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, August 4, 2023

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report 8/4/23

The summer siesta continues as we remain high and dry and hot. We were hoping for more rain from yesterday’s storm front, but the heavy stuff missed us to the west. What a bummer!  As a result, area trout streams remain very low, clear, and warm. Three high Hooch tribs ran 66, 68, and 68F at 10AM today.  It’s best to leave those south slope streams alone for now. You can look for cooler water on north slopes and in NC. Good trout opportunities still exist on higher elevation stocked streams during the morning and on our two tailwaters any time of the day.

River bass and bream are still a real good bet when the water’s low and clear between storms.  Jake and Jay verified this prospect for us.  River stripers have sulked in the low, warm water and require a high, muddy surge to succumb to our streamers. Pond and lake bassing is still good and really your best bet for the week ahead. Just go early or late and avoid the midday bake.

See our full report and another batch of great pics at blog.angler management. Stop in either UO store (Helen, Clarkesville) for the latest advice and supplies for your August hydrotherapy sessions.

Wes’ Hot Fly List:  


Parachute ant, Royal Wulff, yellow humpy, micro chubby.

Nymphs & Wets:

Hard body ant, green weenie, prince, hares ear, squirmy worm (for stockers). 

Streamers & warm water:

Double barrel popper, jiggy craw, low fat minnow, finesse changer, polar changer.


As mentioned, our south slope streams are hot and droughty. Give their fish a summer break. We need nighttime temperatures to dip down to the low 60’s up here until our local headwaters see some fishable water temperatures.  Try our north slope streams before lunch if you insist on wild salmonids.


Smokies headwater streamflows and water temps remain better than our lower elevation creeks. Ian at R&R Flyfishing in Townsend reported that August trouting in the park has remained good due to the frequent storms that have recharged his local creeks. 


As always, check out Byron’s daily park reports here before your burn your expensive gas. And remember your daily parking pass.


Stocker Streams:

Harvest a few WRD stockers during a morning fishing/swimming trip with your kids. You can have some decent stocker success up to about 68-69 degrees.  See the stocker report in here:


Stockers are domesticated strains and don’t survive well in the wild. By program design, they’re meant to be harvested, so take some home for supper. Light lines, small hooks (#10 or #12), and small baits usually work better for warm summer stockers with limited appetites. The same goes for your flies, so try swinging small (#16-18) soft hackles on 5X or 6X tippet.

Check GAWRD’s latest stocking list here:


Tailwaters: No reports from our regulars this week. Both the Buford and Blue Ridge tailwaters should still fish fairly well, especially on their upper halves where water temperatures are still cold. Be on the lookout for cloudy water and lower dissolved oxygen on the Hooch as reservoir stratification starts to affect the dam discharge in the coming weeks.   Hooch Tailwater oxygen levels usually recover downstream, due to turbulence and mixing, by about Highway 20.  More info here will prepare you for fall Hooch fishing conditions:


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

Warmwater Streams: 

UO owner Jimmy slipped out to the Hooch one evening this week. He only spent an hour casting a spinning rod, but landed three shoalies to about 14 inches on a shaky head worm.

UO friend Landon: “I snuck out for a couple hours yesterday morning and caught some Chattahoochee bass on the upper Chestatee. They ate anything we’d put in front of them so long as we found where they are hiding.”

UO fish whisperer Jake: “Slipped out to the river the other day prior to the rain rolling in and had a really great couple of hours on the water. The water was very low and clear, which made getting to the fish difficult, but we were rewarded with some really nice fish. River bass fishing will be very good for the next couple of months until we begin to cool off and switch focus back to trout.”

UO friend RSquared:  “I was blessed to do some river striper fishing this past week. I waited till it was almost dark before I began casting for them.  I used half a dozen flies, but only got one follow & no takes from the school of big stripers 40 feet in front of me. It had not rained as much as I hoped for, so the river was too low and clear for me to fool them with feathers.

As the old saying goes, “that’s why they call it fishing, not catching!” Pictured is a dark-thirty river striper I did catch two years ago.

I also caught several Chattahoochee Bass this past week in an effort to add a 6th species to my 2023 list for the GA Bass Slam. 


None of the fish I landed met the minimum size limit but a few were close. I had one that would have been well over the 8” minimum, but it shook off the hook as I tried to net it. Stripping a woolly bugger was the effective strategy. Love those little creek bass! “

Small Lakes:

Our long-lost buddy, Splatek, took time out from his hunting addiction to report: “A few hot days had the neighborhood lake back to normal/low conditions. Murky water, but we decided to take out the canoe anyhow. The fish were deep hitting pumpkinseed crawdads. The takes were soft, but once they were on, they were flying. We caught about fifteen LMB’s in the 1-3 pound range during our two-hour trip.  This kid is happiest with a rod in his hand. “


HenryC: “No change from last week. Water temps on Lanier around 85-87F  in the mornings. Fish are still munching on topwater walk-the-dog baits. Fly fishing is fair but conventional fishing is great. Spots are in the 1 1/2-3 1/2 pound range with decent numbers being caught every trip. Stay away from stripers for the next 3-4 weeks as the warm water and low oxygen will kill nearly every fish caught below 30 feet. This is always the case from August til early Sept, as the low oxygen levels will stress the fish.”


Editor’s note: More on Lanier oxygen here:



New UO friend BrandonJ: “I had a very good trip to Maine, catching native brookies on dries.  I had my best luck on elk hair caddis and stimulators.”

Athens Jay: “Swamp fishing!  I fished for dinosaurs in a stream that flows through beautiful bottomland forest dominated by mature gum trees. Water was clear and the creek was full of predators (bass, chain pickerel, gar and bowfin). Sight-fishing for bowfin is quite an adventure!

Trip 2 was to a Piedmont River, where the water was low and clear. No giants landed, but I managed to get several good fish to eat. A big shad-colored streamer fished with a sinking clear tip was the ticket. “

That’s the latest as we slog through summer and pray for more rain. While we’re high and dry, take advantage of those river and lake bass. You don’t have to worry about snapping a thin tippet. You just have to worry about then bending and breaking your rod. Good luck as we all tolerate this month and gaze toward some cooler September nights. Stop in either UO shop for a shot of air conditioning and the hottest daily intel to find you a few August fish.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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