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, April 14, 2023

UO Fishing Report 4/14/23

It’s that time of the year when fish are “looking up!” Take advantage of the surface and shallow water action, from trout on top to bassin’ the shallows. The next six weeks are what most Georgia fly flingers wait all year for, so don’t miss the action.

We’re expecting some rain this afternoon, but hopefully it won’t amount to very much.  You can always check a river gauge or call our shop to confirm local stream conditions and avoid any muddy slugs.  The weather for Saturday and most of Sunday looks good, so load your vehicle tonite and hit the water this weekend.  

Trout streams have started to host bug buffets, so dry fly action is good and will only get better. Ponds are still prime, while rivers still have spawning run stripers and resident shoalies awakening from their winter hibernation.  Reservoirs have spawning bass nosing into the shallows, while wolf packs of stripers may pass by lucky boaters.

Again, our full report at blog.angler.management has all the details.

 It’s April, so go fishing now.  Cut the grass one day after work next week.  Go early for stripers and late for trout. Don’t forget your flashlight and fresh batteries.  Good luck!

Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries: brown and gray elk hair caddis, stimulator, #18 yellow sally, Adams irresistible and small parachutes, parachute light cahill (#16-18).

Nymphs & Wets:

Jiggy pats rubberleg, hares ear nymph, hot-head pheasant tail, soft hackle partridge, twisted mayfly, Duracell, Le bug, 

Streamers & warm water:

Complex twist bugger, Sparkle minnow, polar changer, finesse changer, jig micro bugger.


They’re in great shape up here around Helen, pushing 60 degrees, and fishing well. Bugs are hatching; just expect sparse hatches when compared to larger streams because of less groceries for munching bugs. I watched a few cahills dance at Spoilcane on Tuesday night.  

Today’s expected rain shouldn’t bump flows very much. Small caddis and cahill dries should bring lotsa looks and prevent the need for a sunken dropper, unless you wish to prospect a deep pool.

The Smokies are also experiencing a bug buffet, according to our friend Ian at R and R  Flyfishing https://instagram.com/randrflyfishing?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

in Townsend.   Dry/droppers are good rigs on bigger streams, while lone dries should be fine on small creeks. It’s hard to beat some form of hares ear nymph for the dropper right now, given the popping march browns and  cahills.  Watch Byron’s daily park intel here, too:


Delayed Harvest:

Smith DH fished tough for the rookies I talked to this week, but the vets did well.  One dude with a good game did well on Tuesday with a peeking caddis point fly and hares ear dropper on his Euro rig. My thermometer said 57F around 3PM.

Just go light line and small bugs during the high sun, and small dries or midges on 5 or 6X as the shadows fall across Smith. Stay til dark if you can.

Rabunite buddy @troutbumtrey said:  “Our duo had a really nice weekday evening on the Chattooga DH.  We started around 6:30 with a large march brown hatch, which tapered of by 7:45. We started with some #16 March browns and, as the sun set, I switched over to #14 all seasons caddis in dark brown. We quit at 8:15.  It was a great sundown of fishing on our Rabunite home river.”

I did a recon mission to Nan DH on Wednesday and watched the ATL ShopVac brothers clean out the stream with their Euro rigs. Both Ryan and Myles are GATU Trout Camp grads and, now with another decade of experience , are deadly anglers. Don’t fish behind them. Their winning combo for nearly 80 fish was a heavy rubberlegs as the point fly and a tungsten beaded hares ear dropper. 

Ryan said: “We hit our nearest NC DH stream yesterday for some awesome nymphing action.  The day started off around 50 degrees and chilly but quickly warmed up every hour until it was in the 70's.  It was clear that multiple bugs were hatching throughout the day and with such variety the fish were happily feeding.  While not a ton of surface eating action was witnessed, the fish were happily munching on subsurface hares ear & pheasant tail jig variations drifted euro style on 5x. I finished with 32 and little brother beat me with 42 fish total!  Wild bows and browns were enjoyed along with the typical trifecta of NC stocked trout!”

