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, October 21, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 10/21/ 22

“Puddle jumping” is what many of you can expect to do this week, as our rainless streak continues. If you saw yesterday’s post, then you noticed that our forecast for trout waters was low, clear, cold, and leafy.  Despite the challenges of low flows and leaf fall, mountain trouting has been excellent. It’s all about those prime water temperatures. And we have a slight warming trend aimed our way next week, which will enhance angler comfort.

Other prospects are river bass, deep and slow, and reservoir spots and stripers if you can track them down. Regardless of your catching, this beautiful fall weather guarantees everyone some fine fishing trips in the days ahead.  Just bring warm clothes til the sun rises above the treeline and warms your buns. You might even dig out those handwarmers that you stashed in the basement after last winter.

We have several great reports, timely intel, and Wes’ hot fly list in our long version of this report. Check it out on our Facebook page and home page, where you will simply click on “fishing reports.”  And for our flyfishing rookies, try clicking on the adjacent “learn to flyfish” tab for some good, brief notes to get you going.

One note of caution: dry weather, low humidity, and winds have our national forest mighty dry.  Please be careful with your campfires until our woods get a good soaking.

Good luck this week. Call or stop in either UO store if we can aid in your fall festivities.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: Parachute ant and Adams, elk hair caddis, chubby Chernobyl.

Nymphs & Wets:

mighty may sloan baetis, rainbow warrior, split top, tan mop, red squirmy.

Streamers & warm water:

Sparkle minnow, wooly bugger, finesse changer, sweet baby cray.


Same as last week.  They are high and dry, and their scared residents will be packed into pools or squeezed under logs. If you saw yesterday’s blog post, those videos show you how skinny the headwaters are.  Puddle-jump to find the available predator cover (depth, turbulence, boulders, logs, and rock ledges) and you’ll find fish. If they see you first, you’re toast. But if you have good turkey hunting skills and a long, light leader, you’ve got a shot. A lot of mountain climbers have enjoyed the wild trout prospecting over the last week.

Ian at R&R Flyfishing in Townsend said the fishing has been very good and leaves are now at their peak in Smokies Park.


Also recall Byron’s daily park report, here:


Notice that our headwaters are cold in the morning. Wild trout action picks up after the sun gets high and warms up the water.

Delayed Harvest:

UO friend RSquared: “Cohutta TU members began arriving at the group campsites located at Rattler Ford before lunch on Thursday. The mountains of Western North Carolina were putting on a show with their brilliant fall colors from the deciduous trees that are native to this area. It did not take long for tents to be erected and plans made for fishing the afternoon. 

Measurable rain had been absent from this area for weeks, leaving the rivers and streams gin-clear and running low. However, despite the adverse conditions, the recently stocked DH streams had plenty of willing fish. Cohutta anglers took advantage of the naive salmonids and everyone caught fish during our final campout of the year. 

The wild trout of the area were shyer. The low, clear water had the wild fish hiding under rocks, logs and undercut banks. It was difficult to entice them to hit our flies, but those that tried were rewarded with a few fish. 

This campout is known for its food and fellowship and our camp cooks, led by Nelson Withers and Larry Vigil,  did not disappoint. As always, the meals, cooked in cast iron pots, were amazing. At night, the campfire blazed and tales of the day’s  fish were told. After breakfast on Sunday, camp was broken and goodbyes were said. This was a great end to what has been an amazing year of Cohutta SOTM's (Stream of the Month). Come join our club!


UO friend RonW:  “I ventured up across the state line to see if I could get my friend and neighbor 4 houses down the street, hooked up tight with his first trout on a fly rod. He has very little fishing experience and has never held a fly rod which he let me know several times, almost in an attempt say "Do you know what you're getting into"? Challenge accepted my friend!  

We left the neighborhood at 5:00 to make the 2 hour drive up l, with a quick stop at the Huddle House to fuel up.  We arrived Streamside to realize we were the only ones there. We got geared up and had "boots in the water" by 8:30. Kurt joined us shortly after that and nearly made me jump out of my Waders when he greeted us with his infamous stream side Cujo bark.  I didn't do Jimmy any favors,  starting him off with a Euro rod and a 2 fly rig. I let him know this, which challenge he gladly accepted. He was hooked up after about 30 minutes or so but the fish came unbuttoned.  We greatly overstayed our welcome in this run so we moved on, looking for more fish and some prime runs. He had a few more hook ups and  "long distance releases" over the next few hours but couldn't seal the deal, due to the small soft hackle dropper combined with him allowing slack in the line while fighting the fish.

We came to a beautiful run that looked promising. I took off the girdle bug and tied on one of my purple bead Roncos. Jimmy chucked it in there and made a nice drag free draft and the line went tight. After a short fight, his first trout was in the net and it was  on my fly. I'm not sure who smiled more but I'm sure he was a close second.   

The fishing was tough today!   The fish weren't willing to eat the normal junk food you'd expect this early in the DH season. "These fish are no longer freshman", "these fish are now juniors" as my mentor would say. They have gotten a fast education due to the high pressure and abundance of sharp, prickly and flashy fare drifting downstream. 

A #16 soft hackle was the fly of the day. I fished very little today as it was all about Jimmy and getting him connected. I only made a few casts here and there to show Jimmy "how to do it" as he'd say. I must say I felt the pressure to get him one in the net. There was a great sense of relief when it finally happened.

