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 7, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 10/7/22

It’s on!  

Memorize these two words: water temperature.  As our waters cool down into the prime temperature ranges for our prey, the action heats up. Just like spring, we are entering that prime thermal window for mountain trout and reservoir striped bass, while we’re still in a decent window for river bass- at least for a few more weeks. It’s on, folks!

We’re also in a prime temperature window for ourselves. Fifty-degree mornings, 75-degree afternoons, refreshing breezes, and fall foliage have anglers as excited as our prey. Add some NC Delayed Harvest stockings and C&R regulations and this is just about “Christmas in October” for regional finatics.

Best bets this week are the same as last week: subsurface river bass here and south of us, dry/dropped wild trout in very skinny water here and in the Smokies, fresh and naive NC Delayed Harvest trout, and reservoir spotted and striped fish when we can track down the surface schools. Ponds cool quicker than lakes, so get your streamers and crawdad flies deep. 

Check out our full report, timely angler intel,  more pics, and Wes’ hot fly list at blog.angler.management. (Link in bio).  Call or come by the shop for more advice and supplies. Good luck in the morning chill and the emerging colors of fall. Don’t forget your stream thermometer!

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: parachute Adams, orange stimulator, royal trude.

Nymphs & Wets:

Flashback pheasant tail, mop, squirmy worm, girdle bug, micro mayfly.

Streamers & warm water:

Sparkle minnow, bank robber sculpin, finesse changer.


UO friend RSquared:  “I recently acquired  a 5ft "Tiny Tenkara" rod. Friday, I took it to one of my favorite headwater streams where I christened  it with several native Southern Appalachian Brook Trout. Later that afternoon, I went to another stream and managed to hook a half dozen or so wild rainbows! It was fun and different but I don't see myself liquidating my conventional fly gear any time soon!”

UO buddy RonW:  “With our reservations, the Trio fished Smithgall on 10/1. We arrived to a super skinny creek with some fish in the usual places but certainly not in the numbers we're used to. We fished a long section with all of us picking up some small wild bows but no bigguns' other that a nice 14-15"  that Moe landed.  Kurt did hook into one goodun' who came unbuttoned after about a 30 second fight. 

We saw a large otter who has apparently taken up residence in a big pool. He came to the surface, popped his head out of the water, looked right at me, and then bolted underneath the big boulder on river left.  The fish in that hole were going absolutely bonkers. Eating one of our flies was not high on their priority list. 

We bailed late morning and headed to a small wild stream nearby to see if we could find some natives. After a good mile or so hike we got to the creek. There's no trails here so we bushwacked,  fishing upstream for about 3/4 of a mile and then backtracking down to our entry point.  We all caught brookies, mostly all on a dry but a few did come on the dropper.  Moe took the prize  for the best fish of the day,  with a beauty of a speck that filled his hand. 

It was an absolutely gorgeous day in the North Georgia Mountains to spend with great friends doing what we love the most. I was back at the house just in time for some grub and first pitch. GO BRAVES!

Nothing like a little hydrotherapy to cure the mind and body. I just wish my back and legs would get with the program. Please pass me the Motrin.”

NC Delayed Harvest

UO friend RonW: “I decided last night (5th) that if I wake up early on my own I'm going to fish the Nanty.  No alarm needed, my internal fish clock is working just fine as I woke up at 4:02.  I put on some coffee, gathered my gear and was out the door a few minutes before 5am.  About 2 hours and 114 miles later I was on the DH. It was still dark out so I had to kill some time in the truck until it was light enough to gear up. 

From the 3rd cast on, it was nothing but fire. I fished my 10'6 4wt  euro rod with a Olive Rubber Legged Woolly Bugger down low, with a peach egg dropper about 18" above that.  I caught fish nearly every cast on both flies but more came on the Bugger. I changed the dropper out when the peach egg lost its luster.  Apricot, blue and orange eggs all worked as well, as did my CDC Ronko fly.  Still more fish came on the Bugger! 

I eventually ditched the dropper and just threw a bugger for the rest of the morning until I called it quits around 1pm. Both Olive and Pumpkin slayed them. A dead drift or a slow steady twitch across and up the current was all it took.  They couldn't leave it alone! 

I ended up with 3 Nanty slams, a few doubles, and a total of 40+ fish, including some colored-up brookies.  I was home by 3pm, just in time to answer some emails and get some work done.  I'd say it was a fantastic day!”

