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 24, 2023

UO Fishing Report 3/24/23

As the locals say, “it’s fixin’ to break loose!”  The warmer weather has the flowers and the stream bugs blooming, and the rising water temperatures will have stream and lake fish ready to eat.  The action had picked up with the last few days of sunshine and should only get better. 

We do have some storms you’ll need to work around. Hopefully tomorrow morning’s front will blow through quickly. If it dumps a half-inch of rain or less, our streams should still be in decent shape. In fact, that small, turbid storm crest might provide the best fishing of the day, especially on smaller streams. If streams get muddy, they should clear quickly, so don’t give up on this weekend’s action. Just carry a raincoat and check stream gauges on your smart phone.

GAWRD posted a 2-page stocking list today, so grab the kids, some spincast outfits, and a jar of Powerbait and go catch some supper. If you’re a new flyrodder, twitch a small black woolly bugger in a pool full of stockers and get hooked on the sport.


Henry says lake bass are already shallow, and the stripers should soon follow. Many of them should start their river spawning migrations, also, so keep the Lanier headwaters in mind.

We have more pics and a ton of intel in our full report, here:


Folks who mine that data should do really well this week. Good luck. Stop in either UO store for more great advice and the supplies you’ll need to score big-time.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries: elk hair caddis (#16 tan, #18 black or gray) parachute BWO, March Brown, dark Hendrickson, quill Gordon, parachute Adams (#14-18).

Nymphs & Wets:

Jiggy pats, sexy Walt’s, slush egg, hares ear nymph, twisted mayfly, Duracell, Frenchie, soft hackle pheasant tail.

Streamers & warm water:

Complex twist bugger, Jiggy fat minnow, hot cone bugger, polar changer, finesse changer, small black bugger for stockers.


They are clear, warming, and running at their normal spring flows. They will get some flow bumps from the coming storms, but always drop quickly after each front. Spoilcane ran a warm 60F today at 3PM. When they’re clear, try your favorite bushy dries.  If they’re colored, drop a silver beaded Frenchie a foot off the back of the dry and hi-stick the soft pockets and bank eddies.

The Smokies are stirring, too.  Check out Ian’s latest blog:


And Byron’s daily fishing report:


Warming water will “spawn” bug hatches and bring all those eager park trout to the surface. If rains boost flows and stain the waters, try dredging some tan mops or big (#12) sexy Walts worms in the flood refuges.

Delayed Harvest:

Smith DH ran 54F at 3pm today, as the lake is still full of last week’s cold water. DH fish have been picky in the clear flows. Shrink your bugs and tippet, and also try swinging some soft hackles way downstream below you, where the fish haven’t spooked yet.

Bigger DH waters like Nan and Tooga should fish well. Remember your gray and brown March bugs 


and some streamers to strip.  Just check stream gauges first and make sure the storm peaks aren’t too high.  Enjoy this great screen shot from the Tuck.


UO buddy Ryan: “ I scored a half dozen fish on a half-day Hooch tailwater session before the water releases came in.  Natural patterns like a hares ear jig, tightlined on 5x in deeper pockets, found some feeding rainbows.”

Private Waters:

UO guide Isreal: “My client did well at Rainbow Point on the Soque yesterday. Some smaller mayflies were coming off. There was the occasional rise but not much surface activity. Our best results were from stripping a streamer under the cloud cover.”

UO guide Caleb: “A cold day at Soque camp had the fish a bit lethargic, but we were able to bring in a couple of nice rainbows on soft hackles including Carson’s first ever trout on a fly rod!”

UO guide Devin said his clients had a very good day at Rainbow Pointby dredging “tiny and shiny nymphs” of his own personal concoctions..

I ran into Andrew from Athens while doing my stream recon this afternoon. He spent the morning cashing in his Black Friday gift certificate at Nacoochee Bend, and then finished his vacation day at Smith DH. He just shared this report:

 “ Hey Dredger! This is Andrew from Smith Creek. Was great running into you earlier! Here are some pics of that rainbow that I caught this morning. It was 23-24 inches long as is my personal best bow, to date. It took a tungsten nymph that Wes recommended to me when I checked in this morning.

I had a nice afternoon At Smith DH.  The pool fish were picky in the high sun and clear water.  I ended up catching two fish on the swing, so thank you for that tip!”


UO buddy Landon:  “A sunny Tuesday afternoon had some river bass chomping.  They were tight to cover against bankside structure in slowest water I could find.”


Athens Jay: “The time is now for big bass in rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures and windy conditions last weekend did not prevent fish from eating. I used a sink tip on a 7-weight rod to swim articulated shad-colored streamers in 3-4 feet of water in late afternoon. Gradually warming temperatures this week should really kick things off.”

UO buddy Athens MD: “On Sunday I received a text from a friend that said "cold and windy today, so I guess you're not fishing?" I replied with a nice crappie selfie while being blown all over tarnation in my kayak. Jigs and streamers were on the menu in the stained water, and bluegill and redbreast decided to join in, too. I managed some river crappie as well on small streamers one evening after work.”


HenryC:  “Fishing took a slight setback due to the cold weather north GA experienced over the past week. Water temps dropped 4-5 degrees and our zebra fish (stripers) have gone deeper. The good news is this is short-lived and the fish should bounce back by the time you read this report or shortly thereafter. On another note, the LMB and spotted bass are positively committed to the spring spawn and are active and starting feed shallow. It's a great time to just get out and let the fish that are feeding dictate what your catch will consist of. Slow sinking intermediates for shallow up in the dirt fishing and fast sinking for the fish that are schooling 20-30' deep. It's all good. This weekend is the Southern Striper Open fly tournament and our own Jimmy Harris and David Dockery will be competing to bring the trophy back to Helen GA. Vegas has put their odds as 6-1 to bring home the gold. Good luck fellas! All proceeds for this tourney sponsored by Alpharetta Outfitters will go to Project Healing Waters. We are taking out the vets to fly fish Friday morning before the tournament...”


That’s the latest from our gang. It hit 77 degrees up here today, so spring is here. Take full advantage of it and cash in on the two best months of fishing in our little corner of the world.  Stop in if we can lend a hand. Andrew was sure glad he came by!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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