  I did get a good 20 minutes to pick apart a little piece of water while he ate his sandwich.  I landed a nice wild bow in some fast skinny riffles and a then a few stockers in the softer stuff, all on the soft hackle. I also fooled a few on the Bugger while prospecting, which we had rigged up on the other rod. 

We bailed around 4pm and listened to the Vols/ Bama game in the truck on the way home. Dredger is grinning from ear to ear tonight as are thousands of Vols fans. Us Jawga' fans are equally as elated!  It was another fantastic day on the water with friends. Jimmy thanked me up and down for sharing my passion with him, which I thanked him in return for allowing me to do so. Maybe  me telling him about my fishing trips won't sound like I'm speak Russian to him any more.”

There’s a bit of GA DH news in today’s GAWRD weekly fishing report. See Reservoirs for the link.

Stocker Streams:

You’ll do a lot more fishing than catching, since the stocking trucks are long-gone. Best bets are the two tailwaters and remote, downstream sections of bigger streams that were heavily stocked last summer. Breaking news: two sites were stocked this week. Check the GAWRD weekly fishing blog, linked below.


Web reports have both tailwaters fishing well. Watch the Hooch reports by Devin at the Orvis-Atlanta store. On the Toccoa, note that GAWRD started a voluntary creel survey. Give them your fishing trip data and help them enhance the management of that great stream. 

From WRD Facebook:

“We have instituted a self-report Trout Angler creel survey on the Toccoa Tailwater in Fannin County to help biologists evaluate current angler use, guiding, revisit rates, effort, satisfaction, catch rates, trout harvest sizes and harvest rates.  Anglers can quickly access the short survey on site by scanning the QR code on the signs posted at each public river access point.”

And I found our old hatch chart, which you might wish to bookmark.


Private Waters:

UO manager Jake sure hasn’t lost his guiding skills. He reports: “ Israel and I spent Thursday afternoon over at Soque River camp with Zack, Ted, and Mike, and had a banner afternoon as the water temps spiked with the afternoon sun. We caught fish on dry/droppers, double nymph rigs, and even had some success on streamers. The Soque River Camp is our newest property, and has been offering up some great days on the water for all of our anglers recently.”

UO guide Devin: “We did well at Nacoochee Bend this week, mostly on streamers.”

UO guide Caleb: “We had lots of success Thursday morning on the Soque. Indicator nymphing brought in lots of fish, but stripping a sparkle minnow through the deeper runs produced bigger fish.”

Satisfied Customer SheltonB:

“Just wanted to share a photo from Nacoochee Bend a couple weeks ago. Feel free to use on social media. Thanks!”

Call the shop soon (706-878-3083) to reserve your preferred fishing dates while they last:


Warmwater Rivers:

No reports, as the rivers aren’t warm any more and most folks’ attention has turned to trout. There is still a good chance to pick up some big fish by slowly bouncing the bottom with crayfish flies, soft plastics, and lazy streamers. Plus, there will be few folks on those rivers and all of the sweet spots will be yours. Have you broken the 20-inch mark on a shoalie yet?


Hank the Yank: “Fishing on Lake Lanier started looking up last weekend. Saw some groups pop up and down quickly but no fish were brought to hand. Then the front and the wind came in and shut everything down. We got a few spots on fly this week but the striped bass were ghosting us (sort of like Alabama's defense last weekend). Water temps are perfect so hopefully a rebound is in order...”


UO friend Landon: “Lanier was windy as heck on Tuesday. We caught a couple spots on jerkbaits and had one school of stripers come up for about 30 seconds. They dove before we could get to em.   Since we were wet and windy, we decided not to stay out for the nite Bomber bite. It should pick up next week.”

There is some fine lake intel, including Lanier turnover info, in today’s GAWRD weekly fishing report:



UGA 5Rivers Clubber ConnorS:  “we went north of the border last weekend.  The stocked trout were not eating anything on Saturday, however, the resident wild rainbows were. This was the case for most people on the river. We were using dry/droppers down to a squirmy, and they were rising to the dry (parachute Adams) occasionally as well as taking the squirmy (red or pink). We were also replacing the the squirmies with mop flys (grey or tan) and they worked, too.”

UO friend Sautee: “Went back into the park Wednesday afternoon when air temps hit the mid-fifties.  After several consecutive nights of temps dropping into the high twenties, water temps have reached a low of 40 degrees.  The days of wet wading have faded to memory as of two weeks ago.  With falling temps and brook trout spawning, feeding activity has slowed down considerably and this southerner is having to learn the nuances of Colorado fall fishing.  Fish were not looking up yesterday, so leaving an October caddis on as an indicator, I, again, began cycling through my favorite droppers.  After several changes that produced no interest from the resident fishes, I tied on a grey #18 soft hackle, trailing it about 24” behind the dry.  And WHAM!, fish on.  The soft hackle turned out to be the right choice and over the next hour and a half, I was able to land a dozen browns ranging from 6-10”.  Fishing a 3 wt., 8 and 10-inch browns are a boatload of fun, exhibiting deep runs and enough aerial acrobatics to keep me pleasantly entertained throughout the late afternoon. Tight lines everyone and we look forward to our return to Georgia in a couple of weeks!”

That’s the latest “leaf season” news from our part of the world. It sure is nice to no longer sweat through 90-degree days. Don’t miss this perfect season to get outdoors. Holler if we can help y’all to enjoy your romps through the forest.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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