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, October 27, 2023

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 10/27/23


Welcome back to another week of “flats fishing” for mountain trout.  Skinny, clear water has us thinking that we’re stalking bonefish instead of brookies and browns. But trouters with stealth, long leaders, and tiny bugs continued to score well. Fall dry fly fishing is a blast! The intel in our blog (what, how, when, and where) will boost your own catch rates. Don’t forget that GA DH streams open for business on November 1st, too!

Lake stripers have been temperamental, especially on top during the day. The nite bite is heating up, according to Grant and Joseph.  Bass were the better bet for Jake and Ben this week.

Fishing should only improve with dropping water temps and hopefully some rain in the forthcoming month.  Fishing’s pretty good right now and should be excellent when colder nights and higher streamflows hit us in November.


Remember to clean, inspect, and dry your gear between trips to different streams and states to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species like whirling disease. If you can afford such, consider a second pair of wading shoes.


Folks who dig deeper here will find our hot UO intel and boost their catch rates. Good luck this week!


Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries:  Elk hair caddis, orange stimulator, parachute Adams, BWO, olive and cream midges.

Nymphs & Wets: Plus one, soft hackle pheasant tail, zebra midge, RS2, Twister egg.

Streamers & warm water:

(Trout) muddy buddy, jiggy fat minnow, (bass & stripers) clouser minnow, finesse changer.


UO buddy RSquared: “Low, clear water has made fishing for wild trout very technical. You will experience better success on some of the larger wild streams in WNC.  I have been using a neversink caddis  dry and dropping a size 16or 18 pheasant tail on 7x fluorocarbon below it. You will now have to compete with the countless leaves falling in the streams!”

Athens Jay: “Georgia trout waters are extremely low and in need of rain. When you spot fish in slow, calm water- they are very spooky and may ignore everything you present to them. I had better luck ignoring those fish, and scouting for deep runs with greater current velocity so that fish had to make a quick decision about eating. I had luck with a #16 brown Perdigon and a #12 variegated brown Rubberlegs, both under a tan Chernobyl (nothing  but Warpaint Shiners caught on the dry). Stealth is really important, and I fished a longer leader/tippet than usual. “

Delayed Harvest:

UGA 5Rivers Club leaders Vann and Conner: “Hey Dredger, We had a great weekend in Brevard. We were fishing the East Fork of the French Broad for most of the weekend, and they were hitting consistently on caddis/adams (usually size 18 and 20) and orange simulators (size 14 and 16). They were also hitting on size 16 and 18 pheasant tails and hares ear as well. We are going to get some of our other members to shoot you a report as well.”

Fellow 5River clubber Cooper: “On Saturday, North Mills was difficult! If you wanted to catch a trout you had to blend in, be quiet, and fish natural flies. Later that day the club moved to the East Fork of the French Broad River. The water was low so fish were willing to rise. Double digits were caught with a double-dry, Parachute Adams & Light Cahill, and a dropper with a hares ear shape and olive green color.

Dredger slipped back up to Nan DH last Monday and had a big time with his flimsy dry fly rod. Surface sippers were keyed in on the tiny, emerging BWO’s. His #24 olive midge was good enough to match the hatch and he picked off risers in just one long, slow pool for 90 minutes. More trip details are in yesterday’s UO post.


Don’t forget the November 1 kickoff for Georgia’s DH streams. Give those fine state & federal fish-tossers that full day on the 1st to distribute trout with their bucket-toting TU volunteers. Then have some fun from the 2nd onward. For new folks, remember the GADH online stream maps. On the WRD trout page, scroll down to the “trout fishing opportunities” tab, then click on the DH stream names in blue font. Start your digging here:


Stocker Streams:

Leftovers are still around, especially on the larger streams that likely got more fish.  Cover a lot of ground to pick off the leftovers, which are mainly browns. And some stockers are now looking for real bugs, so consult Wes’ hot fly list.



HenryC: “I used one of my cancelled lake days to hit the Hooch and fish for trout with a couple of good customers. Fun was had and a wild brown about 14+" was caught on a yellow streamer. Thank goodness for fish with dots...”

