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, March 10, 2023

UO Fishing Report 3/10/23

Let’s spring forward into the best fishing season of the year.  Our region received no more than 1/4 inch of rain last nite, so area streams remain in great shape. Same goes for your favorite creeks just north of the border. Today and tomorrow are prime, Sunday’s a washout, and next week chills down a bit. While dry fly action may slow, your afternoon dropper and streamer action should still be hot as Sunday’s high flows recede.


Ponds and lakes are firing up, too, with bass and crappie cruising the shallows. Reservoir stripers are on the hunt, but hunting them down yourselves remains a challenge. Henry said the spots have turned hot and will mitigate your striper catch rates while you wait out that twelve pounder.  Overcast, rainy weather is a striper anglers’s best friend, too.

The weekend time change is a game changer. Now we’ll have plenty of daylight hours left after a school or work day to sneak in a local fishing trip. Weekend warriors can get their chores done in the morning and still have plenty of remaining sunshine to visit distant waters.

Just bring a warm shirt for the chilly mornings, a raincoat for the spring showers, and some good allergy meds for our heavy pollen hatch.  May you hookset more than sneeze this week!  We have a ton of intel to share in our full report for savvy anglers willing to click twice on the web.  Take a look and you’ll set the hook often next week. Good luck!

Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries: elk hair caddis, Parachute Adams.

Nymphs & Wets:

Squirmy worm, jiggy pats rubber leg, hot rib Duracell, soft hackle Hare’s ear, Sexy Walt’s, twisted Mayfly.

Streamers & warm water:

Complex twist bugger, UV polar jig, Finesse changer.


Headwaters have been in great shape and have fished well for blueline fans. While droppers have outfished dries, enough wild fish have looked up to excite dry fly fans. The topwater bite might slow a bit with next week’s cool-down, but keep tossing those dries on warm afternoons when waters get past 50 degrees.

UO buddy JT: “Earlier this week, I fished at notellum creek on the national forest, looking to capitalize on the warmer, sunshiny days (and my much-needed off time). Although the water ran quite low in these little streams, I still had some solid luck! Because of the warmer temps, I thought for sure the fish would be looking up, but I caught most wild ‘bows on the dropper and not the dry! My most successful dropper flies were a pheasant tail green flash or a rainbow warrior. The rainbow warrior hooked into a couple of beautiful wild ‘bows.  Also, for the dry, the little wild browns and bows preferred a hi-viz griffith’s gnat (size 22 for the spooky ones) or a yellow/orange stimulator with small legs.”

UO buddy Splatek: “The boys and I caught a mess of little wild rainbows at about 2400 feet. Our hot bug was a bright bead egg fly drifted through pools and pockets.”

Delayed Harvest:

Both state agencies redosed their DH waters at the first of the month, so the GA and NC waters have fished really well. Fresh stockers have eaten anything thrown at them (worms, eggs, and small buggers are your top trio) while winter survivors are selecting realistic patterns like hares ears, pheasant tails, and midges.

UO buddy CDB: 

“A Tale of Two Tactics

The past week’s beautiful, sunny days necessitated a change in tactics between mornings and afternoons. Be flexible and be willing to change out when your favorite pattern stops delivering the goods. 

Private water and DH water fished similarly this week, except the for waters that were stocked last week. Squirmy worms were less productive than anticipated, but girdle bugs and rubber legs were very productive in the mornings. We mostly fished 2-nymph rigs and, given the consistency of the rubber legs, we ended up running 2 rubber legs on the rig, or just fishing a single for simplicity sake. Olive and black or rust and black patterns in size 8-10 were consistent winners. Remember, the water is warming up and the fish are looking up, so they are often suspending higher in the water column. More than 50% of our takes were on the top fly!  Lighter body color stone flies also did pretty well, and Copper Johns delivered a few fish, too.

In the afternoon on sunny days, the bite seemed to shut down on water that hasn’t been recently stocked. However, shifting to stripped woolly buggers and matukas worked well until evening.  Light colors were best until the sun went low enough to throw shadows across the water. Then we switched to darker patterns like thin mint and fire tiger. Thin Mint #6 and #8 remains a top producer.”

