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 31, 2023

UO Fishing Report 3/31/23

Welcome to April! All jokes aside, invert your plans for tomorrow. Make your usual Plan B your Saturday Plan A: hit the tributaries and ponds after this storm front passes. If we get less than the expected half- to one-inch of rain, you might see a pleasant surprise in fishable rivers, but I would not count on it.

Also be ready for wind!  You might avoid it by getting down into a gorge where the stream runs perpendicular to the wind. Better yet, wait til Sunday or the sunnier days next week.

Stripers are big but scattered. They should soon pack up on river spawning runs, so watch those reservoir headwaters as they drop and clear. Bass are turning on. Once again, Henry has some great intel.

We have more pics and timely tips in our full report, here:


Good luck. Stop in either UO store for more great advice and the supplies you’ll need to welcome April with some wins. Just like our Braves, hopefully!

Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

(Notice the increase in dries!)

Dries: elk hair caddis (#16 tan, #18 black or gray) parachute BWO, March Brown, dark Hendrickson, quill Gordon, parachute Adams (#14-18), Stimulator (#12-16).

Nymphs & Wets:

Jiggy pats rubber leg, trip saver, rainbow warrior, soft hackle partridge, Ice pupa, chartreuse egg, twisted mayfly.

Streamers & warm water:

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


Our headwaters are running a bit low, clear, and cool (mid-50’s). 

They should drop and fish well soon after the storm. Smokies Park streams show average flows for this time of year and some cool temps due to the last few chilly nights.  The Luftee near the park boundary was 54F at 4PM yesterday, with no risers and only a few stray, tiny caddis adults spotted. 

By the way, the new park pass system was easy. Just be ready with your vehicle license number to enter on the keypad and a credit card to swipe. And drive slow in the park! The elk came out to feed around 5PM yesterday and several enjoyed the green grass in the highway median and along the shoulders. 

These higher elevation streams should take off with next week’s warm weather. You’ll just have to work around some rain and storm flows. Watch Byron’s daily park fishing report here:


Delayed Harvest:

Most DH streams are in good shape today, ahead of tomorrow’s storm. Smith was 56F at 3PM Wednesday, and today’s DNR stocking list says it was redosed on the 27th.


Chattooga DH is running a little low, so the rain will help its flow. Nan DH had normal flow and ran a cool 52F at 3PM yesterday. Few bugs or rises were observed, probably due to the prior cold nights.

Try dredging or streamer stripping in the mornings and when the water is muddy. On warm afternoons, switch to dry/dropper rigs and keep your eyes open for risers. Also stock up on tan bugs for this month. Soon tan caddis and light Cahills will start popping, so have some cahill emergers and duns and Caddis pupae and adults ready when the monthly hatch color switches from gray to tan. For more hatch info, go to RabunTU.org and click on Tightlines. Monthly hatch charts are in each newsletter.


UO buddy CDB: “Sometimes patience is a virtue I fished DH water early in the week, and from 8:30 until 1:30 only had one fish. Everyone I spoke to on the stream had similar luck.  About 1:30 some clouds rolled in, and wow, something turned on! From 1:30 to 3:30 we caught over 20 fish. Black rubber legs size 8 was the most productive offering. Three out of every four fish were caught on the top fly, by the way. Remember, the fish are very active right now and are looking up. If you’re dragging your bottom fly against the stream bed, you’re underneath the fish. This little fella was displeased with the whole event!

Private water fished similarly. The action was slow but steady and good drifts were rewarded with good fish.  Once again, the most productive offering was a dark rubberlegs in size 8 or 10. An occasional fish was also picked up on either a green or a white mop. “


UO buddy RonW is working too much, but relayed this: “I don't fish but my friend does.  Kurt fished the Dam yesterday afternoon 3/29 and absolutely put a smackdown on them. Everytime he caught a fish, I'd get a ding on my phone, and it was dinging all afternoon.   After a dozen plus "dings",  he was just rubbing it in. I'm guessing he caught north of a few dozen, mostly rainbows with some nice wild browns mixed in.  Hot fly was some sort of BHPT variation he ties.   I'm glad he got out and got on them after a tough few weeks working and traveling.  Now it's my turn for some hydrotherapy!”

Private Waters:

UO guide Caleb: “I had another great trip at Soque Camp last week. The cold morning had the trout thrown off a bit but the warmer afternoon really ramped up the action. We brought in some large rainbows and one big brown. The most effective strategy was a double nymph rig using stonefly nymphs and an egg pattern. Sorry, no pics this week, as all the pics were on my clients’ phones. I was too busy rigging rods and netting fish!”

UO guide Devin said his client had a real good Sunday at Nacoochee Bend throwing streamers to energetic rainbows.


The white bass run is on and stripers should be right behind them. Check out today’s WRD blog for white bass intel. Have a six-weight rig and a handful of white or chartreuse Clousers at hand and you’ll have a lot of fun whenever our rivers (Hooch, Chestatee, Etowah, Little, Coosa) aren’t blown out.



Athens Jay: “Went old school with a simple Clouser minnow and got lots of action on a local pond, including this lovely warmouth and several hungry bass. Lesson: you don’t need fancy new flies, the classics still catch fish! “


We offer two tips for you striper fans. First, aim for the reservoir headwaters and, if not too muddy, the rivers during the next two weeks.  Stripers head upstream during the first 2-3 weeks of April every year as they try to spawn.

Second, hit the lake “mudlines.”They’re the tea-colored transition zones between chocolate milk and clear lake water.  Shad will pack into muddy water, which catches sunlight and warms up. Stripers will be in slightly clearer water just outside the mud, where they are hidden by the stain and can ambush shad. In a prior life, my cohorts and I had great “shocking” success in those mudlines.

HenryC:  “Striper fishing is still tough BUT quality fish abound if you find the right places to cast. Loons and gulls can still help you find fish. Spotted bass are starting to cooperate since the weather is warming up some again. Last weekend’s rain blew out the backs of the creeks as well as some of the rivers, but that should all settle back in the next couple of days. The striper tourney by Alpharetta Outfitters to benefit PHWFF was a success with regard to size. Even 4th and 5th place landed fish nearing 30" in length! Lanier is clearly back to showing it is a trophy-like fishery for stripers on the fly, as shown here by Dr Edward Pham and his fat silver zebra that was caught and released earlier this week. The numbers are still not up to par but the size surely makes up for it.”



UO buddy RSquared: “Barracuda saved our fishing vacation week down in the Keys. Cold front & winds blowing at 25-35 knots sent most fish off the flats & to the warmer waters of the reef, where the seas were too rough for my 18ft center console.”

Just like we did last week, let’s check tomorrow morning’s storm effects first and then head toward fishable waters. That will be small streams and ponds early in the day, and the bigger waters tomorrow afternoon and on Sunday. A week of warm weather will really get things going, too, so take a day off to fish next week. Stop by either UO store for some friendly advice and the hot bugs of the day. Stock up on “tan” for April’s evening hatches.

And maybe even book a trip with one of our awesome guides. You might really enjoy this sport!

(Pic courtesy of Ryan Forbus)


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