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, November 11, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report -11/11/ 22

The rain is ending and the sun is peeking out as I wrap this report up at 4 PM. First and foremost, Happy Veterans Day to all of our proud fellow Americans who served our nation so well!  We owe you a debt of gratitude- and a lot of good fishing tips. They follow.

This week’s report is called “Nicole’s Legacy.” Overall, it’s a good one. We desperately needed the rain and welcome the recharge to our streams and lakes. We can still use more. We had about two inches of rain in the mountains and, thankfully, it fell via steady, soft showers instead of sudden gully-washers.  That’s good for fishing!

Best bets are headwater trout, DH trout in smaller watersheds, and lake bass and stripers.  My PM trek today found high Hooch tribs bank-full and off color, but fishable,

the Hooch in Helen muddy but not red, and the Hooch at Highway 115 pretty muddy, with maybe 1-2 of visibility. Although we have flow spikes, the water was so low to begin with that those spikes are really peaking at or just above normal flows. The water will subside quickly in small watersheds and within just a few days in large drainages.

Trout will hit big or flashy droppers while the water is stained. Drop down to smaller, naturally colored nymphs as the water clears. Use your toes as turbidity meters!Tomorrow should be a banner day due to better flows, slightly stained water, and warm weather.  

Stream trout might be slower on Sunday as air and water temps plummet.  They’ll need a few days to acclimate to colder surroundings. Use your stream thermometer: over 50 and you have some shots on dries. Under 50 and your dredged wets will rule.

In contrast, lakes are heat sinks and slow to change temperatures. They’ll continue to fish well whether the air is warm or cold. Just hunt for the bait schools, like Henry did rather successfully this week.

That’s our short version to fit Instagram. The treasure chest of weekly intel is on our Facebook and home page, where you just click on “fishing reports.” Check streamflows on USGS gauges, ensure your target is running at a safe wading level for you, and try  to get out tomorrow if you can! If not, then dress warmly on Sunday and get down to sluggish fish.

Here we go with the full report.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: comparadun BWO, Griffith gnat, parachute Adams.

Nymphs & Wets:

Micro mayfly, soft hackle partridge, mop fly, squirminator, pink tag jig, root beer midge. 

Streamers & warm water:

Simi seal leech, sparkle minnow, jiggy craw, mini finesse changer.


They were running slightly high and a bit dirty at 2PM today.  Spoilcane was 62F.  They’re actually perfect for hi-sticking some meaty nymphs (rubberlegs, walts worm) or bright squirmy worms in bankside eddies and midstream boulder slicks. You know, the flood refuges where residents stack up til the water subsides.  This slug of dirty, food-filled water encourages a trout buffet!  As streams clear, try a dry/dropper combo while the water is still warm and you should catch a few on top. When the temps drop, your dropper will be hotter.

UO friend Splatek: “The challenges of hunting with a two-year old in the middle of the day are beyond the scope of this text. However, when the hunting isn't hitting we fell back on our favorite blueline trout stream. Today we caught about 12 to 15 little wild rainbow trout in about a half hour before getting rained out.  They succumbed to small dark nymphs. All in all it was a pretty darn good day in the national first for two lowlanders. “

UO staffer Ben:  “We hit a small, technical stream in North Carolina on my off day.  I was euronymphing a size 20 Black France fly with 8x tippet.  It was an awesome day on the water, with high numbers of  wild rainbow trout and this trophy wild brown to top off the trip!”

Smokies daily intel here:


Delayed Harvest:

Smith was running slightly high and just slightly off-color at 2PM today. Temp was 63F. The lake moderates temp and turbidity for its tailwater. The anglers I spoke with today had slow days, but most weren’t getting down to the fish.

Other angler reports showed that GA’s fresh stockers were gullible their first week after stocking. Now, with the low water and plenty of “angler experiences,” they have quickly smartened up and gotten much spookier.  Hopefully these boosted streamflows will scatter them a bit and put more cover over their heads. Try an attractor (stonefly or egg) as your first fly and then drop a small dark nymph or soft hackle off the back on 6X.  A good stalk and good drift may be necessary as streams drop and clear over the weekend. Also, soften your indicators so they don’t land with a loud plop on thin, clear streams and spook your targets. Try a big dry fly on small streams and a yarn indi on bigger waters.

It’s second dose time for the NC DH streams, so travelers will find a combo of naive November newcomers and experienced October stockers. 


Pick your correct bugs and techniques for your targets . We help you here, at “DH University” on page Atlanta-2.


UO buddy RonW:

“The Trio hit The Tooga yesterday 11/5 and it didn't disappoint. We were the first ones there when we arrived before dawn. We geared up in the dark with headlamps and then walked the road in on the GA side. 

We worked our way to the top of the DH, all picking up fish here and there. After about 4 hours of fishing and a nice streamside lunch, we made our way back down to the crossing. We saw 4 other anglers there at the crossing, who ended up being the only other people we saw all day. 

We spent the rest of the day fishing all the way down to the lower crossing back over to the SC side. It rained on us more than 1/2 the day.  The fish didn't seem to mind though as we netted somewhere around 50 fish combined between the 3 of us. The odd thing was that all the fish we caught were all bows, not a single brown or brookie. I fished an olive bugger all day long and would occasionally add a dropper, either an egg or sift hackle which both worked, but not as well as the bugger. 

