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, June 16, 2023

UO Fishing Report 6/16/24

Welcome to your Father’s Day weekend fishing report. Gotta love the rain!  Let the weather and water conditions lead you and your dad to success. Got a good weather app and some green weenies?  And our phone number?


Summer storms are dictating our angling destinations and techniques. GA headwaters are low, clear, and still cool between storms. Hit them with your favorite buoyant dries for a bunch of little wild trout between the storms. Sink a beaded ptail or squirmy dropper when they’re muddy. Private water trout have still fished well in the mornings, especially after storms.

Wait til large rivers clear a bit for best bass fishing, but fish that muddy water to fool summer vacationing stripers on flies. Ponds are still great, while reservoir bass are finicky and stripers are spotty at best. Better bassing will come with warmer surface temps and blueback ambushes on midlake humps.  Check out all of our current intel on the blog- you’ll catch more fish.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Tan elk hair caddis, micro chubby, parachute black ant, knobbler sally, yellow stimulator.

Nymphs & Wets:

Green weenie, drowned ant, gold ribbed hares ear, lightning bug, brown or black Pat’s rubberlegs, red squirmy in muddy water.

Streamers & warm water:

Amnesia bug popper (for bream), double barrel bass bug, polar changer, game changer popper, sweet baby cray.


Hit them when they’re low between stormflows with your favorite little, buoyant dries like chubbies and elk hair caddis. And if you can visit them during the high, discolored post-storm flows, you’ll have a banner day. Residents come out to gorge in that buffet line. If it’s high and muddy, toss your dry/beaded dropper combo into any soft pockets along the bank and behind boulders and logs. Remember the main rain “hatch” and don’t be too proud to tie on a squirmy.

New UO buddy, tarpon slayer Andres: “In an effort to find wild brookies, Caroline and I set out a little farther north than usual. While we didn’t land any brook trout, the rainbows and browns were worth the drive. The water was very low and clear and overall pretty tight conditions, but every pocket and pool we could get a cast into was productive. Netted a total of 8 fish including Caroline’s first, second, and third trout on the fly rod as well as my pb brown. All but one fish was caught dead drifting nymphs. The other, Caroline landed on a dry fly at dusk. Could not have asked for a better day!”

UO buddy RSquared:  “The water is very low in Western NC. The DH season is over there and the bigger fish are holding in deeper holes where dredged nymphs are working. NW Georgia is still producing plenty of stocked trout but the same low flows are affecting this area as well. Hoping recent rains will recharge the system. “

The higher elevations in the Smokies still fish well at this time of year.  Streams are low and clear and lower elevations are too warm, so head uphill. Just beware flash floods from bad storms high up in the watershed. Don’t ask me how I know…

See Byron’s daily park prospects here:


Stocker Streams:

Still a great bet, especially for kids with bait and new fly anglers learning the sport.  Try a tiny black bugger and a #16 soft hackle dropper, swung then stripped slowly back upstream. For kids, see our tips in 

See the weekly trout stocking list here:


Trout Pot Luck:

UO buddy CDB hit ‘em all:

“Private waters are warming up, and while the fish are active, the warmer temperatures are making them lazy!  Size 10 bead head Pat’s Rubber Legs were a very effective offering. The rubber legs also provide a little relief from needing a perfect drift, with many takes coming at the end of the drift or when mending line. As the water continues to warm up the fish are willing to move, and sometimes a good distance, for something that really catches their attention. But mostly they just want to sit there and let food come to them. So with a few inexplicable exceptions (more on that later), the fish are in a feeding pattern where they would really like the bug to just about drift right into their open mouth. With good drifts red midges and choronimid patterns worked well, as well as small pheasant tails and hare’s ear. Bead head hare’s ear with a reddish brown tail was also a very effective pattern.  Try size 18 and fish close to the bottom. 

We also took a day and fished some of the higher elevation wild trout streams. When I got into my car in the morning, the first thing I saw was a small green inchworm dangling in front of my window.  I was certain it was a sign from the fish gods. It may have been. The fish were all over the green weenies.  In fact, just about anything with green in it worked.  If you run out of green weenies, try a green caddis larva. I even goofed around with a size 16 Walt’s Worm with a green collar and it was very effective. We used a dry dropper most of the day, even in the rain. While there was no hatch coming off, Elk Hair Caddis patterns also brought a number of surface takes.  Take some time to enjoy the scenery. The rhododendrons are still blooming and there’s some gorgeous fungus growing out there!

We wrapped up the week floating some larger water including some DH water in between the thunderstorms. There are a few things more satisfying than selecting the right size and the right color and watching a trout rising up to take it confidently and try to swim off.  Right up until the point that it spits that airlock bobber back out!  Yep, indicator takes are at an all-time high. The 1/2 inch white airlock indicator was far and away the most popular, with trout rising to it and inhaling it with confidence. Sometimes running 2 or 3 feet before spitting it out!  Interestingly, this phenomenon is not confined to our trout here in Georgia. Friends of mine fishing pretty technical tailwaters and Idaho and Colorado, both reported very nice size, well-educated fish taking that white airlock. 6x fluorocarbon, so they don’t spook, of course!  You may want to run down to your local store and get all the half inch airlocks you can find before I buy them all!  

