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, December 2, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report -12/2/22

Things are looking up in our corner of the state. We had 2.5 inches of rain at midweek that boosted streamflows. While most of that rainfall has already run off, at least our streams have recovered a bit from their droughty fall flows. With more rain expected in the days ahead, flows and fishability should both increase.

We had two chilly post-front days, but our weather has started a warming trend that should raise stream temps and your catch rates. Again, match your flies to the flows and you’ll do well. Focus on Wes’ hot fly list and the bugs that worked for this week’s reporters.

Headwaters may still be tough with cold water, so focus on longer droppers to your nymphs hanging below your buoyant dry fly indicator. DH streams will fish well for Euronymphers and Airlock indi watchers.

Stripers are still playing the same game of hide-and-seek. Large size is still compensating for lower numbers, as fish are scattered. Birdwatching is the key to success, so don’t forget your binoculars for the loons and gulls and your Humminbird for the bait schools.

Good luck this week as we crawl into winter with a mild, fall-like weather forecast.  Check out our full fishing report and Wes’ hot fly list via the link on our home page.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries: comparadun BWO, Elk hair caddis, Parachute Adams.

Nymphs & Wets:

Peach egg, split case, micro mayfly, jig girdle bug, rainbow warrior, root beer midge.

Streamers & warm water:

Simi seal leech, sparkle minnow, finesse changer, clouser minnow.


The few reporters told us that catching was slow in the low, clear water. This emphasizes the importance of camo, stealth, and soft-landing flies on wispy 6X tippets. Go bigger on bugs and line when you’re lucky enough to fish some storm flows. Look for water temps as far above 40F that you can find.

Smokies streams are on higher mountains and are colder. You’ll have to slow-dredge for those frozen fish.   Smokies intel here:


Delayed Harvest:


Last Sunday afternoon I ran across Roger from Dallas, who took his son to Smith DH while he and his grandson hiked and skipped rocks. Kaleb did well by light-lining some small eggs and nymphs in the low, clear water.

“Hey Mr. Dredger,

This is Emaly, we chatted earlier. So nice speaking with you. Heres the pretty Smith Creek DH Brookie from today (25th). I caught it in about a 2ft pool on a zebra midge. Hope to run into you again soon!”

I ran into UO friend KenK this week while hiking along Smith Creek DH after the rain. Ken said he mopped up the fish on a mop fly in the better flows.

Go fish the bigger DH streams while flows are good for wading and before winter rains start blowing them out. Euro the riffles and runs and Indi-fish the larger pools with long, light tippet and enough shot to dredge your bugs.


No recent reports. It’s been a while since the October and November stockers found their freedom, so try smaller flies for these better-educated fish. Consider a flashier first fly, like a small egg or lightning bug, trailed by a small imitator like a #16 hares ear or #18 or 20 pheasant tail. Pay attention to water temperatures and follow the sun.


UO buddy RonW: “I was able to sneak out to Paces Mill from about noon till 3 on the 25th.  The water was up a little and off color, with visibility not much more than 16 -18".  I started upstream of the ramp and worked my way down below the big rock. I started off with a bugger and an egg and quickly switched to a Conehead Bunny Muddler for more weight as my shot went missing. That was the ticket!  Caught a few on the Muddler but most came on the egg. Both dead drifting and swinging were effective. I went back up to the run I started in and whacked them pretty good on a #16 Partridge and purple. About 6 fish in twice as many casts and it was time to call it a day. I ended up with a dozen to hand It and almost as many LFR's. It was nice to sneak out and work off some of the "feast"  from yesterday! Now where's that leftover turkey.

I stopped by Paces Mill again on Tuesday 11/29 after my morning rounds.  I fished from 12 -1, starting just above the ramp and working  down to just below the big rock. I wanted to see how my new wool head sculpin fished and I can say it fished well. 1st cast landed me a "snit" rainbow who chased the Sculp 12' across the current and then smashed it about 6' away from me. It was a pretty cool 1st eat on a new fly I tied.  I ended up with 2 more bows to hand and just as many LDR's as I  swung and stripped the streamer while working downstream. I'd say it was a productive and successful hour of Hydrotherapy which put me in the right mindset to go home and tackle a mound of emails.”

Stocker Streams:

Broken record:  slim pickings during the off-season as hatchery space is filled with subcatchables being grown for next spring.  Try Vogel Lake, the 2 tailwaters, and any public accesses below DH reaches, where you can pick up some wanderers. Both GA tailwaters  got a pre-holiday helping from GAWRD.  The border river’s bridge crossings are good spots, too.

Private Waters:

The story remains the same on the Soque and Hooch:  smaller eggs, nymphs, soft hackles, and midges have been most effective during periods of low, clear flows. Meatier nymphs and even some streamers have done well when rivers swell up after a good rain.

New UO friend JeffC from FL spent the holiday with his family in a cabin on private waters. He said they enjoyed learning this new area and caught several rainbows on dry/dropper rigs during their weekend stay. He said his wife outfished him again, as usual. They learned that the abundant, small dry fly sinkers were warpaint shiners, a new species for them.

Private waters should fish better as more frequent rains boost flows and force fish to make quicker decisions on potential food items. Get out there soon before truly cold temperatures hit us.


HenryC: “Fishing on Lanier remains pretty good. Some days are better than others but the size of the fish this fall has been extraordinary. All fish have been over 10 lbs. Bass fishing is tough for fly rodders as the fish are stuck on the bottom. Small flies are the ticket for Lanier anglers... micro game changers and somethin' else flies are easily your best bets. Next 10 days look promising as weather is perfect for feeding fish. Some days they're eating early and some days late. Midday bites should fire up with cloud cover. See you on the pond... GO DAWGS!”


Jimmy and Kathy had some time recently to get out on Lake Lanier to see if the stripers were ready to play.  Not much action but they did find some gulls and loons going crazy at the mouth of a creek.  One cast into the melee and Kathy was hooked into a 13.5 lb freight train that simply refused to come on board for a photo.  Her persistence finally paid off and the fish was brought to the net.  Kathy's biggest striper to date.

UO friend Landon was stuck working but said his buddy, Brandon, found some Lanier fish coming up in the clouds as the sun fell.

UO guide Ben:  “Here's a 7lb largemouth bass that I caught on my off day. I caught him in deep water by flipping a jig in heavy cover on a public water North Georgia lake.”

More great intel from our state fish biologists here:



UO guide Caleb: “Louisiana treated us well on Monday despite getting rained out on Tuesday. We spent most of the day casting at crawling redfish. The fly didn’t seem to matter as long as the fish saw it!”

UO guide and LA native Como went home for the holiday and got on some bull reds with his old friends.  Fresh shrimp on a Carolina rig was their key to success in the delta.

There’s your post-holiday report.   Stop in either UO store to warm up, catch the freshest intel, and do a little holiday shopping. Good luck!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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