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.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

UO Fishing Report 6/29/23

We cooked up this edition early to help y’all plan your holiday weekend getaways. Enjoy this week’s fishing report entitled “heat, humidity, and haze.”  The bottom line is to fish early, when the water and air are most accommodating for fish and fishers. Our air temps are warming and the Canadian smoky haze has decided to revisit us.


Our mountain trout waters are skinny and warming.  The good news is that headwaters are still cool enough in the mornings to fish for little wild trout and recent stockers. Today’s stream temps and recent trip intel are in our blog.

GA’s two trout tailwaters are still cold, thanks to stored winter waters, and fishing well. Just lather up with sunscreen and hydrate with lots of water while you’re standing or yakking out there, minus the shade trees. Mo’s  intel will put you on those wild Buford browns.

Warmwater rivers are clearing and should provide some great bass and bream action until the next storms muddy them up. Be ready for shots at bonus trophies, too: the lake migrants of stripers and even some spawning gar.

Small lakes are still good. Just fish them in “full summer mode,” which means avoid the sun. Hit those ponds at dawn, dusk, and along shaded shorelines for your best action.

Reservoirs are actually improving!  Henry C and Landon have some optimistic reports in our blog. Go early for the best bites and fewest skiers and wake boarders.

Enjoy Independence Day and all the freedom we have to live, work, and fish in, despite its flaws, the greatest country on this planet. Stop in either UO shop if we can help you celebrate with some sizzling hot flies and bright, sparkly intel for your holiday escapes.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Stimulator, parachute ant, micro chubby, humpy, elk hair caddis, parachute Adams

Nymphs & Wets:

improved yallarhammer, green weenie, drowned ant, tungsten redneck.

Streamers & warm water:

Amnesia bug popper (for bream), double barrel bass bug, clouser minnow, finesse changer, micro bugger.


They’re still cool enough for some good morning trips. My afternoon recon today showed Smith DH at 68 degrees, above the lake at 66, Spoilcane at 68, and a high Hooch trib at 66 as late as 3pm.

UO Helen manager Wes: “The bluelines have fished well this week. My client caught a bunch of little wild rainbows and had a blast. We are still seeing some golden stones flying around so a yellow stimulator or parachute ant is a good choice for a dry right now. In the deeper runs I have been able to pick up a few extra fish on a pheasant tail dropped a foot and a half off the back of a dry.”

UO friend MB: “ I went to Noname Creek on Monday morning and caught a bunch of little wild rainbows. It was 50/50 on my parachute Adams or the rainbow warrior dropper. Great morning!”

As he said in Tuesday’s Facebook post, Dredger went high above Helen on Monday evening and had a blast. He landed nearly twenty little wild bows and had an equal number of misses and refusals in his 4-hour tour. All but the last one ate his #16 tan caddis, as long as it was redosed in High N Dry dessicant and floated high.  After the rhodo ate both his caddis, he switched to a small orange stimmy and landed the big fish of the day, a 10-incher that pulled his rod tip down. He made that his last-cast fish and walked out with a smile. 

He did notice that fish were in summer drought mode. They had abandoned many of his traditionally good pockets and runs because they were too shallow. In trout streams, “wood is good.” Aim for woody cover and pools/pockets with some depth. Fish are piled in there. Stealth and a good drift beat fly pattern. 

The high elevation Smokies creeks are always a good July holiday road trip.  Toss terrestrials if that caddis, Adams, or stimmy isn’t seeing much action. And aim for the shade!!!  Byron said flows are better and temps are down.  See his daily park prospects and hot patterns here:


Stocker Streams:

New UO friends Cooper and Mason: “ We took on Smith DH today (29th).  We caught around 5-8 Brown and Brook stocked trout.  We caught a few on the caddis dry, but the majority came on the dropper: a pheasant tail, green weenie and yellow egg. It was all about getting the nymph to the proper depth and keeping it on a good drift. This was Mason’s first flyfishing trip and he had a blast.”

GAWRD always blows it out for this holiday. Watch for a real long stocking list tomorrow. If the stream is cold enough, it will get a good helping of stockers.  Stocking rates will go way down on a lot of streams after tomorrow, by design. You can view WRD’s 2023 master stocking list on its trout fishing page:



UO buddy Mo: “Kurt and I fished the dam 3rd Sat in a row. We both agreed that a record was set today. It doesn’t happen often enough if you ask me. 

