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 7, 2023

UO Fishing Report 4/7/23


Happy holidays, everyone! Given our soggy weather report, you’ll have plenty of time to celebrate them with family and friends - indoors. The forecast suggests we’ll get 1-2 inches of rain up here, so all but the smallest streams will likely be blown out for the weekend.



The good news about the weather is that we need these rains to recharge our streams, and next week’s daily forecasts are awesome. Flex your schedules if you can and take advantage of those sunny April days for some awesome spring fishing.

Headwaters will drain quickly and again fish well on dry/dropper rigs. Wait out the floods on big waters, then catch the flows when dropping and still stained and toss streamers and big stoneflies. Once they clear, resume your dry/dropper prospecting. Gray is still around, but tan is due any day.

Ponds are always fantastic in April and they’re rainproof. Keep them in mind while your rivers are blown out.

Reservoir bass are heading shallow to spawn, while stripers will head upriver for their romantic runs. Stripers like the low light of rainy days, so keep that option in mind if it’s just rain and not thunderstorms.

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


For example, our guides are tuned in daily, so “borrow” their intel for your own trips. Don’t miss this month’s great fishing, so work around the weather if you can and enjoy hot April angling.

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), Stimulator (#12-16).

Nymphs & Wets:

Mop fly, sexy Walt’s, Duracell, soft hackle partridge, flexi girdle bug, ice pupa, hot head pheasant tail.

Streamers & warm water:

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


Headwaters were a bit low and clear, with highs in the high fifties, before today’s storm front. They should continue to fish really well. Try dry/dropper rigs when they’re high and then your favorite dry once their flows subside.

UO regular Landon:  “ We hit one of my favorite headwaters this week. The natives were a little off today and kept refusing our flies, even when we downsized.  We still caught enough to keep it interesting. It was another great spring day in the mountains.”

UO regular RSquared:  “Last Friday, Nathan, Max, & I did some bluelining on one of the tributaries of a very well known wild trout stream in the North Ga. Mountains. We had an awesome day catching trout on dries and droppers. Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Adams, Thunderheads, & Purple Adams were hot dries, while Sheep Flies, Pheasant Tails, & small midges produced fish on the droppers.”

Delayed Harvest:

I did some recons this week and found that our local DH streams were a tad low and clear before the storms.

Trout were often suspended mid-column as they intercepted nymphs and emergers in the flow and an occasional adult floating above them.  Our reporters say that dry/dropper action has been good, especially on soft hackle droppers. Tiny black caddis buzzed the Chattooga’s streamside bushes.

Those same caddis were also common on Nan DH, which had higher flow and even hit 60 degrees in late afternoon.  


You can see their pebble cases on streamside rocks, with (Glossosoma?) pupae percolating in them. 

Sporadic risers sipped emergers (maybe the caddis) thru the afternoon.  There were a few larger gray caddis and a stray Hendrickson, too. When stormflows pass, try tossing a double dry combo of a #16 para-Adams and #18-20  gray caddis into the soft pockets along both stream edges. 

I’ll repeat last week’s advice.  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 (I saw my first cahills at Nacoochee Bend last nite) so have some cahill emergers and duns and Caddis pupae and adults ready as the spring 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 MikeB: “By the way, I did make it up to Chattooga DH. A few others had the same idea; a bit surprising for a Tuesday but I had good day anyway.  Really nice area, good flow, cooperative fish, mix of rainbows and brooks.  No particular fly seemed to be the trick - some on each of pats rubber leg, pheasant tail, hairs ear, squirmy worm.”

Our Rabunite buddy, Nan, checked in:  “Fishing was fairly slow at Fires Creek DH but we caught at least one of each of the Bs (browns, brookies and bows), all on dries. My husband and I had fun!”

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.


UO buddy RSquared:”. Cathy & Mark of the Georgia Council of Trout Unlimited & I fished a northwest GA WMA creek that’s heavily stocked.  Most of this water is very shallow and is perfect for dry-droppers. Cathy took us to school on her home waters, catching trout in the double digits while I struggled to get just a few. Most fish came on droppers that had either blue or purple hot-spots.”


No recent reports. Our regular, Ryan, was too busy tangling with big channel cats.


Private Waters:

UO guide Israel:”My client had a great day at  Soque Camp. Fish were still hesitant to rise to our dries, but were eager to inhale a variety of small nymph patterns drifted past their noses.”

UO guide Caleb: “We had a very productive day at The Bend yesterday (6th).  The fish were quite happy and the most effective strategy was drifting a small pheasant tail underneath a larger attractor pattern.”

UO guide Ben was busy this week. His father/daughter client duo had a great day at Rainbow Point on the Soque.  They fished dry/dropper rigs. The chubby Chernobyl dry was simply a strike indicator for the more effective droppers: tan and march brown soft hackles dead-drifted and then swung.

Ben’s next set of clients also had a productive day at the Soque Camp property.  Stripped streamers and dead-drifted and swung pheasant tails and olive zebra midges were most effective.  A massive brown was fought and lost, and a rematch was vowed. 


Watch for stripers when rivers drop and clear just a bit. Hit the pools below shoals and in the shady outside riverbends at dawn.

Watch for WRD’s Friday update here: https://georgiawildlife.blog/category/fishing/


Athens Jay: “With stormy weather on the way, and the arrival of the April full moon, I got on my paddleboard for the first time this year. Surprisingly, I didn’t fall off, and managed to test out my bamboo rod on some noble savages. When the wild azaleas are blooming in the Piedmont, it’s time to grab a few brown beadhead Pat’s Rubberlegs and go bream fishing. The shellcracker were more abundant than the bluegill, but both were extremely tight to the bank seeking a warm place to bed. The smell of the azaleas, the full moon rising, and the deep bend those ferocious fish put in my bamboo rod combined for an incredibly evening.

My office buddy, Marty, has enjoyed spring break with some family pond fishing. He shared a photo of his clan in action.”


HenryC just called in this report from the lake. He said the bass were up shallow (3-4 ft) a couple days ago, but have since backed off to 10-12 feet of water. They’ve been more cooperative when the sun is shining.  Stripers have been AWOL on the lake right now. Their river runs are a higher percentage bet at the moment. 

UO staffer Joseph:

“We traveled down to West Point and caught lots of spotted bass, along with a good mix of stripers and white bass. We focused a lot on the shad spawn and schooling fish. The water is still really dirty but the fish were super shallow and readily eating. We caught many fish on smaller kitech swim baits and I even managed a few on a small crease fly. Overall fishing is super good and will only get better as the week goes on.”

Important rerun from last week:  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.

There’s your pre-monsoon intel. Work around the rain and cash in some vacation days when the sun shines and the water clears. May all of you have a happy Easter and Passover with your families. We sure appreciate your friendship - and your fish stories!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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