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, February 10, 2023

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report -2/10/23

We have a soggy Super Bowl weekend ahead of us, but there’s still plenty of good news to counter the rainy predictions. First, our trout streams are low, clear, and relatively warm for this time of year.  The predicted 3/4 inch of rain tomorrow shouldn’t bump them up too badly, except for the biggest watersheds like Toccoa DH.

Second, the rain up here should last from lunch tomorrow til lunch Sunday. That means most trout streams will be fishable all day tomorrow for headstrong folks with good raincoats. On Sunday morning, just be careful of possible icy roads at high elevations. Some extra water in the small creeks should be good for the fishing.

Cloudy, rainy weather also pulls shad,  spots, and stripers toward the surface, so the dreary forecast might be a real gift for lake fans.

Warm weather also has local pond predators cruising the shallows and river bass hunting for some meals. See our report for details.

GAWRD’s fishing blog today had hot intel (walleyes, tailwater caddis, lake trout stockings). and a vol call to y’all for a 2/20 Hooch DH stocking. We have a link in our full report.

We hope you can fit a trip around Sunday’s Big Game. If not, then next week looks warm and dry if you can escape on an uncrowded weekday.  Check out our full fishing report and Wes’ hot fly list via our home page or at 


Good luck!

Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries: parachute BWO, Griffith’s gnat.

Nymphs & Wets:

Chartreuse egg, mighty may baetis, Violet midge, WD-40, RS2

Streamers & warm water:

Simi seal leech, sparkle minnow, finesse changer, Clouser minnow. Cowen’s Somethin Else.


They’re running clear and a little warm for this time of year.  “Warm in winter” is a good thing!  At lunch today, Spoilcane was 52F and Smith DH was 50F. Flows were decent, and the rain should boost them for a short time. Higher flows push blueline trout into flood refuges behind boulders and against the banks. Try a fluffy dry as a strike indicator and a 12-18 inch dropper of a heavy nymph. Hi-stick those soft water refuges and it should be game-on.

Splatek said he and his young sidekick did some bear scouting, with rod in hand as they hiked along a blueline. He said the fishing was fun but the catching was slow, with two little bows and one speck succumbing to his small black nymph. There were little black stonefly adults everywhere.

Ed note: it’s rainbow romance time. Past research by Bill Couch and yours truly showed that most of GA’s wild, headwater bows spawned from January to mid-March, with the peak of activity during the last month of that period. So if you see paired fish or polished gravels, consider giving those spots a wide berth to ensure the next crop of bows.  You might also encounter some big bows migrating from private waters up through public accesses on their hunt for tribs with clean gravels. Good luck and be sure not to trespass on private property.

Smokies streams have dropped and warmed. They could be a good bet for nymph dredgers. Byron also gave a heads-up on the park’s bug hatches on the horizon. Check out his daily report here:


Delayed Harvest:

 Most are fishing well, thanks to last week’s stockings. Web reports show that the Chattooga is hot.  

Smith was good for everyone last week, as fish hit anything thrown at them. This week they have gotten a bit pickier. I think the best bait has been a good drift. Rookies have struck out, while vets with good technique are still doing well on eggs, squirmies, mops, and nymphs.   This intel is as fresh as my noon streamside hike today.

UO buddy Nanette:  We fished Smith DH this week and hooked a bunch.  Most of the little buggers freed themselves before we could net them! We had success with eggs, a variety of nymphs, and I also caught a feisty little brown on a BWO once I saw hatches coming off the water. Seeing that tiny tornado streak up and inhale the dry was a blast. Fun day with gorgeous springlike weather!”

To beat the Smith crowds, try it early or late. If you’re first to the pool and it has shade on it, your odds are good.  If you stay late and outlast most weekend warriors, those shadows will make fish more comfortable to feed again. And if you stay real late, you might discover the midge-sippers during the last hour of daylight.

UO buddy CDB just provided a late report:

Coming in late, but here’s this weeks update. Streamer time!  

I was able to fish my favorite delayed harvest stream as well as private waters this week.  Different days, different streams, different weather, but the story was the same.  The Dredger’s juniors and seniors have now graduated. And they want something big and tasty to eat. 

Success was had on a variety of streamers. As small as a size 8, and the biggest was a size 2.  On the sunny day brighter colors were the ticket. White, chartreuse and olive woolly bugger’s worked well.  Olive sculpins  worked well also.

In the rain and clouds brown and black buggers worked well. Size 6 Thin Mint woolly buggers worked well both days. If you run the streamer through a fishing run, that you are confident holds fish and you do not pick one up, either change your retrieve or change your color - you will get a take. Those big guys, and especially some of the bigger fish that were stocked nice and fat from the hatchery are hungry.

Fish your run just like you would with a dry fly - target close to you and work your way out and paint the water. Don’t overlook skinny water. If it’s up to your knees there could be good trout in there. One of the better trout of the two days was in a pocket not much bigger than a laundry sink surrounded by relatively shallow water. 

While good trout were taken on sixes and eights, the best one of the week was on a big, single hook, size 2 articulated chartreuse sculpin with a lot of weight on it to get it down deep.   

This is not to say they won’t take girdle bugs and Big Stone flies in some of the other common patterns people are throwing. But the action was steady, and the fish nice and solid with the streamers.”

Other Trout Waters:

Check out Landon’s video of his Bavarian adventure. His egg/nymph combo was effective in the bigger water.


Private Waters:

We are short on reports this week. Most of us were tending the UO booth at the ATL fly show. Our trips this week were unguided and we didn’t hear back from those Nacoochee Bend anglers before they left. They should have done well on small egg patterns, nymphs, and midges. The water looked very inviting today at noon, and a decent rain will only make it better with a bump in flow and some stain in the water. Call the shop if you’d like to book a last minute trip to take advantage of a warm day.


UO guide Israel enjoyed his off day by floating one of the Lanier tribs. He said river bassing was good during the warm spell.

UO friend RSquared checked in:

“The Toccoa DH was running too high & fast for safe wading yesterday so Steve & I took my jon boat to the Etowah River. It was very muddy & cold but we managed to land several small Alabama Bass. I like to use white flies in minnow patterns during muddy conditions.”


HenryC: “ Fishing on Lanier continues to be a hit or miss process and the fish are positively spreading all over the lake. Fishing north in both river systems is your best bet. Look for birds as structure is not helping much yet. That should change shortly. The bass seem to be waking up a little bit.  Gabe from the Fish Hawk joined me and we had a good trip this morning.

Small flies are the ticket once again, and the fish (be it stripers or bass) can be found eating at anytime. Early, midday and late have all seen fish caught. The key is how to predict when the feed will occur. Only Jimmy Harris knows this and won't share it with anyone.”



Athens Jay: “Bass are moving up into the warmer, shallow water and feeding actively on large streamers. If you have a sink tip line, those streamers work great swimming them in 2 to 4 feet of water.”

Todays WRD blog said that several small lakes got some WRD trout this week. Check out the other hot intel from your state biologists, and noticed their Hooch trout stocking vol call:


Trout Board Revival:

Fans of the North GA Trout Online message board will be excited to know that is has been overhauled and restored. It’s much easier to post fishing reports and attach photos once again. Give it a try soon.  


Version 1 of the old board is still around, with two decades of historic trouting info that benefits all newcomers to fly rodding for trout.

Work around or through The Rain and The Game for some fishing fun this weekend. Or wait out both events and flex your off day til a sunny, warm afternoon next week. There are still a lot of good choices on your February fishing menu. Good luck. Stop in either shop if we can help you further.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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