The parking was  full at 7:30am and we found a full house when we waded in. Summer fishing is here and the crowds are out in full force. We carefully picked our way thru, making sure not to encroach on anyone, and found a few spots that looked promising. 

We both fished the dry dropper again and slowly started picking up fish on both. Again, tiny midge imitations in olive worked sub-surface (not much more than a #20 hook with a silver bead and short olive body) and a #16 dyret dry with claret body and grizzly hackle up top. 

Def a slow morning and more action sub-surface. Things picked up around lunch with risers becoming more active, but the wind kept putting them down. We picked up more fish on the dropper to start with but it evened out by early pm, when almost all our fish were eating the dry. 

Again, nothing of any size but I’ll take the scrappy browns on the dry any day of the week. I hope you’re doing well and getting after them. Have a good weekend!”

Private Waters: 

UO manager Jake took his client to our private teach to the north, where he had a blast on this morning’s trip. Jake said the water was in the low 60’s and the fish were highly cooperative. His client landed about 20 bows up to 22 inches.  Half came up to eat the dry (tan chubby) and the other half ate the dropper (Duracell, Hot Ribbed Walts Worm, and a Red Tag).  Call the shop at 706-878-3083 if you want to book a morning trip while that water’s still cool. 

UO guide Caleb: “A friend and I targeted stripers at The Bend.  The low, clear water produced some tough striper angling so we quickly switched to gar fishing. Angling for spotted gar proved to be effective using small baitfish patterns. And we caught one striper right at dark, too!”

Warmwater Streams:

The Hooch was running fairly clear today when I drove across the Hwy 115 bridge. It should fish pretty well for spots, shoalies, and redbreast sunfish at low light and in the shade. A bonus striper or gar might show up, too. Watch those river gauges and ensure a summer storm doesn’t blow them out before you float them. We watch the Hooch at Leaf USGS gauge.  Toss those surface bugs right up against the bank, underneath the overhanging limbs.

Small Lakes:

UO buddy Athens MD: “It's starting to get hot, but bass and sunfish in lakes around Athens are still willing to cooperate, especially during the golden hour near sunset. Had a lot of fun earlier in the week slowly retrieving size 2 and 4 Barr's meat whistles in red/black and purple/black on sink tip lines near vegetation. The meat whistle is definitely one of my favorite jig-style flies, and it will occasionally get you into trouble with a big ol catfish.”

UO friend RSquared: “Farm ponds are fishing great for bass & bream in the early morning and the last couple of hours before dark in the evening.  I have had success with popper-dropper rigs. I am using a Bully's Bluegill Spider  as the top fly and a Sinking Cricket as my dropper. Our streams on the west side of the state still hold plenty of trout but the water is really getting warm by late afternoon. The native Coosa Redeyes are very active, however!”


HenryC: “Lanier seems to have finally turned the corner regarding topwater fishing. Fish are chasing mostly herring and some shad on the surface. Fly rodders should toss poppers or finesse game changers on floating lines or better yet, toss a pole dancer fly which “walks the dog” like a Zara Spook.  Spin anglers have a distinct advantage as they can make long casts to the surfacing fish more quickly. Toss a walk the dog lure into a surfacing fish and it's nearly an automatic eat. Spotted bass and stripers are both feeding on top. Look for singles, doubles, and triples. No big schools but lots of fun getting fish to eat off the surface. Sea walls, humps with brush and points with brush are the ticket to finding fish. 

Carp fishing is good "when" the COE generates. It's been a goofy schedule lately but the carp due to cool weather are still finishing up their spawning as we write this report. Stay safe this busy weekend!”


UO buddy Landon: “I took a buddy to Lanier for species  #2 on the GA bass slam. We found some spots by dragging worms slowly near rocky structure, with deep water close by.

Another buddy and I went on Lanier Sunday morning and caught some spots on flukes as they were schooling on herring.  We also fished a tournament on Allatoona Tuesday night, but did t even weigh in a 3-fish limit; it was so slow.

My buddy Pat went up to Lake Chickamauga in TN and had a banner day today! He fished deep ledges with  deep- diving  square bills and submerged grass mats with wacky-rigged senkos.”


