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 9, 2022

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report -12/9/22

We’ve gotta call this week’s report “an early Christmas present.”  The combination of 3 inches of rain and mild weather has area trout streams flowing well, with temperatures in the prime trout zone. Warm air has made recent days astream very angler-friendly, too. You have about one more week left of this prime fishing window before winter lands on us, so go enjoy this early gift soon!

Stream trout have responded well. Even headwater fish thawed out and bit better, while river trout in private waters and DH stretches had enhanced appetites in the better currents, with more depth to hide them from predators.  Toccoa DH is too high to wade, but good for floating.

Downriver, our bass sections are cold (for bass) and muddy. I saw a few feet of Hooch visibility today at Hwy 115, while Jimmy said it was muddy at Duncan Bridge due to the Soque. Consider sticking with upstream trout. 

Hank said reservoir stripers keep improving each week. Biologist Hunter told me those double-

digit Lanier stripers are from good year-classes of one-inch fingerlings his agency stocked in 2016, 17 and especially 18.

Check out Wes’ hot fly list and the equally hot intel from our guides and friends. It’s all on the long version of this report on our home and Facebook pages.

Good luck. Grab a raincoat, dodge those showers, give thanks for the rain, and enjoy the gift of a March week in December. Stop by either UO shop for supplies and a holiday gift or two.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries: parachute BWO, Griffith Gnat.

Nymphs & Wets:

Slush egg, jig girdle bug, lightning bug, diamond midge, holy grail, flashback baetis, and small soft hackles.

Streamers & warm water:

Simi seal leech, sparkle minnow, finesse changer, black woolly bugger, clouser minnow.


They looked great today. They’ve dropped and cleared, but still had good flies. Warm nights have the waters warm. Would you believe Spoilcane ran 58F at noon today? Try dry-droppers and you might get a few to look up.

UO friend Megan:  “Hey Jeff! Love your reports. I snagged a last minute walk-up spot on Duke’s Sunday. Water levels still super low but better than they were a month ago! I made my way to the end of section 4 and worked my way up with very little to show other than some hungry little ones. When I put on a green/brown PRL, things started to heat up. This guy took me on four runs downstream before I got him in the net. It was a great day - with some healthy looking fish to the net!”

UO friend RSquared: “I started the day off on my favorite Ga. DH stream. The water was high & fast but I knew a couple of safe spots that held fish. After playing with a few stockers using a Girdle bug, I went to check on some of the wild trout streams. It sure was good to see water in them again.  A small black stone fly & Pheasant Tail worked on the wild ones. It rained some, but that did not affect the trout!”

Smokies streams are colder than ours, but still pushing 50 degrees during this warm spell.   They’ve been pounded by rain, however, and are still running real high.  Wading doesn’t look very safe unless you’re way up on some headwaters. Check USGS gauges and Byron’s daily Smokies intel here before taking that long drive.


Delayed Harvest:

Smith DH had dropped and cleared today, but still had good flows. It ran 54F due to the lake.  Only three cars were in the lot at noon. Aim for a weekday if you can or go early or late to beat the weekend crowds. Try an egg, but be ready to switch to midges on 6 or 7X if fish are now experienced and off the junk food.

Athens Jay shared a tale from his buddy, Charlie:  “I fished IDBIS River in the steady light rain on Monday as the initial weather report said it was overcast and in the 50's. Reality was a little different. Upon arrival it was 42 degrees with a steady light rain. I left my rain gear at home so it wouldn't get wet.  So I hiked in anyway. 

As previously, the fish seemed to be in the deepest holes although the rain made spotting fish difficult. 

While the fish studiously ignored pheasant tails, hare’s ear, and prince nymphs, the fishing was very good using egg patterns fished deep bouncing along the bottom. Quite a number of fish in the 11-12 inch range. First and last fish of day were representative of the entire bunch. 

The best news of the day was that while soaked to the skin after hiking back to car, my socks remained dry. My new waders worked!”

Jay had another second-hand report: ““Oconee River TU members Charlie and Danny took a day trip to a NC DH stream last following the heavy rains earlier in the week. Water levels were still elevated, which had the fish bunched up in the slower, deeper water, and at the pool tail outs. Weather was cool and overcast, but the fishing was hot. Egg patterns, hares ear, and mop fies fished deep and slow produced fish throughout the day.”


Check out Hunter Roop’s hot Hooch intel in today’s WRD fishing blog. Note the date and time for his next Vol Call and your chance to tote some trout into the Hooch DH section. Have your home-for-the-holiday kids ready for some fun.


Private Waters:

Our recent 3 inches of rain recharged our rivers and their residents. Our guides like Devin had real good luck stripping streamers during the flow peaks. Devin said the best patterns were “big and black.”

Yesterday, as flows dropped and cleared, Jimmy’s Nacoochee Bend guests had best luck on dredged egg patterns, with small, swung soft hackles placing second, and stripped woolly buggers coming in a distant third.  I watched a lot of fish suspended a few feet under the surface and sipping the drift, with even a few risers spotted. Dry and wet midges will still be a best bet, too.

Jimmy: “Unicoi Outfitters had the pleasure of hosting the UGA Warnell School of Forestry Dean's Advisory Board at Nacoochee Bend on Thursday.  With a mix of novice and experienced fly anglers, everyone had a good time with 72-degree weather on December 8th.”

UO manager Jake: “I spent two days with repeat clients, Keith and Bobby on the Soque River a couple of days ago. The recent rains have really improved the bite since the fish seem much more comfortable now. All of our damage was done both days nymph fishing, with some of the best producers being diamond midges, duracell nymphs, soft hackles, and stoneflies. The streams are in great shape, and should fish really well this weekend now that we are at normal flow. “

UO guide Caleb: “Despite the rain, Soque Camp produced some big fish. All on egg patterns and small midges like zebras and diamond midges.”

UO guide Como echoed Caleb’s report.


Athens Jay hit a local lake during the warm spell and cleaned up on crappie. He said: “Black or white streamers made with lots of bunny fur worked equally well.”


HenryC: “This past week fishing on Lanier was pretty darn strong. Weather has much to do with the successes seen this week. Striped bass and even some spotted bass could be seen schooling on the surface in both large and small groups. This feeding could happen anytime of the day. You just have to burn gas and find feeding fish. Size again this week has been really good with nearly all striped bass being caught, over 10lbs. Biggest fish this week topped the scales at 16lbs. As you read this report we will be coming off the full moon so I expect fishing will slow down just a little but still could enough to put a few fish in the boat. As of today we are now booking January which is one of my favorite striped bass months.”


Ed Note: want a great stocking stuffer? Buy Hank’s striper book!

More hot reservoir intel from our state fish biologists here:


Our friend Capt Mack always has great striper intel, too:


Go unwrap this early gift. Get on the water soon before you need handwarmers and three pairs of socks. Visit or call either UO store if we can help with advice, flies, or gift ideas. Our gift certificates are hard to beat!



Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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