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, September 23, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 9/23/22

Welcome to the autumnal equinox. In plain-speak, fall has finally arrived!  I grabbed a light fleece jacket before stepping into a 53-degree dawn today for furry daughter Dolly’s morning routine. Whether we’re hunting, fishing, or hiking, this is what we’ve waited for all summer. Hello fall! As air and water temps drop, our catch rates should rise. Here’s the latest scoop from our UO staff and finatic friends.

Best bets for this week are river bass on the bottom, wild trout on top, pond bass and bream under the trees, and maybe some reservoir spots and hybrids when we can track them down before they dive. Remember that tomorrow (24th) is National Hunting and Fishing Day and a free fishing day for GA residents.

Check out our full report, timely angler intel,  and Wes’ hot fly list on our home and Facebook pages. Call or come by the shop for more intel and hot bugs.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: parachute ant, yellow humpy, orange stimulator, parachute Adams.

Nymphs & Wets:

CDC pheasant tail, hares ear, rainbow warrior, black WD-40,

Streamers & warm water:

Boogle bug popper, finesse changer, polar changer, sparkle minnow, muddy buddy. 


They’re coming on strong as cold night air once again blankets high mountain peaks. Streams are low and clear, but cold enough to get trout hunting some groceries. Stealth and soft tippets are still more important than fly pattern in these skinny streams. Be the heron!

UO guide Caleb: 

“We had a successful Monday of wild trout fishing with a client from Florida.  We were able to get a few trout rising to stimulators, while the rest hit the dropper: rainbow warrior or pheasant tail. It’s finally cooling down.”

UO friend RonW’s Saturday report: ”I’m back from the dead after an 8 week hiatus from fishing. My wife and I threw the dog in the truck early this morning and headed north to explore a couple new waterfalls.  She told me to bring a rod so I did. Armed with my 7' 3wt  glass rod and some intel from yesterday's UO weekly report, we set off for a  high elevation, headwater stream and waterfall. We arrived at the trailhead a little over 2 hours later.  It was a nice hike downhill for a little over a mile and a half to the waterfall.  I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the stream too. Eager brookies willing to eat a #14 yellow humpy. 1st fish in over 2 months was a brookie who got a crash course in aerial hole relocation due to my bass hookset.

We went down below the waterfall (barrier falls) and I immediately shook hands with a nice, colored up wild bow.  After swimming the dog for while, we started on the hike out back to the truck,  but not before we explored the water above the waterfall a little more. I ended the day with 5 brookies (4  fingerlins' and 1 niceun') and one lone rainbow to hand in about 2 hours of combined fishing. It was nice to finally give my trout legs a test after 6+ weeks of being sick and a nice little warm up for next week's Smokies trip.  Now

where is my ibuprofen?”

Smokies daily intel here:


Stocker Streams:

There are still a few summer stragglers left. Just cover a lot of water to pick off the cagey stockers that have now found refuge in the logjams, boulder fields, and overhanging rhodo branches.

A certain neighbor state does some fall stocking, so you might venture to the border for some Wild and Scenic action on bridge wash-downs.  

Breaking news: GAWRD’s noon fishing report hinted at some stockers released for National Hunting and Fishing Day. Check their site later today for any updates to the stocking list.


Private Waters

The cooler days to come allow us to reopen all of our private waters in October for your fall trips. Call the shop soon (706-878-3083) to reserve your preferred fishing dates. The fall calendar

 is filling fast!


If you’d like to learn how to flyfish, our Gilligan Special is a great deal. Just bring yourself and a fishing partner and we’ll supply the rest.


Warmwater Streams:

UO manager Jake:  “Ben and I slid the jet boat in north of Lanier on Tuesday, and had a pretty good morning. We boated just over a dozen fish, both spotted bass and shoal bass on bottom bouncing baits in and around the lumber. Water temps are cooling, and things on the river are improving and should only get better over the next few weeks.”

UO friend Landon: “I fished with the guys doing the shoalie genetics study on Tuesday. We floated the lower Chestatee.  Fishing was okay where the habitat was good. We landed a mix of shoal and Alabama bass by dragging worms around instream structure.”

Small Lakes

These should be good for several more weeks until surface temps dip below 70.  ATL suburbanite Splatek said the cooler weather allowed him to take his boys back to the ‘hood pond, where a dry/wet dropper combo was the ticket for the older boy and bread balls were hot on the young’uns kiddie pole.”

DNR intel:

Sounds like a few stockers might be around this weekend. Also check out the extensive lake info:



Hank the Yank: “Hybrid lakes are still your best bet in No GA. Hartwell, Chatuge, Clark's Hill, Russell, Oconee and Allatoona should allow you to find some top water to toss a fly at or for spin fishing anglers (since it's national hunting and fishing day this weekend) you can toss a float and attach a fly behind it as the fish are feeding on small threadfin shad. 

Lake Lanier has NOT turned on yet BUT with temps dropping by the time you read this report, I believe we will see the change over the next several days. Plan your exploratory Lanier trips either early or late in the day. Bass are starting to be caught nearer to the surface on walk the dog artificials or flies. “


UO staffer Grant:  “My dad and I went up to Chatuge and saw a lot of busting fish, but they were hard to target in their short times on the surface. We ended up catching a few spotted bass on some moving baits. Actin should improve with falling water temps.” 

UO friend RSquared:  “My son Matt & I fished Carters Lake Monday for spotted bass. The bite was slow but we managed to boat a few. The ones willing to play took flukes & worms on a shaky head.”


Craig in NM:  “My return trip to the Pecos Wilderness was just as rewarding as the prior trip.  I found more Rio Grande cutthroats in the headwater stream and a few were hefty for such small water.  They are such beautiful fish.  Enjoy the pic.”

Sautee checked in with a new CO report: “ While wildlife and stargazing have occupied most of my time and camera lens, I did sneak back to the Big Thompson this week.  I had another fine afternoon of surface action on a #14 parachute black ant.  A nice handful of resident brookies and browns spoiled me again.”

That’s the latest news as we grab a sweatshirt each dawn and watch the first leaves drop.  “Fall” into some tight lines during the beautiful week to come. Fishing is fun and catching is even better. With the changing season, both will improve in the days ahead. Call or come by the Helen shop for hot flies, breaking intel, and fall trip bookings. We’ll be glad to lend you a hand.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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