UO guide Palmer’s been playing hooky somewhere west of the Mississippi: “From Colorado last week. Runoff was still going strong. Found refuge in alpine lakes. Dredged the bottom with worms and stoneflies. Enjoy the pics.”

UO’s stray pup, Joseph, is terrorizing Alaska resident species when he isn’t guiding clients. Enjoy his pics.

We hope you enjoy this expedited version of our weekly fishing report. Yep, it’s sweltering out there if you’re in the middle of a soccer field or Wal Mart parking lot. But, by golly, it’s pretty darn comfortable standing shin-deep in a high headwater stream, wet-wading under the tall oaks and pines, and through those rhododendron tunnels. Here’s to the shade!

Good luck and have fun celebrating  America’s birthday. Maybe you’ll find a few finned birthday presents on the end of our line. Stop in or call either UO shop if we can make your birthday party even better. 

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


Friday, June 23, 2023

UO Fishing Report 6/23/23

Last week’s rains really “recharged” several regional fisheries and we hope y’all took advantage of them. The same weather pattern is forecasted for next week, so you have more chances to take advantage of storm surges, from headwater trout to river stripers and the few private trout waters that are still cool enough to fish. 

Pond and lake bream and bass are still going strong and remain a best bet. River bass are totally dependent on water clarity, so keep a keen eye on those USGS river gauges and avoid those muddy storm

surges for bass. 
But run toward them for our Helen stripers!  Book a striper trip this summer and time it for a YooHoo event.

Here’s our latest intel - far and wide. It’s as far as the Rockies and as wide as Texas, so don’t miss the good stuff detailed in our blog. Good luck this week. Remember your raincoats!

Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries:  Stimulator, parachute ant, micro chubby, humpy, elk hair caddis.

Nymphs & Wets:

Micro girdle bug, squirmy worm, drowned ant, gold ribbed hares ear, improved yallarhammer. 

Streamers & warm water:

Amnesia bug popper (for bream), double barrel bass bug,

Hybrid changer, finesse changer, sparkle minnow.


Blueline creeks have really enjoyed their recharges. Toss fluffy dries if clear and dry/ beaded droppers if the water’s stained.  If there’s good color, you can go with a shorter, thicker leader (6 ft, 4X) to your dry to make the dropper combo easier to cast in tight quarters.

UO staffer Ben hiked high up the mountain in search of Georgia natives. And he found some gooduns! He said the hot fly was a small jigged streamer. Are y’all ready for summer bluelining? Hopefully this week’s daily posts have helped you.

The high elevation Smokies creeks are still rocking along.  See Byron’s daily park prospects here:


Stocker Streams:

It’s the home stretch for many streams on the weekly stocking list. Stocking frequencies are reduced by WRD after July 4th due to warmer waters, fewer anglers, and the hatchery space needed to grow 5-inch fingerling trout that will be next year’s crop of stockers.

Take your pick of techniques, from Powerbait to spinners to flies, and go have some fun. Turn a kid on to mountain trouting and you’ll have a fishing buddy for life.  See the weekly trout stocking list, updated each Friday afternoon, here:



UO buddy Mo: “Same drill as last week. Kurt and I fished the dam again this Sat and we enjoyed pretty much the same conditions and dry fly action as last week. We def picked up more fish on the dropper this time.  Tiny midge imitations in olive dropped off the dry about 2ft worked very well. 

Throughout the day they were on and off sporadically with periods where fish were actively feeding on top, but we had constant action on the dry dropper combo. We saw more scrappy browns in the net too. The dry in 16 again was the fly du jour on top. Both of us fished one in diff colors and they both produced equally well. 

Had a blue heron stalk me for a while from pretty close. He wasn’t having any luck fishing that I saw. Stood still for a quick pic before spooking and flying off.  It was a nice way to top off another great day on the Tailwater.”

UO guide Devin and his girlfriend had a good time on the Toccoa Tailwater, thanks to spot-on intel provided by his friends at the local fly shop, Cohutta Fishing Co. The combo of a small tan hopper and holy grail dropper did the trick when tossed in the eddies underneath shady limbs.

Private Waters: 

UO manager Jake: Team Jake-Squared hit the Hooch behind the shop last night (22nd)  in the rain-stained water and hooked 5 stripers, landing 4. The biggest fish of the evening was estimated to be around 15 lbs. We had a great time fishing that storm surge.”