WRD biologist Hunter Roop and his partners have some excellent tailwater intel and pics in today’s WRD weekly fishing blog:


Private Waters: 

UO-Helen manager Wes: “The name of the game while fishing private waters right now is stealth, patience, and a clean drift. I did a couple of guide trips this week and we were able to catch some nice fish. However, with the low flows, a longer leader and a drag-free drift are more important than fly selection at the moment.

Soft hackles, pheasant tails, Zebra midges, and eggs worked well for me this week. Dropping down to lighter tippet like 5X & 6X will produce more strikes as well.”

UO guide Caleb: “Rainbow Point on the Soque fished very well Thursday morning. Early we caught several on a size 20 PMD and couple on a WD-40 underneath it. Once the sun poked its head out we had to switch tactics. A double nymph rig was on fire using a small pheasant tail and an egg pattern.”

UO guide Ben: “Peyton and his dad had a great time fishing Rainbow Point with me this week.  This brown trout was definitely the highlight of the trip.”

Check out our guided trips here, then call the shop (706-878-3083) to reserve your slot:


Warmwater Streams: no recent reports, as most of our folks’ attention has now turned to trout.

Small Lakes: No recent reports. Subsurface bassin’ should be good for another month or so before dropping water temps slow down the bite.


 Ben Smith, Jake Darling, and Jacob Brewster had “a good day on the lake,” catching some nice bass on one of Georgia’s great highland, herring fisheries.  They found fish both deep and shallow. Stop in UO’s Clarkesville  store for the skinny on lures and techniques to lip more of these fat fall spots and largemouths in our mountain reservoirs.

Hank: “Positively beautiful sunrises and sunsets are in store for Lake Lanier this fall. Unfortunately I moved all my trips this week out a week as the bite just disappeared. The likely culprit is lake stratification.  Even the bait guides struggled this week. But not to worry as we fully expect this will change again shortly, maybe on the backside of this weekend’s full moon. This happens every year and thankfully it's short-lived. Once we get thru this phase, the fish again will feed on top and visual fishing will be at its best for the next several months! You can catch a trip with me here:


UO staffers Grant and Joseph: “Striper fishing on Lanier is picking up.  We’re starting to see more and more bigger fish on the lights. Find some night lights away from the wind and in deeper water to find the bigger fish. Using a full sinking line and letting a heavier fly sink is the key,  unless you are able to see the fish swimming shallow and chasing bait.”

UO buddy Landon aka Gilligan:  “No stripers coming up during our Lanier trip, but we did find some healthy spots chasing bluebacks for the little bit of fishing we did. Our Fuel/ water separator went out on the engine and we coudln’t get it going again. We used the trolling motor to get to the 2-mile ramp and wait for backup to rescue us!”

Enjoy this fine fall weather on your favorite water. Stop in either UO shop (Helen and Clarkesville). We’ll be sure to show you the low-water tricks to score more treats while we await November’s rains. Good luck and thanks for your business and friendship!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


Friday, October 20, 2023

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 10/20/23


There are two types of web anglers and we welcome both. Shallow anglers enjoy our pics and scroll past our posts quickly.  Deeper running anglers click on an extra link or two, dig deeper, and excavate some precious nuggets of intel that put them on more fish. Pick your “depth” and have fun during this great fall fishing fest!



Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries:  Elk hair caddis, stimulator, parachute Adams, BWO, cream midge.

Nymphs & Wets: Plus one, soft hackle hares ear, pheasant tail nymph, zebra midge, WD-40, oops, Twister egg.

Streamers & warmwater:

(trout) sparkle minnow, jiggy fat minnow. (bass/striper) Clouser minnow, finesse changer.


Trout waters remain low, slim, and super-clear. Last night’s 1/3 inch of rain hardly dented their flows. Local headwaters were low and clear this morning, even after the rain. 


Dry fly and emerger action is good on headwater, DH, and stocker streams. Private waters are also fishing well on small dredged bugs by anglers with a stealthy stalk.

