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 4, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report -11/4/22

Welcome to November!  Forthcoming days will be warm, dry, leafy, and shorter with Sunday’s time change. That time change is good news, since you can start earlier in the day, fish til dark, and still arrive home at a decent hour.

Running waters are still very low and clear up here. Halloween’s inch of rain bumped up streamflows for only a day until they fell back to droughty levels. Best bets for trout  fans are still headwater,  Delayed Harvest, and private waters opportunities. 

USGS Graphs: Hooch in Helen

Our trouting advice remains the same: dress like a rhododendron bush and stalk your prey like a great blue heron. Use long, light leaders and limit your false casts. On headwaters, subsurface bugs are outfishing dries right now. Dry action might improve with next week’s warmth. DH fish have eaten junk flies, but are smartening up quickly in the low flows and will soon demand small bugs and good drifts. Private waters residents have seen lotsa flies, so be ready to change patterns often and show them something different. Our reporter trio tells you what worked for them this week.

On the warmwater front, there’s still some hope for ponds and rivers. Just dredge them, as Jay suggests in our full report. Lake fans have some shots at hefty spots and double-digit stripers. The challenge is to track down the surfacing schools before they dive.  That plan can still pay off with a 30+ inch striper, as HenryC explains in our full report.

Check out that full report on our home and Facebook pages. We also loaded you up with fall trouting tips at blog.angler.management. Here we go:

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: comparadun BWO, Griffith gnat, stimulator.

Nymphs & Wets:

Micro mayfly, soft hackle partridge, rainbow warrior, squirmy worm, frenchie.

Streamers & warm water:

Kreelex, muddy buddy, simi seal leech, feather changer.


Splatek: “My buddy fished a wild stream north of Helen. He said the water was low even the day after a rain, but that the fish were hungry. He caught about 30 small, wild rainbows in about 2 hours.   No dry bite. All nymphs: natural patterns in clear pools, and brighter attractors in stained water.”

Delayed Harvest:

Note my fresh posts about the November 1 bucket brigades, a great co-op between local GATU volunteers and GA’s state and federal trout hatchery staffs. While those vols did a great job of spreading out the DH stockers, those fish will remain bunched up at their bucket-dump sites til a good rain bumps up flows and spreads them out. So cover some ground right now til you find a sweet spot.

Also note my fresh report on the flight of the border bird. More fish will hopefully go into the Tooga backcountry in the next week or two, weather and copter schedule permitting.

NC DH streams should fish well but still be a bit of a challenge with low flows. The October opener crowds usually disperse by now and you should have more stream to yourself, especially if you arrive off-peak (Sunday afternoon or weekdays except Friday).

RonW: “Stacey and I took a trip up to NC last weekend to further celebrate our 20th anniversary. We made a pit stop on the Nanty DH, where we found the lower parking area a ghost town. Perfect spot to wet a quick line and walk the dog.  I threw on the waders and fished the 200 yards of pocket water up to the first bridge.  I started with my olive ostrich bugger with a black soft hackle dropper and didn't need to change.  I spent about 30 minutes on this stretch and landed 8 fish. All but 2 came on the bugger and most were while stripping and twitching it across the current vs dead drifting or swinging it. I also got a Nanty slam with a sweet 16" brown who absolutely freight trained and  T-Boned the bugger.  Definitely the coolest eat all day as I saw it all unfold.  

We bailed from there and went up top where I spent another 20 minutes fishing one run with no luck and zero fish seen.  We were back in the truck and on the road heading further north towards Bryson City. We stopped  in town for some sandwiches and then headed towards the Tuck DH. We checked out Island Park, which turned out to be really cool and great spot to swim the dog. I fished for about an hour, landing 2 on the Girdlestone and 5 more on the olive bugger.  We putted around some before it was time to head back south.  Another pit stop, this time for some BBQ in Murphy and then we were back on the road headed home, just in time for the Fall Classic. 

It was an absolutely fantastic day spent with  my better half up in the mountains. Beautiful drive, great weather,  colored up forests, good food, good music, great conversation, plenty of laughs and even a little hydrotherapy.  Life is good and my batteries are recharged!”


No recent reports to us. Web reports suggest they’re fishing well. Toss some streamers for the Hooch’s aggressive fall browns. Better yet, book a trip with our buddy, Chris Scalley, and learn from that river sage and his stable of guides.

Stocker Streams:

Same as last week: 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. Note that GAWRD’s stocking report last Friday listed Vogel Lake and the Blue Ridge Tailwater. Be careful on tailwaters due to dam discharges!

Private Waters:

UO guide Caleb: “We found success at the Bend Thursday  afternoon. Weighted Midge patterns brought in a couple fish but the real key was small streamers like leeches and woolly buggers. These fish have started seeing lots of flies, so don’t be agreed to dig deep in your box and try something they might not have seen.”

UO owner Jimmy: “I spent Sunday at Nacoochee Bend with a group from Reeling In Recovery. The water was low and clear and the fish quickly became leery. Changing up flies was critical. Most action was on leech patterns and soft hackles. Junk food flies were not productive for me at all.”

UO manager Jake: “I spent Tuesday morning with Dakota over at Soque Camp. With the recent small amount of rain, the stream was up slightly, and the fishing did improve from the slight bump in flow. We had a really great morning, hooking well over two dozen fish. All of our damage came nymphing, with hot flies being small soft hackles, Skwala stoneflies, and midges. The keys for me were stepping down in tippet sizes, along with using yarn indicators, which are much more sensitive in detecting the bite in low water.”

Warmwater Ponds and Rivers:

Athens Jay: “Just because it’s November, don’t give up on warm water fish. In ponds, fish are holding deeper, but still hungry enough to be looking for a meal. Use a long fluorocarbon leader (10-12’) and a weighted streamer made with marabou and bunny fur. In ponds with threadfin shad, throw white.

 Piedmont rivers are really low and clear. Feeling adventurous? Try a little November wet-wading. River bass will still eat a streamer, black or brown. I recommend a sink tip line. It’s invigorating!”


HenryC: “Fishing on Lake Lanier is still not where we would like it to be but it is showing signs of moving in the right direction. While we are seeing some BIG groups of surfacing fish, the fish are not staying up long, so targeting them is frustrating to say the least. 

Fortunately there is another pattern where we can target large single fish and that bite allows us to catch a fish or two that are between 10-16 pounds. 

The bass are starting to wake up and get aggressive,  too, so that opens up more opportunities on the fly.  It's a mixed bag and everyday is different. But it's clearly better than last years bite...”


There is more good reservoir intel in today’s WRD blog:

. https://georgiawildlife.blog/2022/11/04/georgia-fishing-report-november-4-2022/ 

We hope your November kickoff is a good one. And good luck to all the folks in Athens tomorrow. Give us a call or stop in either UO store if we can lead you to some fine fall fishing.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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