Ryan’s full report is on his IG page, which is worth a follow:


They were focused on a numbers competition, while I was looking for risers.  The river was slightly high and very slightly stained, and warned up to 60 degrees.  Adult bugs were sparse all afternoon and even at dark, so risers were sparse, too. Fish were looking up, however, and a spry 77-year old angler from Waynesville said he had a good afternoon on a parachute dry with a yellow body. In declining order of abundance, the flying bugs I saw were tiny black caddis, #16 gray caddis, #20 yellow sally stones, and a smattering of #16 cahill duns.  Dry/droppers should be deadly now, and cahills will come off thicker in the weeks ahead. Don’t forget my recent cahill tips:


Our Rabunite buddy, Nan, checked in:  “We hit our favorite DH stream in western North Carolina on Wednesday. Dry flies were the ticket, especially starting in mid-afternoon. Trout were aggressively taking Light Cahills and Chubby Chernobyl patterns in light tan colors. Caught mostly browns and rainbows up to 15 inches, in all water depths from deep pools to shallow riffles.”

Stocker Streams:

The trout trucks are running and it’s a great time to introduce friends to flyfishing.  Have them drift a squirmy or strip a small black bugger in a heavily stocked stream.  They’ll be hooked for life. The WRD blog said 30K stockers hit the water this week. The new list should pop up by 4PM:


Got a tent, some bacon grease, and a frying pan? Where to pitch it? Research here:


Private Waters:

Our private stretches on the Hooch and Soque have continued to fish well for our clients, both guided and unguided (Nacoochee Bend). They matched technique to water conditions: dirty water = streamers; high sun = nymph and soft hackle dredging the depths; low light and hatching bugs = dry/droppers with Wes’ suggested patterns.

UO guide Israel said his clients had a great day stripping streamers through the riffles of a slightly stained Soque this week.


Stripers are up there and shoalies are waking up, too. UO buddy Landon: “Some stripers were around, but flyfishing for them was slow.  I had my plan B ready and tossed a white in-line spinner on my spinning rod. Buzzing it fast through the riffles got me some nice bass from the Lanier tributary.”


Athens Jay: “Bank fishing is good in ponds and lakes since bass are active in the shallows. Light colored streamers were the ticket.”


HenryC: “Lanier is fishing well "IF" you fish for what it gives you on that particular day. If you are one of those anglers who goes out and only wants to catch a striper, then you might get disappointed. The lake stripers are so hit and miss right now. BUT if you are one of those anglers that wants to simply pull on fish, then this is a great time to go fishing! Spotted and largemouth bass are fairly easy to catch and the stripers are mixed into your daily catches. If you want to catch numbers of fish then bring a 6 or 7 wt rod with an intermediate line and fish the clay banks and points. If you happen upon a 10+ lb striper then you'll be taken for a ride...  Our favorite Falcon, LB Nate Landman, landed a hefty striper on the fly this week. Enjoy the pic.

Or how about this option: the south end of Lanier is producing a lot of BIG spotted bass. Go toss a fly with 4 lb tippet and obey the IGFA rules and catch yourself a line class world record! La Orr already owns 2 of the 7 line class records and the 4 lb tippet with a 4 lb fish will land you in the record books!”


UO staffer Joseph:

“Fishing on Lanier this past week has been on fire. Lots of bait coming up shallow and lots of fish chasing it. Over the week I’ve caught lots of stripers with a good mix of spotted bass. For technique, try fishing main lake points with a sinking line off the deeper ends and an intermediate line off of the shallow end. For flies Henry’s somethin else or a clouser minnow have worked best for me. “

Last, the GAWRD weekly fishing report just popped up in my In box. It’s chock-full of timely trout, striper, hybrid, and bass intel. Electrofishing doesn’t lie. Check out the biologists’ hot intel before deciding which stream or lake to hit this weekend. Remember the agency’s brand-new Trout Slam contest, too.


It’s April, so… it’s all good! Pack your vehicle, stop in a UO store for hot flies and supplies, and hit your favorite haunts ASAP. The lawncare can wait. Good luck!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.



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