Remember to clean, inspect, and dry your gear between trips to different streams and states to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species like whirling disease. If you can afford such, consider a second pair of wading shoes.


Reservoir bass and striper fishing continues to improve with falling lake temperatures. Hank’s got the latest scoop from his fishing Falcons.

The leaves are beautiful and air temperatures are perfect for anglers.  We are blessed to live and fish in this region of abundant federal lands and waters as our playgrounds.  Enjoy my Hogpen Gap pics from this morning.  Here’s the latest intel:


They’re still low and clear. Two tribs high above Helen were 56F at 8 this morning. Leaf fall is not too bad yet. Stealth and a little, drag-free dry will bring you some good topwater action. Ian just provided a nice Smokies update. Note the tip that warm afternoons are better than chilly mornings.


Delayed Harvest:

The NC streams are still fishing well, despite the low flows. It’s the same story of stealth to prevent spooking the fish in these skinny waters. There are two bright sides to thin streams right now. First, surviving stockers are quickly adapting to real fish food, stream bugs. Consider dropping that Y2K and squirmy for a pheasant tail or WD-40. Second, skinny water allows fish to look up easily. Cash in on dry fly action now, before water temps drop below 50 and dampen the topwater bite.

UO buddy Lumis returned to Nan DH and even tried his hand at a video:”Went back to Nantahala again on Saturday. Fish smartened up a good bit since last time. Still caught 13 on an egg/PT combo but obviously those fish have gotten good at hiding because I was seeing very few compared to last time. The river was extremely crowded, though it got better in the afternoon, and I am sure those fish were really feeling the pressure. Enjoy my first shot at a video:”


Dredger drove to the Nan on Wednesday to hopefully hit peak leaf colors and some trout action in the gorge. He was two-for-two upon his 2PM arrival.

The water was low and clear and 54F, some bugs were flying, and noses were poking through the surface for emergers.   A lot of midges, scattered BWO’s, and a few small October caddis and cahills flew past him. 

So he went unleaded - no weight!  Not a midge fan, he instead knotted on a #16 para Adams on 5X as his indicator and a #18 pheasant tail as the 6X dropper, two feet under the dry. 

And never changed patterns during the next two hours of action, although he dropped to 6X on the dry for a better drift. About three fish hit the dry for each one inhaling the dropper. A big bunch of little wild bows, four wild browns, and all three flavors of larger stockers came to hand. Hi-sticking with his 10ft Euro rod, with only a foot or three of tippet on the water, enhanced his drag-free drifts through the slow seams where the bubbles, bugs, and fish converged.

The action slowed when the shadows began to fall at 4PM.  He got a few more on a #16 tan elk hair caddis and yellow stimmy before the river switch turned off at 5PM. There was enough light left to drive the gorge and admire the fall foliage.

For folks coming from afar, toss a sleeping bag in your car and stay over at one of the local campgrounds, private or fed. Google “Brookside” near Topton and make a reservation. 

And if you’d like to give a longer Euro rod a try this season, then check out our Echo Carbon XL and Orvis Clearwater models:


Stocker Streams:

Leftovers are still around, especially on the larger streams that likely got more fish.  Cover a lot of ground to pick off the leftovers, which are mainly browns. And some stockers are now looking for real bugs.


UO buddy and fellow Rabunite Nanette: “ Hubby and I made time for hydrotherapy! I caught 8 trout on a local stocker stream, with all falling for a #14 orange stimulator. I netted 7 browns and one teeny rainbow. Rick got a rainbow and a brown on an elk hair caddis. I forgot all about life’s challenges and loved every minute of standing in a stream again, watching a tapestry of colorful leaves fall and float down the river, and exercising some feisty brown trout. Yep, you were right when you said the next trout I caught would be the best trout of my life.”

Tailwaters: no recent reports.

Private Waters: 

UO-Helen manager Wes: “Private waters produced some good fish this week. Be prepared to work for them though with the very low flows. Stealth, a good drift, and changing up fly patterns is key.

