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 18, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report -11/18/22

Welcome to our holiday report. We hope there are a few days off coming to you and that you can wet a line. The local forecast shows that this early dose of winter will continue, 


so use the winter trout fishing techniques and patterns that we’ve tossed your way all this week. 


Streamflows are back up to their normal November levels after the last two rains. They’re still low and clear and now cold in the mornings. 

Remember that the winter sun is your friend, so aim for the warmest water of the day:  11AM to 4PM.  

Use your stream thermometer as a strike indicator: the closer to 50F, the better. If the water is closer to 40, expect sluggish fish and the need to put your fly right on their nose. Bigger waters with more sun will now fish better than high elevation, shaded streams due to water temps. If you’re at home watching stream gauges before you go, know that the Hooch-Helen and upper Tooga gauges both measure water temps, too. And if you see Centigrade and want Fahrenheit, remember this hint: double the degrees C and add 30.

Stealth, light line, and small flies will enhance your success. See our private waters reports for intel that you can use anywhere.

Henry reports good surface action on the lakes. Burn some gas to find bait schools and/or breaking fish.  If you’re lucky, the birds might give you hints, too, as you watch your fishfinders closely. See his report for details.

GA Power is releasing water into Tallulah Gorge this weekend, so take a quick detour to watch the whitewater.


Our angler reports, Wes’ hot fly list, and more pics are in our full report. Just go to our home page, unicoioutfitters.com, and click on “fishing reports.” 

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: comparadun BWO, Griffith gnat, parachute Adams.

Nymphs & Wets:

Micro mayfly, soft hackle partridge, mop fly, squirminator, diamond and  root beer midges.

Streamers & warm water:

Simi seal leech, sparkle minnow, jiggy craw, Cowen’s Something Else and olive/white clousers for stripers.


They’re fairly low, very clear, and cold.  Find some sun and expect many more hits on your dropper than your para-Adams or Stimulator. A small hares ear or Frenchie is a great dropper right now.  Make sure it gets down.

GAWRD biologist John Damer had a nice trip that he wrote up for this week’s agency fishing blog, which should be published later today. After fishing with him a few years ago, I nicknamed him Deadly Damer. I think he’s part heron!  Don’t miss his wild trout intel.


Smokies reports below.  Note that they’re colder than we are, so fish accordingly or stay south or at lower elevation streams.

Fresh reports here:


And here:


The best part of Byron’s report is “don’t fall in. And bring a dry change of clothes if you do.”


Delayed Harvest:

Smith DH anglers whom I ran across while hiking streamside this week reported slow picks. A lime squirmy did pretty well for one angler who fished the higher, midweek water. A red zebra midge coaxed several to hand for yesterday’s angler.  Streamflow has dropped and cleared, so light lines and small nymphs and midges will be a best bet. If the PM sun shines, watch for a few midge sippers. Remember that Smith runs a few degrees warmer than nearby streams due to the lake. It was 56F at 2PM today. 

Web reports show the Chattooga fishing well. Again, check water temps and get down to those fish if the water is closer to 40F than 50F. Long, thin tippets to get flies down on pool bottoms will enhance your photo opportunities.

With our low rainfall, the Toccoa DH is a best bet right now. Take advantage of its wadeable flows while they last. Winter rains will soon make this more of a float fishery than a wade fishery.  Over there, consider a short tapered leader or none at all Use a long section of 3 or 4X tippet to cut thru the current and reach the bottom of deep pools and runs. Attach a foot of 5X tippet and then tie on an egg, rubberleg stone, or small leech or bugger. If you can cast that rig without too much trouble, then add a small prince nymph or rainbow warrior as a dropper. Fish will bunch up in flood refuges over there, so if you find one, it may have several more friends at that same address.


UO friend RonW:  “The Trio ventured up across the state line last Saturday the 12th to fish a DH stream. We arrived to several cars, each with multiple anglers gearing up. Once we got in the creek, however, it seemed like we had the whole place to ourselves.

 Despite the change in weather It was an off day; I’m not sure if it was the fish or us.  I started off with a streamer and landed 4 fish in the first run I stepped into.  I committed to the streamer and decided I was going to hunt for bigguns'.  Well, I found two, both under the same log/boulder jam and both came out fast to check out my streamer. The bigger of the two even tried to smash it twice. I just couldn't connect for some reason, most likely due to the rod angle and awkward lie of the fish.  After multiple fly changes and a few lost streamers,  I decided to tuck my tail and leave to find new fish.  I spent the rest of the day scratching out 4 more fish and a few lost fish. 

Moe and I called it quits around 4:30 and waited for Kurt to make it back to the truck. They both wore them out fishing legs and eggs, and probably landed 3 times as many as I did.  It was another fantastic day on the water with great friends. Fish were caught, laughs were had and memories were made.  Nothing like a little hydrotherapy! “

Remember the NC DH redosings:



UO friend Splatek: The Hooch Tailwater was tough on Wednesday.  It was so windy that I could barely get my flies in the water. I had a few subtle hits when I dredged my small nymphs deep with split shot, but had little to show for it. It was still nice just to get out and wet a line. Fishing should improve as our weather settles down.”

UO friend Dominic has been paying his dues on the Hooch Tailwater. It paid off handsomely for him this week, as a fat, buttery brown inhaled his rubberleg stone. Congrats to Dom! Enjoy his pic.

Stocker Streams:

Broken record:  slim pickings during the off-season as hatchery space is filled with subcatchables being grown for next spring.  Try the tailwaters and any public accesses below DH reaches, where you can pick up some wanderers. The border river’s bridge crossings are good spots, too.

Private Waters:

UO guide Ben:  “While guiding at Nacoochee Bend this week my client landed a really nice bow on a white squirmy. The boosted flow from that rain helped the fishing a bit.”

UO guide Caleb:  “This couple from Atlanta had a great morning at Rainbow Point on the Soque last weekend after the rain cleared out. The fish were keyed in on small soft hackles and black midges.”

UO manager Jake: “Rainbow Point on the Soque fished well yesterday despite the frigid temps. The water level hasn't risen much with the rains earlier this week, but the fish know winter is coming and they seem to be fattening up. The key for me was 5 or 6x fluorocarbon tippet, and plenty of split shot to get our flies down to them. We landed fish on small eggs, with various midge patterns trailing them. My two best midge patterns were a Diamond Midge and a Root Beer Midge, which we just got a fresh supply of at the Helen shop.”


UO friend Landon: “We hit some lights on Monday night, but there were few fish on them and they were small.  Cowen’s Something Else did what little damage we could muster.”

HenryC: “Striper fishing remains active. Fish are feeding on the surface but are not always easy to feed. Compared to last November the fishing is definitely better. Fish are feeding both in the AM and the PM.  Anglers need to dress for the cold weather settling in this past week and through all of next week. Fish are eating small flies. Somethin else, small polar fiber minnows, Clousers and small game changers are your best bet. Anglers need to fish with a sense of urgency as the fish are up and down rather quickly.”



Our MI buddy, Ski, made the tackle shop’s weekly report. We thought we’d share another nice steelhead pic (first pic, above) and that pic-heavy report:


That’s a wrap on the latest happenings from the frozen tundra of north GA. Dress warmly, follow the sun, and use your low, clear water techniques for some fun days astream. Hunt for big stripers on the lakes and you might find a true trophy, too.  Have a great holiday week, filled with some fun outdoor memories. Stop in either UO store to warm up, snag some hot intel, and net a holiday gift or two. Good luck!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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