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.


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