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 9, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 9/9/22

Congrats to all Dawg fans for your successful Saturday duck hunt. At least the hunt was indoors, as our waves of weekend rain dropped five inches on the Helen area and blew out the larger streams and rivers.

But the good news is that we had a nice recharge and our streams and rivers have higher flows and slightly cooler temperatures. My breezy, 75-degree lunchtime recon today showed that trout waters have also shed those stormflows and cleared. Bass rivers are still stained, but fishable until the next storm.  The better news is that your competition is down due to school and football, so enjoy more water to yourselves.

Best bets for this week are pond bass and bream, river bass if rivers aren’t blown out by a new storm, leftover stockers from the holiday helpings, and high-elevation wild trout where water temps are finally dropping a bit. Oh, and Yellowstone Park and Italy for travel fans…

Check out our full report, timely angler intel,  and Wes’ hot bug list on our home and Facebook pages.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: parachute ant, 409 Yeager yellow, humpy, elk hair caddis.

Nymphs & Wets:

Mop fly, hares ear, drowned ant, split top, red squirmy in muddy water.

Streamers & warm water:

Feather changer, double barrel popper, bank robber sculpin, Murdich minnow.


UO Helen manager Wes: “Jackson and I had a fun little overnight backpacking trip in the Smokies. The fish were very eager with the extra boost in flows from the rain. We fished in the headwaters area of one of the park streams and caught several rainbows and brookies on “parachute ants” and “409 yeager yellow” patterns. The hike was a long one but a productive one!”

Reminder of Byron’s nice daily park prospects:


New UO staffer Ben: “This week we traveled up to some high elevation North Carolina wild trout waters.  There’s been some phenomenal fishing lately!  We caught a nice handful of rainbows, with some real chunky fish among them.  They are eating small nymphs and some terrestrial dry flies.  Now is also a good time to freshen up your euro nymphing techniques for the cooler weather ahead.”

Stocker Streams:

Last week’s stocking was likely the last big load of fish for this year. Stocker stalkers will have their best luck by reviewing last week’s stocking list and aiming for leftovers. Given last weekend’s heavy rains, those fish should now be hanging in the flood refuges downstream from their stocking sites. Aim for the slower pools and big structure like boulders and logs.



Not much reported to our shop, since we’re a good distance from both of the GA trout tailwaters. See Reservoirs, below.

Warmwater Streams:

We’re walking a tightrope this week on river bass. At noon today the Hooch at Duncan Bridge and Highway 115 was discolored, but still afforded about 3 feet of visibility. If the coming storms don’t hit the watershed hard, bassing could be good. Just hit the shallows and use some bigger bugs and flashy streamers to get their attention in the stained water. But if a “red” cell comes across the radar screen and suddenly dumps 2 inches of rain, the river will turn brown and shut down. Call the shop and/or watch the USGS gauges for flow spikes, and have a Plan B ready.  What’s your B?

Good B’s are small lakes like Russell, Unicoi, Vogel, and Zwerner, 

headwater trout on your flea rod, and stripers on your 8-weight if the muddy slug disguises your streamers. It’s just about “last call”for those skinny summer vacationers. As rivers and lakes cool back down to the 70’s, stripers will head downriver to their reservoir buffets of shad and blueback herring, and gain back the weight they lost in cooler, but grocery-poor summer river refuges.

Athens Jay said: “I took some Trout Unlimited friends on a kayak adventure in search of mid-GA river bass just before all the recent rain hit. Conditions were good for wading (low water) so we mostly exited the boats to fish. There were both fly and conventional tackle anglers in the group. Fly anglers did very well with small to medium sized dark (black, blurple and brown) streamers with dumbbell eyes. The best technique was to use a big popper or a strike indicator set 6-7 feet above the streamer. Finding deep runs, casting upstream and getting a good drift worked best.”

Small Lakes

UO manager Jake said the pond bass bite was slower last week.  His best technique was ripping a chatterbait  fast through the shallows for some reaction strikes, and covering a lot of water to find the few cooperative fish.


Hank the Yank checked in with a timely report for our new football season: “Lanier's topwater season is nowhere near ready, with surface water temps still hovering at 83-84 degrees. Stripers are holding in the thermocline between 32-38' deep and are not coming to the surface. They're content eating threadfin shad deep. However, the spotted bass bite is starting to happen slowly. Fish are holding over deep brush and off of the deep points. Some schooling can be seen, but you can call them up to eat a fly-thrown popper like a crease fly, gurgler or the likes. 

This bite should get better as temperatures finally cool down. Here is a picture of the Atlanta Falcons new rookie linebacker Nate Landman (#55) sacking a nice Lanier spotted bass on a crease fly. Hopefully he does the same this Sunday to Jameis Winston (grin). The Falcons drafted a couple of defensive team fly anglers this year. On a side note, there are still some schooling fish on Lake Allatoona for those wanting to play with fish on top.”


GAWRD also had a lot of lake intel in today’s weekly blog, along with some Etowah striper and Blue Ridge Tailwater trout intel.  Consider signing up to receive your very own copy of the agency’s Friday report.



UO staffer Caleb got some time off from Jake and used it well: “Fishing has been good out West! It’s been unseasonably warm in the Yellowstone ecosystem but the cutthroat have been happy mid-morning and late evening. We’re on the tail-end of hopper season but hopper-dropper rigs have still fished well.”

Jamie from Athens writes:

“Check out my wild brown trout caught on a CDC soft hackle euronymph in a small public stream in Tuscany, Italy. Thanks to @flyfishingguideitaly. It was a 16 minute fight on a 4wt to land this beast.”

Outreach Kudos:

We salute the Cohuttans for their benevolence!  RSquared reported: “The Cohutta Chapter of Trout Unlimited is in the second week of their Introduction to  Fly Fishing Class. The course is for military veterans & first responders. Students learn casting, fly tying, entomology, etc.”

That’s the latest skinny from the wetter and cooler hamlet of Helen. Call or come by either UO shop if you are re-emerging from your summer siestas and can find time between football games to fling a fly.  And if you can’t, that’s okay. The rest of us will just enjoy an even longer stretch of stream all to ourselves! Thanks for your business and especially your friendship. Good luck this week on the football field and on the water.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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