Don’t forget to fish that shallow riffle before you step in it. With the warmer water there are fish holding right there.  Note that rainbows will hold in much faster water than many people think.  I make a point to check every riffle before I put my foot in the water.  Often they’re smaller fish, like a runt that ate my size 6 white woolly bugger, but there are good ones to be had as well.

Enjoy the colors out there, too. The woods are starting to pop during my second favorite time of the year. “


UO regular RonW: “Kurt and I fished the dam last Saturday the 4th. We had boots in the water at 10am and fished till 2pm. It was a slow day with only 7 fished landed between the two of us, with just as many LDRs. I hooked up two fish early on the streamer,  both of which came unbuttoned. I switched to a dry/dropper, which ended up being the ticket for me. All three of my fish came on the dropper: 2 on a midge and 1 on a #18 BH pheasant tail.  

The most interesting part was battling the 6 mph winds, which were more like 15 mph winds blowing in three directions at all times. It's always interesting when your dry fly is drifting upstream.  All in all, it was another fantastic day on the water with a great friend.”

Private Waters:

UO Helen manager Wes: “Private waters fished well this week. With the clear flows a big key was changing up flies until you found what they wanted. Small mayfly patterns, eggs, and streamers were the top players.”

UO guide Ben had a great weekend on the Soque with his two Charleston guests. A chartreuse egg and some midge patterns worked on a dead drift, while streamer-stripping was also productive.

Ben’s Nacoochee Bend guests had a big time on Tuesday with resident bows. Young Noah displayed his skills and his smiles. Drifted eggs and jigged jig-streamer patterns put most of the fish in the net.

UO guide Caleb: “My clients had a rainy day at the Bend last Thursday. Several rainbows were brought to the bag using a double nymph rig. Small stoneflies and peach eggs were our top patterns.”

UO guide Israel:  “Warmer water has our private waters fish feeding well and they were less selective during our recent warm spell.  There was really no secret sauce. They ate everything I tied on, from a size 16 hares ear to a size 10 Pats rubberlegs. Pick a bug and drift it right, and you should find success. We’re starting to to see a fair amount of risers, which bodes well for the weeks ahead,”


UO regular RSquared: “ Sunday afternoon, two of my former student's & I went for a short fishing trip on the Etowah River. The bite was slower than normal but we all managed to boat some fish. The Alabama Bass were on the small side but had beautiful markings! Paying it forward  to the next generation of fish & wildlife stewards! Spring is not far away!”

UO regular Landon spin-fished a mid-GA river for a buffet of warmwater species including Bartram bass, crappie, and redbreast sunfish. You can watch his videos here:



UO buddy Athens MD: “The crappie are fired up  around Athens! My son and I had a great day on a local lake this past weekend, catching well into the double digits with some fat bluegill and shellcracker thrown into the mix. 10" crappie are a ton of fun on a 3wt! Black jig-style flies and brown rubber-legged dragons fished hopper-dropper style worked well. I started throwing small gray composite loop zonkers near the end of the day and had great luck pulling big crappie from very shallow water. The crappie bite should continue well into March.”


On his free time, UO guide Como has been restocking his freezer with crappie fillets. He’s dunking minnows under prime Lanier boat docks for some nice slabs and a bonus largemouth or two.

The WRD shocking boats are busy at this time of year. Their Friday afternoon intel, especially for reservoir species, is a must-read.


HenryC:”Stripers are still eating some BUT the big news this week is that the spotted bass awoke for fly anglers. They're shallow and hungry! Coyotes, Clousers, somethin else flies and mini game changers will all work.”


There’s your spring buffet table, which sure features a great selection this week. Watch the weather and streamflows and pick your favorite species and fishing method.  If Sunday/Monday streams are blown, head to a lake. Just remember your rain jacket and a pocketful of tissues.  Good luck. Stop in either UO store for some prime springtime flies and supplies. We sure appreciate your friendship and your business.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


PS: Last call on your chance at a Yellowstone flyfishing vacation for only ten bucks:


No comments:

Post a Comment