Aside from the airlock, bronze walt’s worm jig and stonefly patterns worked really well  - size 16. However brown and bronze pat’s rubber legs when fished like a streamer with slow, short, steady strips were unstoppable!  Size 10. Fish the hole or run thoroughly before moving on. If you don’t get a take, drift an airlock through there….” 


UO buddy Mo: “ Kurt and I fished the tailwater below the dam Saturday and absolutely wore them out on dries. We had beautiful conditions with barely a wisp of wind which is rare for that section of the river as it’s always windy there. Kurt had half a dozen fish in the net using a 3 wet fly rig before I had even a bite. I started out with a dry dropper rig and caught a few fish fish on each but then someone flipped the switch and all they wanted was the dry. 

By then Kurt had switched to a dry/dropper too and was picking up fish left and right. He was fishing a cdc wing coachman and I had on a size 16 dyret. It got so good just after lunch that we both cut off the droppers and continued fishing just the dries. The next 3 hours were prob the most fun we’ve had fishing the dam ever. They were so turned on that almost every other cast produced a fish. We would see a fish rise and throw a dry at it and it would come up and eat. No size to speak of, as all were snits or thereabout, but boy was it fun while it lasted. 

Anyway, I hope you’re doing well and getting out after them. This Spring has been incredibly nice with mild temps and no humidity. I hope it continues for a while longer.”

Private Waters: 

UO guide Ben said his client had a great morning fishing our new stretch of stream north of the shop. Resident rainbows were nailing egg and small streamer patterns in the high, murky flow from the previous night’s rain.

UO guide Caleb: “Our northern stream fished great earlier this week. This client is at the beginning stages of his fly fishing journey and was able to practice his hookset often on some big rainbows. Effective patterns were a golden chubby and a brown pats rubber legs.”

UO guide Como also had a great morning trip for his clients at Soque Camp. He said the magic combo for the day was a purple chubby with his Cajun Special nymph dropped off the back.

Warmwater Streams:

No reports this week. Smart folks will let the water direct their trips. The Hooch at Highway 115 was high and blood-red at 730 this morning when I crossed it to work our Clarkesville store. As it clears, hit the shady shallows for river bass and bream that can see your bugs. Use your submerged toes as a turbidity meter for the max depth you can fish.

Striper hunters should watch the forecast and the radar, then call our shop to book a dawn or dusk striper trip at The Bend. Resident stripers are educated now and humiliate us in clear water. But their IQ’s plummet in muddy flows. Catch the wave a catch a trophy. A weather app and a 706-878-3083 reservation will make you a fine memory.

Small Lakes:

Athens Jay: “Our Oconee River TU fundraiser included a guided trip for bluegill with me (imagine that!) The trip happened this week and it was a pleasure to have Jessica from Athens on the water with me. She is very new to fly fishing, but did a great job despite windy conditions. Her smiles make me think she had some fun!”

UO buddy Bert in Waycross: “Good morning Jeff! I used the rod I built when I was 14, the reel I bought from you (through UO) and some of my bugs and sallies (popper-dropper setup) and caught 37 of these in 3 1/2hrs yesterday. It was a HOOT! You gotta come do this with me next year once I’m retired! It’s public water but everyone fishes for bass and crappie. Hope you’re whacking them up there!”


HenryC: “This week was about rain, wind and water temps. North GA had a bunch of much m-needed rain this week and that affected our fishing from Gainesville to Sandy Springs. Water clarity was a bit of an issue on the carp flats, as was water levels. COE seems to have reduced the generation schedules this week and while trout anglers loved it for the 32 mile stretch below lake Lanier, carp anglers suffered the consequences. Up on Lanier itself the wind kept our water temps well below the magic 80 degree number we are looking for to kick off topwater season. While fish are being caught regardless of mid-seventy water temps, the pattern is to throw over brush on humps that are 20-25' deep. This will change for the better and become more visual once temps rise a little on the pond...”


UO buddy Landon: “We followed Henry’s advice in last week’s report and chased schooling fish that were on bluebacks. It wasn’t on fire , but we caught a few chunky spots and had a fun couple of hours.”

Henry also gave us a heads-up on this new state law regarding boat wakes:


Your wildlife agency always has a bunch of great weekly reservoir intel and some bonus trout tips in its blog. Read the latest one here and sign up to receive future reports (scroll down to “follow” on the bottom):



Our NM buddy Craig checked in:

“First time out yesterday chasing my coveted native cutts. We’ve had so much snow and rain on top of snowmelt that have kept me off our high elevation streams. My favorite spot is at 9,200 feet. A trusty ole elk hair caddis was the ticket.

My daughter made friends with classmates at New Mexico State. They’ve had some good trips, too.”

You can catch Craig’s latest publication here:


UO buddy CDB lamented: “My buddies out west are killing me. They went to my favorite brown trout river and tore them up in my hole using little size 20 stuff. A couple went 22-24”, and this particular, very selective slab took ….. a white bobber!  

Sometimes I believe we overthink this trout thing. For my part, I just ordered a dozen white bobbers in a variety of sizes so that I can be sure to match the hatch next time I’m out there. “

That’s the latest from our fishy clan at UO. We sure hope your own clans have a wonderful Father’s Day weekend. Watch the weather and the stream gauges and let them guide you to early summer success. And when in doubt, just call us. We’re pretty good guides, too!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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