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, July 21, 2023

UO Fishing Report 7/21/23

We are back with the UO fishing report after our own week of playing hooky amongst the bison and pronghorns. It’s still hot and humid here and the fishing reflects the summer weather. Headwater trout are still possible real early, while tailwater trout keep rockin’ along. River bass have been good, but yesterday’s storms just muddied up our local waters and you may have to wait a few days for them to clear. Ponds are still great and reservoirs, esp Lanier, have settled into their hot summer patterns.  The latest trip reports and tips from UO’s fine stable of reporters is on our blog. Notice the very long list of reports and pics from afar!

Good luck surviving the summer heat.  Submerge yourself in your favorite fishing hole soon. I sure miss my bed quilt and those forty degree mornings in Yellowstone last week!

Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

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

Nymphs & Wets:

improved yallarhammer, green weenie, drowned ant, prince nymph.

Streamers & warm water:

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


They’re low and warm. Fish will be in full fright mode, packed into pools and under logjams. They’re starving, as usual, during summer’s  low flows and will compete for your bug - if you haven’t spooked the hole.

Hooch headwater tribs have been running 64-68F by midmorning this week , due to our steamy nights. If you wanna blueline, then go early, hit north slope streams, or drive up to the Smokies once their current stormflows subside.  Check out Byron’s daily park reports here:


UO guide Caleb: “I had a public water trip late last week. Fishing was effective both on top and subsurface. Our most productive fly was the green weenie dropped underneath a yellow stubby chubby. Fish the pools when you find them!”

Stocker Streams: WRD just released another long list of stocked waters. Hit them in the cool mornings for the best bite. 


Tailwaters: No reports to us. Web reports show both the Toccoa and Hooch tailwaters still fishing well.

Private Waters:  No reports. Larger streams are shut down for the summer to give their trophy trout a break. 

Warmwater Streams: 

UO company manager Jake had some recent float trips: “River bass fishing has been productive with recent low flows. We had a really good week, including some quality fish finding their way into the boat. Topwater and various swim flies accounted for nearly all of the action this week, with only a few fish coming on bottom bouncing crayfish patterns.”


Athens Jay said Piedmont rivers were low and warm, but resident shoalies were fairly cooperative when he finally dialed them in. The low water allowed him to float between shoals and wade in them for his best stalks.  He said the residents ignored both his topwater bugs and his dark, bottom-bounced streamers. The winning recipe was large, light-colored streamers on a strip-and-pause retrieve just a foot or two under the surface. The bass would then inhale his streamer on the pause.

Small Lakes:

UO regular reporter Athens MD: “Fished a local lake on Sunday after about 4pm. Very little action on the 3wt with a hopper-dropper set up, so I rigged up my 5wt with a yellow and black foam popper and a size 6 brown rubber-legged dragon dropper. Fished the edges of beds of vegetation teeming with dragonflies in 4-5 feet of water and pulled in 5 largemouth bass between 7:30 and 8:30pm--two on the popper and three on the dropper. Last one was a 20-incher that ran maybe 4.5lbs. Warm water fly-fishing at its best!”

UO buddy RSquared: “Lately, my son Matt & I have been hitting the farm ponds during the final two hours before dark. ( not sunset, but dark). During the dog days of summer, largemouth bass begin moving into the shallows to feed before nightfall and will continue to feed until sunup. This pattern should continue through August. I like to use Stealth Bombers, Boogle Bugs, Streamers, and crawfish imitations. “


RSquared again: “My son Matt & I were able to fish with the "Lanier Legend", Henry Cowen this week. The top-water bite for spots was consistent all morning!  Poppers were working on the 8wt fly rod while walking the dawg with Zara Spooks was very effective on spinning gear. We had a blast!”

UO young gun Ben: “Jacob and I have had a really good week.  Fish are in their true summer areas, so look for cooler water, whether that be shallow in some shade or out deep.”

HenryC: “Lake Lanier is fishing really well the past week plus! The warmer surface water temps have fired up the topwater spotted bass fishing. While fishing the fly is okay and fish will be caught, fishing a topwater walk-the-dog bait will really get the spotted bass' attention. We had days where we raised 2dz plus fish on topwater. Fish are all over the lake. South lake has the biggest spots while north lake is fishing well with less pressure. We've even caught a few stripers and largemouth mixed into the catches on topwater and on sinking fly lines when the opportunity presents itself. While I look forward to the fall surface striper activity in early October, it's hard to beat the aggressiveness of Alabama spotted bass eating off the surface. It's some of the most exhilarating fishing Lanier offers!”



UO buddy Ryan: “Destin inshore mangrove snapper & a redfish caught jigging a sz 14 frenchie PT jig, no kidding!  A rainy week had the surf slow, but shallow action was hot with big reds and trout visible.”

UO friend Andres: “Hey Jeff! Hope all is well! Caroline and I hit her home waters of Michigan last week. Had a great time catching smallmouth and rock bass. Managed to land a few browns as well.”

UO guide Caleb: Creek fishing “out west” was outstanding during our early July vacation. A Hopper/dropper using a local fly shop’s stonefly pattern,  has produced the most success. The runoff is finally over and the water is staying cold all day long. Go fish all day up to sundown!”

UO young gun Joseph, the Alaska guide: “Fishing has been great so far this summer. Chelatna lake has been great for lakers and occasional rainbows on game changers, leeches, and sparkle minnows. Pike fishing depends on the water levels but when the water is high we are sure to find them in shallow grassy areas. The pike are very opportunistic but I’ve caught a lot of fish on a bright red deceiver pattern. The rivers and creeks in the surrounding areas have been great also. Some hot flies for grayling and bows in the river have been prince nymphs, hares ears, stoneflies and sparkle minnows. No sign of salmon yet but we are expecting them by the end of the month.  As the month goes on we are expecting to hit a lull in the fishing on the river as a number of fish will go downstream to find the salmon and then chase them back up. Overall fishing has been great and it’s only going to get better from here! “

We’d also like to wish UO buddy Landon well in his semi-retirement from our fishing reporter pool. He and wife Andrea are the proud new parents of twins, one girl and one boy. Congrats!!!!

That’s the latest from a continuing steamy north Georgia. Pick your fishing times carefully and have fun under the clouds and stars. Stop in either UO shop for the latest intel and hot summer bugs. And maybe a little advice on taking a trip “out yonder.”

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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