It was another great day on "The River" with my brothers.  Great fishing, food, scenery, and company. That's  a win in my book every time! “

UO friend Lumis hit the Nan DH last Saturday and said the fishing was slow for him.  It rained every other 10 minutes. He caught 3 fish but called it a day after 4 hours.


RonW: I pulled into the Paces Mill parking lot on Wednesday and discovered the DNR trout truck. He confirmed another load dumped in the DH section there. You’ll have to watch Morgan Falls Tailwater flow and turbidity to see when that DH will be fishable.

No other tailwater reports to us. Watch Devin’s reports at Orvis-Atlanta. Fall is a great time to strip streamers for big browns in both GA tailwaters.

Stocker Streams:

Slim pickings. Try the tailwaters and any public accesses below DH reaches, where you can pick up some wanderers.

Private Waters:

UO guide Caleb: “I had  a fun week of fishing with our clients on the Hooch and Soque properties.  I ended up using everything from double nymph rigs to small midge and BWO dry flies. Pulling small leech patterns and woolly buggers through the deep runs have consistently produced fish lately, too. Thursday morning we had a midge hatch that ended with some fine rainbows in the net. The Soque had a lot of midge action, while we had more Hooch success on leeches.”

UO guide and our favorite Cajun, Como, said he’s been having his best luck on a brown stonefly nymph and a root beer midge.

UO owner Jimmy: “This past Sunday Israel and I were privileged to volunteer for the Casting for Recovery retreat in Georgia.  Ten beautiful ladies with Stage IV Metastatic breast cancer got to experience, for the most part, their very first fishing trip for trout with a fly rod.  The water was low and clear and the fish were finicky but, in the end, most everyone hooked or landed fish.  The hot fly of the day in most cases was very small patterns like WD 40's fished just under the surface with no weight.  The rains this weekend should make the trout less spooky so now is the time to get out there!”

Warmwater Ponds and Rivers:

UO friend RSquared: “Streamflows have been so low, I have not fished for trout since the opening of the DH season in North Carolina. Hopefully, this week’s rain will rectify that problem. With several warm days this past week, My son Matt & I turned our attention from deer hunting to bass fishing and we have been catching good numbers with an occasional quality fish. Pictured is Matt with a nice largemouth. With predicted rainfall & dropping temperatures, I will be back chasing southern salmonids soon!”

Athens Jay passed this along from event organizer Tixie Fowler:

“Take urban teens outside and immerse them in experiential learning and what do you get? Happy teens! I loved connecting over 30 students from Brookwood HS (and their rock star teachers Carrie and Cole Hembree) with the awesome UGA/Warnell team - we got to explore the aquaponics lab, flew research drones, pet some residents of the deer research lab, ride in a full size boat AND run a remote controlled research boat, AND even hold some fish! Hopefully the experience makes some of the things they’re studying in class more meaningful…and inspires them to apply to Warnell!”


HenryC: “Fishing took a turn for the better this past week as the weather became overcast and drizzly. Perfect striper and spotted bass weather. Spots were chewing on top water baits and chasing small groups of threadfin shad around humps and off the points. Stripers are schooling on large schools of threadfin shad and we are getting a little help from our wildlife to find the large roving schools of striped demons. A little cold air wouldn't hurt... C'mon fall!

You only get 1 chance to catch your first striped bass and Christine decided she would catch hers on a fly rod.”

Check out the video of her epic battle at Henry’s IG page!


If you want to pursue these aquatic freight trains, grab a copy of Henry’s book soon:



UO staffers Jake and Lee set aside their fly rods for a brief road trip west.  Based on their photo, it looks like the smallie trip was a success!

UO buddy Michigan Ski: “My son and I arrived  at my PM cabin last Friday afternoon.  The water was low and gin clear.  We thought fishing was going to be tough this weekend, but Mother Nature helped out overnight by providing 1 1/2” of rain, raising flow and adding a little color to the water.  The salmon run had already passed and we were aiming for steelhead.

Instead of taking my drift boat, we booked a last-minute guide trip so that both of us could fish.  Saturday morning we floated a new stretch of water several miles downstream from where we normally float. The weather was overcast, drizzly, breezy and in the mid 50’s with severe storms predicted for mid afternoon. 

What a day! It ranked as one of my top fishing experiences in 30+ years of Michigan fishing. Our father/son duo had the opportunity to battle 13 steelhead, fresh from Lake Michigan. They were hot, athletic and airborne, making for tired shoulders and forearms by day’s end. It was well worth it. We managed to bring 6 to net, taping 18 to 29 inches and topping out around 9 pounds. We won some battles and lost others, as hooked fish aimed for the PM’s abundant logjams.

We used the Michigan chuck and duck method with egg patterns. The steelhead population in the PM is from natural reproduction (98%+)except for a few wayward stockers from other regions. All but one of our fish were wild hens. One lone buck had an adipose clip, showing that it was a stocker.

John K at Baldwin Bait & Tackle was a great guide and chef. He put us on fish and spoiled us with a lunch of grilled steaks on our boat. If you’re heading up this way, consider booking a trip with him. He’s at : https://fishbaldwin.com/.”

Weekend Events:

Check out the Great Orvis Road Show this weekend at our ATL friends’ stores: Orvis-Atlanta and Orvis-Alpharetta. Stop in; you just just might win that Land Cruiser.

Good luck this weekend as we dry out and cool down- a lot! Don’t forget your winter clothes and trouting techniques after Saturday. Stop in or call either UO store on your way up to some welcome hydrotherapy. And may we all honor our veterans on this special day for our country!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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