Early morning, when shade was on the water, squirmy worms, and jig style nymphs worked for me. Once the sun started shining on the water midges, small natural nymphs, and soft hackles worked better.”

UO owner Jimmy: “Young Jackson C celebrates his first trout on the fly. He fished Nacoochee Bend last Sunday and had a blast.”

UO guide Caleb: “our northern property was productive this week, although the fish were spooky. Effective patterns were rainbow warriors and slush eggs, though stealth and a long cast was the best strategy.

I had a second trip yesterday to Rainbow Point on the Soque. The reach fished very well despite the low water. The cool air combined with perfect water temps made the fish happy. Very few fish rose to the surface, so nymphing was the key. A mop fly and slush egg brought the most trout to hand.”

UO guide Israel: “ The flies in this new magnetic puck from Fishpond have been paying the mortgage for me this week.  Stealth is still concern number 1 over any magical fly pattern. Midges in the size 18-20 range were my most productive patterns this week.  Shout out to the Purple Rainbow Warrior!”

Interested in a trip or learning how to fly fish? More info here:


Warmwater Streams: 

No recent reports, as most of our folks’ attention has now turned to trout.

Small Lakes: 

No recent reports. Subsurface bassin’ should be good for another month or so before dropping water temps slow down the bite.


Browns back into Burton:

See today’s WRD news in here:


Hank: “Weather was the name of the game this week for fishing on Lake Lanier. Water temps are hovering around 70-71 degrees and that's exactly where we want to be. Fishing has been up and down this week as the weather fronts can really play havoc with the fishes’ feeding habits. Sunday/Monday the fishing was lights-out, while Tuesday was the day after the front and the bite was very poor. It rebounded some on Wednesday and as of this writing I am predicting Thursday and Friday should be quite good. 

Same patterns as last week apply. Fish are on threadfin and herring. Depending on the group you come upon it's important to quickly read which forage they're on in order to present the correct bait. For flyrodders, the somethin else fly is ideal when they're on threads and a game changer is best when they're feeding on herring. For conventional anglers a Sashimi Shad is the go-to bait along with walk the dawg (GO UGA) baits also producing. Lastly, for anglers wanting an easier bite on the pond "the bomber bite" is in full mode right now. Go out at first or last light when it's basically dark and toss long A bombers up shallow on sand to catch stripers. You can do that throughout the nite for the next 2-4 weeks. 

Grab some of these hot lake lures at UO’s Clarkesville store. And enjoy the pic of our fishing Falcons, Nate and Troy, on the pond with me this week.”


Adoption Kudos!

We salute Cohutta TU for its awesome mentoring efforts. RSquared reports:

“This past week, The Cohutta Chapter of TU held their annual campout at Rattler Ford near Robbinsville in Western North Carolina. Joining the "Old Guy's," were 25 college students from the UGA and GT 5 Rivers Fly Fishing Clubs. The DH streams had been recently stocked and the fish were willing to eat girdle bugs, soft hackles, midges, parachute Adams, stimulators, etc.. TU members helped the less experienced, young scholars with casting instruction, fly selection and setting up their fly rods. Several members also served as guides. All of the students were able to catch and land trout. For many, it was their first fish on the fly and also their first trout! 

Saturday night, the Cohutta Chapter hosted the college students for a dinner of homemade lasagna that was slow cooked in cast Iron Dutch ovens by our chapter chefs, Nelson Withers and Jeff Wilson. Dinner was followed by live music around the roaring campfire and countles stories telling and retelling about the fish caught and memories made!  

We welcome new members. Find us here:


UO fans, go tangle with some topwater trout while streams are skinny and water temps exceed 50 degrees. Or have a tug-of-war with spots and stripers as lake surface temps cool and bring them back to the top. Stop in either shop for hot flies and even hotter intel to enjoy your own October Fishing Fest. Good luck!

PS: cruise through our Clarkesville store soon.  We’re complementing our flyfishing selection with some great new lines of conventional gear and baits for your reservoir fishing trips.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.