Stocker Streams:

GAWRD  stocked a few streams during the last week of September, so check that old list and aim for some downstream leftovers. I drove up the Tallulah yesterday (6th). It was low and clear, but beautiful with the fall foliage coming on strong. Hint: fish the boulder fields that are harder for most anglers to access.

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.  Strip a small woolly bugger deep and cover a lot of stream to prospect for scattered stockers.

Private Waters:

UO guide Caleb: “Our first Nacoochee Bend trip of the season was a success! We fished the lower section and had consistent action on girdle bugs and stimulators.”

UO guide Israel just called and said Nacoochee Bend fished well for his clients this morning. A soft hackle pheasant tail on a nymph rig was the ticket today.

Call the shop soon (706-878-3083) to reserve your preferred fishing dates, as our fall calendar is filling fast!


If you’d like to learn how to flyfish, check out our Gilligan Special. 


Warmwater Rivers:

UO owner Jimmy: “I waded into the Hooch just before sunset Wednesday for a little hydrotherapy.   A vee of geese overhead may have been a good omen as, on only my second cast, my lure stopped. 

Then the line aimed up and a 20-inch shoal bass rocketed skyward on his first of four aerial displays. 
 Several smaller shoalies also came to hand. The big fish was caught in only 18 inches of water around submerged rocks.  All the smaller fish were caught in open water 4' to 5' deep.  The sun had already dropped below the tree line when I started casting, so the fish had come out to feed.  It was a great way to end a midweek work day, for sure.”

UO buddy Landon: “Our local bass rivers are starting to slow down a bit due to the cool nights. You can still catch them good subsurface.  The last half of the day has been better due to warmer water temps from the afternoon sun.”

My south GA buddy, Bert, said his local bass bite has really turned on. He and a buddy had an epic day on the Ocmulgee, with his best largemouth going 7 pounds.  His full report will be in today’s GAWRD weekly fishing blog:


Small Lakes

No recent reports, as many folks redirect toward trout and stripers.  Given the preference  of river bass to eat subsurface flies, we think it’s a safe bet to direct y’all toward streamers and crawdad flies for your pond bass.


Hank the Yank: “Very little has changed since last week. Actually, since Ian blew thru, the fishing has gotten more difficult. We are catching a few fish but they're not easy or obvious. There's a little schooling but nothing you can count on yet.  You have to get creative if you want to fool stripers or spots on both fly and light tackle. Hopefully with the cooler weather coming the fishing will become more consistent.  Falcons LB Nate Landman (#55) joined me again on his off day and had a battle with a nice striper that was as tough to tackle as Nick Chubb.”


UO friend RSquared: “ Monday found me back at Carters Lake in pursuit of hybrids and stripers with my son Matt and mutual friend, Joe  Turner.  The bite was good early but shut off as soon as the sun rose above the trees. We caught some real good’uns in the dawn shadows!”


GA Foothills TUer BLux:  “ I took a surf and turf mission to WY and was lucky enough to bring some elk steaks home. On the surf side, I had good action in a diversity of spots.

On the Madison, bows and browns succumbed to a good old fashioned #14 hares ear with a silver bead,  dry/dropped. Surprised I wasn’t run out of town doing that!

Lake fishing produced some nice splake on a glass bead olive semi seal leech on type 3 line.

For meadow creek brookies, a mix of hoppers and that little baby mop fly brought plenty to hand. I sure love my annual treatment for Rocky Mountain Fever!”

UO friend Sautee: “I returned to my favorite Colorado greenback cutthroat stream because the afternoon temps were warm enough to get in another wet wading session.  Water temp was 42 and the trout were accommodating.  

Fished on top exclusively and the hot fly was, of course, an October caddis #14. Who says you can’t wet wade in CO in October when the aspen are colorful?!?”

UO friend NM Craig: “Check this out! Same cutt caught a couple weeks apart in my NM national forest hotspot. See the spots below and in front of the dorsal, 7 of them in the same places!”

Mentoring kudos go to Athens Jay. He was off the water and in the classroom last weekend, as he helped teach flyfishing skills to a handful of Boy Scouts earning their merit badge. Attaboy, Bulldawg. The Fish Gods will be kind to you on your next trips!

So it’s ON for fall, guys and gals!  Grab your kids or friends and get outside soon, while these prime water temperatures rev up the bite. Don’t forget your waders, some Aquaseal for newly discovered pinholes, and the ultimate strike indicator- that pocket thermometer. Stop in our shop if we can help you out.  Good luck and…

Go Braves!

Go Dawgs!

Go Falcons!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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