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 2, 2023

UO Fishing Report 6/2/23

Summer is knocking on our door and we must switch our tactics to match the new season. Headwater trout are good but the water is skinny. Larger streams might have a few weeks of acceptable temperatures left in them, and are fishing decently in the mornings. The Smokies cheat with an extra thousand feet of elevation, and those colder NC waters can extend our spring trout season. The bream spawn and resident bass make ponds a bit hit, while river bass and stripers now give floating fans some great targets.  We do hope for summer storms that will recharge our streams, and carry raincoats in case a black cloud descends upon our fishing trip. Scan through our full report on the blog for spec’s that will put you on more fish this week. Stop in either UO shop if we can help you further. And don’t forget the dessicant!

Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries: tan elk hair caddis (#16), micro chubby, yellow stimulator, goober sally, knobbler sally, 409 Yeager yellow, parachute light cahill (16), para ant.

Nymphs & Wets:

green weenie, hard body ant, micro girdle bug, Duracell, hares ear.

Streamers & warm water:

Amnesia bug popper (for bream), double barrel bass bug, hybrid changer, jerk changer, sparkle minnow.


Extend your trouting spring by heading uphill or north of the border for colder water. Our small streams remain small and skinny due to a lack of recent rain but their temps are fine, thanks to cool nights.  Residents are hungry but spooky, so angler stealth is the primary requirement for success.  Guru and Dredger went high above Helen  after work yesterday (1st) and had fun with little blueline rainbows. Most were in drought mode and had retreated to deeper spots in the stream.  The standard #16 tan caddis worked well when it was frequently redosed with dessicant and again rode  “high n dry.” Don’t leave home without a bottle of that magic stuff.

The Smokies are still fishing well, despite the end of the region’s major spring bug hatches. Ian and Charity just posted a nice update. Note their sage advice on raincoats.


Before you go park prospecting, remember to check out Byron’s daily prospects here:


UO buddy CDB: 

“Fished the border waters this week with friend TJ.  I planned to break in my little 6’9” bamboo 4 wt. and we were going to fish some of the areas not supported by stocking to see what was there.  We were also hoping to catch some late season mayfly action. 

There was nothing coming off, but I was committed.  My mom said “if you truly believe in yourself you can do anything”. So I tied on a leftover drake pattern from my days in the northeast and decided I was going to believe, truly believe, in it. Of course, just for some level of security I tied a small WD-40 as a dropper. I still felt half naked out there - no streamer and waving around a whippy little bamboo rod…

My belief, inexplicably, paid off. In the first hour I had completed the Appalachian Slam, and had about a half dozen little trout, mostly browns, to hand. Every single one took that big old drake. Over the course of the afternoon the only thing I had picked up on the various nymph patterns was a small shiner and some sort of orange cheeked chub. TJ’s experience was the same, although he did pick up one or two on a yellow sally. Nothing really came off all the way until darkness settled in. A bug here and there. No dark thirty fun to be had. 

Next morning, after doing my good deed by shepherding a lovely constrictor safely across the gravel road, we tied back on drakes and went at it again. TJ made a nice stealthy approach and a masterful cast, and was rewarded for his efforts with a chunky, big jawed, stream-bred beauty. The rest of the day was slower and while I picked up one fish on a bead head olive split case, everything else was on the drake. I can’t explain it. No drakes to be seen. But … just for good measure I called my mom and told she was right. I believe!”

Delayed Harvest:

Smith DH still has some fish in it, as it’s redosed regularly thru GAWRD’s stocking season.  UO buddy LM ran out for a few afternoon hours and landed several fish on dry/dropper combos. She had to switch flies often to encourage eats in her prime pool.

Chattooga DH will still get some stockers from SCDNR as long as its water temps remain cool. You can fish with flies or bait, now that the DH restrictions are over, and can keep some fish for dinner if you’d like. Ami DH will soon heat up, but Toccoa will stay cooler on that northern face, so DH leftovers are still a possibility.

Two sets of Rabunites ran across the border this week for a NC DH last hurrah, as that state’s DH season ends tonite.  The O’Hara duo had a sunny but slow trip on dry/droppers.  Nan said: “ We had a slow day on the DH stream. Had to go early due to too many other things on the to-do list. We each caught a few. Rick got best fish with a very nice brown. He caught his fish on your emergers. Mine were on a stimulator and an emerger. No fish were interested in caddis or sallies offered, though there were plenty of the real things flying around this morning.”

Bluejay and Dredger went a few days earlier, arrived around supper, and fished til dark. Fish were deep and picky in the sunshine, but small nymph and midge droppers still worked well in pools. More fish looked at their lead dry fly in the shallower riffles and pockets, especially in the shade.  Tan caddis and yellow sally dries worked best. They worked really well at 730 when the real sallies danced and plenty of fish then rose til dark.

