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 28, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report -10/28/22

The week ahead is best labeled, “tricks (f)or treats.”  If you follow our veteran anglers’ tricks  in our full report, you’ll have a good chance at treating yourself to some successful trips.

The region only got about a half-inch of rain last week, which has already run off, so streams remain low, clear, cold, and leafy. And they’ll get leafier in the days ahead, especially with some wind.

Best bets are headwaters on warm afternoons, tailwaters any time, NC DH waters any time, and GA DH waters once that special season kicks in on 11/1.

Bass rivers are cooling and the bite is slowing, but you still have  some shots at nice fish. Reservoir temps are cooling down and the surface bite is heating up, thanks to some thick, shallow schools of shad.

The river and stream theme  is “spooky,” as low, clear water still has residents fearful of predation. Find the shady hiding spots and those bass and trout might feel safe enough to grab a meal. Again, hunt with stealth and you’ll have a shot.

The catching might take a back seat to the scenery this weekend, as our mountain foliage is showing off its fall colors. Enjoy your rides and wades at this great time of the year to get outside.

We’ve got Wes’ hot fly list and a boatload of intel in our full report. Check it out on our home and Facebook pages. Good luck this week. Stop by either UO store for more intel and vital supplies.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: Comparadun BWO, Elk hair caddis, Adams.

Nymphs & Wets:

Peach egg, soft hackle partridge, tan mop, oops, lightning bug, pheasant tail.

Streamers & warm water:

Bank robber sculpin, finesse changer, jiggy craw.


Fewer folks are fishing up here as bigger, downstream waters start fishing well again.  It’s the same set of tricks as last week: stealth and light stuff. Creeks are still very skinny and gin-clear. My tributary sampling site ran 54F at 11AM today.

One note of caution as you stalk these streams. If you spot specks or browns paired off, give them a break and don’t interrupt their date. Go in the woods around them and let them repopulate that stream for you. There’s plenty of water ahead of you.

New reporter Vic said he’s returned to his GA home for a while and had a reunion with one of his favorite wilderness streams. It was nice for him to knock some rust off his southern tricks:

“I did catch one brown trout on a little black stonefly under a foam orange caddisfly, about 1.5 miles north of the trailhead at XXXX.”

I don’t believe he said exactly where he was. That’s a good Rabunite!

Delayed Harvest:

 This week’s tricks are in my November 2020 Angler Magazine column.  You’ll be fishing for Frosh in GA and for Juniors and some Seniors (resident wild fish) in NC. Reacquaint yourselves to the flies and techniques that should treat you to some success. Turn to page Atlanta-2 in here:


UO friend Athens Jay:

“Members of the Oconee River Chapter of TU make an annual trip to North Carolina to fish various trout streams. ORCTU graciously opens this trip up to members of the UGA 5 Rivers club (the college version of TU). This fall I am teaching a freshman seminar at UGA entitled “The Science and Art of Fly Fishing”.  This year three students from that class joined us on the Brevard trip. This past weekend us “old guys” took 15 young and inexperienced fly anglers on a big adventure. While we did spend a lot of time untangling massive knots and replacing lost flies, the young folks persevered and everyone caught fish. We mostly focused on DH streams. We started throwing “legs and eggs” under a bobber. The low flows and mild weather also made it possible to fish dry/dropper rigs successfully. Best producers include peach egg, small (#16, 18) soft hackle pheasant tail with/without a bead, #16 elk hair caddis in cream or tan, #14 orange stimulator, Pat’s Rubberlegs variegated black/brown. Us old folks managed to prove that we have skills considered valuable by the young folks. We came home exhausted. The young folks came home highly motivated and ready to make another trip. A big thank you to the folks from ORCTU who willingly shared their precious time and wisdom with the next generation of coldwater conservationists. “


Athens Jay slipped over to the Hooch Tailwater for a few hours and found success on wild browns: “Actually it was a lot like shoal bass fishing: sink tip line, short quick strips, and a pause with articulated baitfish imitations. Black and brown were the best colors.”

Stocker Streams:

Real slim pickings here til the stocking trucks roll again next March. Best bets are the two tailwaters, sparse leftovers in the big stocker streams,  and post-flood wash-downs on public lands downstream from delayed harvest-regulation waters.

Private Waters:

We had a blast hosting last Saturday’s All Kids Fishing event at Nacoochee Bend. The talented mentors found some success for their kids via good drifts of smaller bugs. Here’s a report from UO guide Caleb: “All Girls Fish was a huge success last Saturday. Tempe caught her first ever fish on a fly rod and it happened to be a massive rainbow. We used small jig-style nymphs under an indicator to catch her fish, then stripped some micro leeches in the pools after the nymph bite turned off. It seemed all participants at the Bend found success.”


That same trick, small bugs on light line, produced for our clients this week. One duo told me that their larger nymph was hardly touched, with most success on a small flashback pheasant tail (or was it a hare’s ear?) dropped behind the first fly on 7X tippet. UO guide Israel said the same thing: stealthy approach, good drift, and small dark nymphs and wets on light tippet were necessary to convince educated fish in our droughty rivers. It’s a good time to have some 5 and 6X fluoro tippet in your pocket.

Warmwater Streams:

UO friend Landon: “Our group of upper Chatt shoal bass project volunteer anglers floated the Chestatee  for probably our last trip of year.  The water was super-low and fish were tight to structure. The bite was decent on my light-line ned rig. Otherwise, it  was tough going a lot of our group.”


HenryC: “Fishing on Lanier is still tough going BUT if you put the time in you can pick up a nice fish or two. Fish are scattered all over the lake. They are both on the north and south end of the lake and it's just a wacky season so far. While there aren't lots of fish being caught,  you can see this striper we caught recently that weighed 16lbs before being released. 

Hopefully things will improve as the weather brings in the colder air. In the meantime we are seeing teen-sized fish again which is a first in many years. It’s quality over quantity right now. There are some nice spots mixed in with the stripers, too.  WRD’s Lanier biologist, Hunter, hopped in my boat this morning and landed this hefty spot.”


My friend, Academy Jack, is having good luck on those Lanier stripers, too. He sent me this pic and said his tricks will be in today’s WRD weekly fishing blog. 


UO friend Landon: “The Lanier nite striper bite is improving. My friend Brandon’s been getting mostly smaller fish but is seeing some bigger fish recently. They’re real spooky.”

UO staffer Joseph: “ Here are some fish we I caught in my first high school tournament of the year. It was tough fishing as Lanier has had a lot of anglers on the water lately.  My partner ,Brody, and I were able to catch a few on moving baits.  The trick was targeting fish on bait and catching them when they pushed bait up top. They made quick decisions with reaction strikes.”


UO friend RonW: Kurt and I ventured far north of the state line to spend his birthday with our buddy Steve on his family's private property. 

The fish were snooty until we figured out what they wanted.  We each had several fish to the net, with some absolute bruisers to boot. Best fish of the day for me was a 24" ornery brown who showed no interest in meeting me and certainly wasn't in the mood for a photo op. Kurt and I also both lost what we believe to be the biggest trout we've ever connected with on the fly rod.  Mine decided to take me downstream as fast as it could, nearly got me into my backing before it broke my olive soft hackle off. It felt great while it lasted but seemingly, all good things must come to an end. Sometimes the ending is not what we hoped for but as in life, that is what makes you come back wanting more..... That's fishing for you and why I love it so much. “

Okay, we’ve given you all the tricks you need this week. The treats are now up to you, so suit up in your Orvis costume and get out there soon.  Good luck this week. Call or stop in either UO store if we can restock your Halloween basket with flyfishing goodies.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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