find the trout reports.


For more info on Blue Ridge Tailwater, check out TVA’s website and consider downloading their app:


Warmwater Streams:

UO manager Jake said river bassing was slower this week. They had to work hard, but still found a few nice fish (top pic). Fish are scattered across the river. Topwater action is good early and on cloudy days, while dredging is better when the sun is out. I checked the Hooch at Highway 115 today and found it slightly muddy, with about two feet of visibility. If you hit these muddy waters, consider these tips: 1) fish shallower, where bass can see your offering; 2) add some rattles to your crawdad flies and a spinner blade to your streamers (Ex: Cowen’s Coyote). Help them to find your flies.

UO staffer Joseph: “Here’s a shoal bass that inhaled a stealth bomber. We also had several fish eat streamer patterns when the water was higher and faster.”

New UO staffer Ben:

“Here’s a cool little tagged shoal bass caught while wading.  Fishing can be a little slower in the early afternoon, so you really have to move slow and cover the water thoroughly to find the cooperative fish among all the afternoon nappers.”

UO Regular Landon:

“We hit the middle Hooch stretch above Lanier for the first time last week. Pretty slow float, as we only had a combined 10 bass between our duo. We could just never figure em out. We got a few on a jerkbait in faster water and the rest were while slow poking structure with small plastic worms.”

Flat Water:

UO young gun Joseph:  “I got some nice pond bass over the last week or so.  My biggest was 7.3lbs . Fish were more active last week but preferred something moving slowly along the bottom.”

UO friend R Squared:  “I recently took fellow educator & new fly fisher, Brice to a private pond in NW Georgia. It was a day of many firsts: First time fly fishing, First time catching a fish on a fly rod, First bluegill on a fly rod, First bass on a fly rod. All fish were caught on Boogle Bug poppers. Pay it forward & help someone new to fly fishing. You’ll be glad you did!”

UO owner Jimmy: “There's nothing more satisfying than seeing the smile on a kid's face when they're hauling in a fish.  This past Saturday was magic on the water as my grandson and I were surrounded by fish busting the surface.  At times they looked like schools of Bonita racing across the surface after baitfish.  The hot ticket was a Cowen's Somethin Else fly dropped off the back of a hookless Rapala for Crosby while I threw a Somethin Else on my Sage Smallmouth rod.  The key to getting kids hooked on fishing is for them to actually hook a lot of fish.  It was all over in about 2 1/2 hours; perfect for those short attention spans.  Find a kid and take them fishing; you'll both be glad you did.”


Sautee had two more nice CO reports for us:

“I had the opportunity to spend the day on a greenback cutthroat restoration stream with world famous fish biologist, Dr. Brett. We had a great morning of fishing and Brett caught his first greenback!

We hiked up 1.5 miles from trailhead before dropping off to the river. Water temp was 47, and the water was so clear it looked like the rocks were on top of it instead of under the surface. As we rigged up streamside, a young bull moose crossed the river so close to us that we literally picked up our stuff and moved so as to give him plenty of room.  We started catching fish right away on top using caddis and a tan Adams (#16).  Over the next couple hours we caught about 25 greenbacks up to 12”.  

The last fish he caught was a beauty and we ended the day after releasing the pictured cutthroat.  

Spending time on the stream with Brett was a real hoot, as you can well imagine. He’s an excellent fishing companion.

I also fished with two Rabunite friends on the IDBIS headwaters a couple days ago.  We all caught fish (brook trout and 1 brown). We fished for a couple hours, then caught up with one another until late afternoon,  when they needed to head back and get some supper.  That too was a good time.”

Our fly shop recently made friends with Craig from NM. You may recall his daughter pictured with a nice shoalie while visiting GA and floating with Jake a few weeks ago. He shared this: “here’s a nice pic of a colorful Rio Grande cutthroat that I landed on a favorite stream in the Carson National Forest.”

Check out a nice story by Craig here:


And his most recent book here:


Good luck as we “return to July” while anxiously awaiting the shorter, cooler days of September. Let’s all hope the showers fall here and boost streamflows a bit. In the meantime, stealth, soft casts, and drag-free drifts will still bring you some smiles. Stop in our shop if you’d like more intel or just swap a few fishing fibs.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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