Stocker Streams:

The weather is warm and the stocker fishing remains hot for most streams. Lower elevation waters may warm this week with some summer weather aimed our way, so start heading for higher elevation streams with colder water for your best catch rates. Buggers, eggs, rubberlegs, and squirmies are stocker favorites. If the water is real skinny and fish are picky, swing a small soft hackle on 6X tippet through shady pools and pockets. 

See the weekly trout stocking list here:


Private Waters:  We are  watching water temps and are only fishing in the mornings right now. Last week our Rainbow North property on the Soque  still fished well  for Jake’s client, who scored on dredged midges and yellow soft hackles.

We’ve just picked up a stretch of stream a short drive north of our Helen shop that is cooler and should fish farther into the summer. It’s got a real nice population of chunky wild rainbows, along with some trophy fish. Call the shop to inquire.

Warmwater Streams:

Some reservoir stripers have headed upstream to their summer homes in tributary rivers. Tis the season to go prospecting with 8-weight rods and big streamers resembling shad and trout.  Grab that canoe/kayak, a PFD, and a friend for fun and safety and hit the Hooch, Chestatee, or Etowah for resident bass and tourist stripers.

UO buddy Landon: “It IS possible to do the Georgia Bass Slam all in one day. My friend Pat got in on it, too. Overall pretty slow, but we caught a few dragging a worm.  Not recommended -  a lot of driving and dragging boats!”

RSquared weighed in: “Our local streams in NW Ga are still maintaining excellent stream temperatures and most received a fresh load of trout before the Memorial Day Weekend!  The cool thing about these creeks is the aquatic biodiversity! In addition to trout, anglers can expect to catch a variety of various panfish and of course, our Coosa Redeye Bass! Get a copy of Georgia's Trout Map, identify some of the state's beautiful northwestern streams and go exploring for new & exciting fishing opportunities!”

Small Lakes:

Ponds are still hot. Aim for low light for better catch rates, so hit your favorite flat waters at dawn, dusk and along the shaded bank during the day. 

Athens Jay checked in: “Full moon madness is in effect this weekend, but I couldn’t wait. I took my paddleboard out after work to fish the evening magic, arriving on the water around 6:00pm. If you enjoy catching big bluegill on the fly, now is the time. It’s been relatively cool, so sunfishes are still in shallow water. Be stealthy, make long casts to light-colored patches of substrate. A popper/dropper rig works really well. The dropper only needs to be about 8”-10” deep. I highly recommend a bead-head Pat’s Rubberlegs in variegated brown.”

UO staffer and new HS grad Joseph: “Had a great evening of pond bassin. Caught a ton of fish using a black bunny leech. I’ve probably caught more pond bass on that specific fly than any other. Today I only used SA’s bass bug line on a 6wt rod, but a tropical intermediate could be used to help get flies down deeper. Casting up into bushes or along trees seemed the best,  and in places where there wasn’t any structure I found it best to retrieve the fly parallel to the bank. Pond fishing is also a great way to practice strip sets and casting technique. Even if you’re a seasoned angler it always helps to work on fundamentals.”


UO buddy RonW:”I fished Lake Arrowhead with my cousin last Saturday night and Sunday AM before we had a jonboat motor failure. The water had a slight stain to it, which is welcomed on Lake Arrowhead. For some reason the fish weren't too fired up though.

I only landed one fish Saturday night and four Sunday morning, all dinks with no size. Two fell victim on the wacky rig and three on a chartreuse spinnerbait. Still, it was a great weekend be on the water with my cousin doing what we love. 

HenryC said: “Fishing has gotten a tad bit better this week. It seems as if the topwater bite is just starting to fire up. Fish are on points and humps and walk the dog baits have produced best. This means fly fishers can toss pole dancer flies for these fish. It's a mix of spotted bass and small stripers. Carp fishing is fair at best as we still need warmer water temps to kick that fishery off. Stay tuned as more will come with the warmup next week.”

Our wildlife agency always has a bunch of great weekly reservoir intel and some bonus trout tips in its blog:


There’s your latest regional intel as we slide into summer. Late is great for trout, while we must watch water temps on bigger/lower elevation waters and start heading uphill or below a really big dam for better trout temps and takes. Pond and river bass and bream will start getting more of our attention in the heat, and we’ll rely on Henry’s optimism for some summer Lanier topwater action. Grab your sunscreen and raincoat and go have some summer fun.  Take advantage of a  stormflow if you’re lucky enough to get one on your favorite trout stream or striper river (like our Nacoochee Bend special).  Stop in either UO store for the most current tips, tactics, and bugs to make your day successful.  Got some tan caddis and a bottle of dessicant?

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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