UO guide Caleb: “A friend and I took advantage of the stained water on Monday evening.  We had a couple of chases and were able to bring one striper to the net on a big, black game changer.”

UO friend Sylvia: “Unicoi Outfitters hosted "Reeling in Serenity" on Saturday for their Summer Striper retreat. Reeling in Serenity is a  nonprofit organization that provides free fly retreats for men and women in active recovery from substance abuse. They are always looking for volunteers to help. If you'd like to volunteer or know someone who would benefit from these retreats, go to reelinginserenity.org or email them at info@reelinginserenity.org. Help share the healing power of fly fishing!”

UO’s Helen manager Wes: “I did a half-day private water trip with David Monday morning in the rain. The stream was dirty but remained just clear enough to still be productive. Black girdle bugs, and squirmy worms got it done in the off color water. He had a big time with some plump, feisty rainbows.”

UO buddy CDB was desperate: “Given all the rain, it has been difficult to find clear water to fish.  After considerable prospecting, I was able to locate this crystal clear pool.  After a stealthy approach, I picked up a fabled blue trout which I, of course, quickly released unharmed. 

Apart from that one, the fishing has been slow, and unfortunately the landowner keeps asking me to leave. There’s always next week ….”

Warmwater Streams:

Dredger noticed that rivers north of the border were running real low, so he took a road trip last weekend for some evening action ahead of a rainy week. And was glad he did. He started with a black/yellow slider but only had one look. He then switched to his ole reliable, a white Kent’s stealth bomber, and that got some attention. He ended up with a decent handful of smallies for two hours of casting, including a 16-inch acrobat that skied six times and made his evening.

Small Lakes:

Athens Jay: “I got my paddleboard out for a brief evening trip this past weekend. There were only a few spawning bluegill visible, but others were still hanging out in relatively shallow water. I started with a black/yellow Stealth Bomber with a brown Pat’s Rubberlegs dropper and got some explosive strikes on the Bomber and several takers on the Pat’s. I switched to a medium-sized black articulated streamer that I tied with contrasting light marabou on each shank and the results exceeded all expectations. Lots of fish were brought to hand in the magical final hour before dark.”


HenryC: “Little has changed on Lanier this past week. Water temps are still in the mid 70's and the fishing is okay. Bass and stripers are eating topwater but it's not the "epic" bite we are looking for. Humps, points and seawalls are all producing some fish. I did see some schooling striper activity near the humps in 20-30' of water. They are up and down quickly which makes flyrodders jobs a little tougher. Best bet is a spinning rod with a walk the dog bait. Pictured is a fish taken this morning (23rd) on said outfit.”


UO buddy Landon: “No photos, but I took my noob buddy to Lanier. We fished from the bank Sunday evening and caught spots on a Zara spook by casting along long rocky points. I fished the same areas with a shaky head and caught several as well.”


UO staffer Atticus is on an extended western walkabout and sent in this report: “West of the Mississippi is on fire with large foam terrestrials!”

UO owner Jimmy: “Last weekend I had the good fortune to be visiting the Hill Country of Texas and the intelligence to have a fly rod with me.  I've fished several West Texas streams over the years but, to my knowledge, I've never been on one with a population of Guadalupe Bass.  The Medina River was going to change this.  

My first day resulted in a mixed bag of beautiful sunfishes (known as Perch to all Texans) Guadalupe bass, and largemouth bass.  To be honest, I spent most of this day sidetracked by the healthy population of carp in the river.  Aside from one take, which I immediately fumbled, I couldn't figure bugle-mouths.  On my second day, I made a mental note to  IGNORE THE CARP!  

This trip was where I introduced the Medina bass to Kent Edmond's Stealth Bomber.  It was as if they had been waiting all their lives for this fly.  I don't count fish but it was pretty consistent action all morning; everything on topwater.  

Not only will I have a flyrod with me the next time we're headed to a family reunion, I may even make a special trip just to spend more time on that river.”

From the north GA mountains down to Lanier, then west to the Rockies and south to Texas, there’s your latest intel. We hope it helps you to have greater success this week. Good luck, and share your own pics and tales with us. Stop in either UO shop if we can aid your piscatorial pursuits.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.