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, October 12, 2023

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 10/13/23


Thanks to cooling water temperatures, everything is now fishing pretty darn well! Headwaters remain very thin, but residents are eating well when they’re not spooked. Private water and NC DH trout are also hungry, but low flows are demanding some finesse techniques. River and lake stripers have awakened, too, while CDB has again treated us to some fine western salmonids. Catch the pic-heavy report at:



Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries:  Elk hair caddis, orange stimulator, micro chubby (great for dry-dropping on bigger water)

Nymphs & Wets: Plus one, Duracell, CJ controller, Ruby midge, zebra midge, micro mayfly.

Streamers & warmwater:

Sparkle minnow, jiggy fat minnow, clouser minnow, finesse changer.


They remain super-skinny and their residents are spooky. But they’re hungry due to the colder water. If you sneak up on them in their drought refuges (pools and deep riffles), they’ll hammer your dries.

Dredger hit his favorite White County blueline for two hours on Thursday afternoon (12th) He got a nice handful of little wild bows, first on a #18 tan deer hair caddis on 5X while the sun was up, and then on a #16 tan caddis (that he could see) as the sun set. Water temp was a cool 60F at 6PM.

Delayed Harvest:

The NC streams are fishing well, despite the low water. UO buddy RonW: “I ventured across the state line on Saturday (10/7) to sample one of my favorite NC DH streams.  I left Woodstock at 5:15 am and was in the lower parking area about 2 hours later.  I worked my way up the trail about a 1/2 mile before I made a cast. I started with a dry dropper setup,  which proved to be a good starting point. I had a brookie on the line within a half dozen drifts, and then a wild rainbow on the dry a few minutes later.  I stayed with a dry dropper all day, picking a dozen and a half brookies, a few browns and a couple more wild rainbows, all on the dropper.

Shortly after noon I started working my way back down.  I ended the day fishing a favorite deep hole/run of mine. I talked to a guy who was just walking out as I was walking in. He said he'd been in that one spot for a couple hours and threw everything at them but couldn't get any of them to  eat. In this run there was a huge pod of about 50 fish, with a big bruiser bow 22"+  swimming around bullying every Snit in sight. 

I tried a few flies but couldn't get any of them to eat. I changed it up to a double streamer rig, with a bugger up front and a slumpbuster in tow. 1 cast was all it took.  Brownie chases it about 10' before he smashed the slumpbuster.  I had a nice little feeding frenzy after that, landing another 7 or 8 fish in just as many casts.  I even had the big boy follow it s few times but he never committed. 

The bite slowed down and I realized I was  overstaying my welcome.  I worked my way back to the truck around 2pm and was back home shortly after 4pm, just in time for some Saturday sports. 

It was another fantastic day on the water for some much needed hydrotherapy! “

UO buddy Lumis also cashed in on two NC trips:

“I've come to the conclusion that the hares ear is actually a great fly. Can't believe I haven't used one in years.  Went to a small

creek DH today. Trout were found in all the usual easy access stocking spots. 

Once again, picky stockers that didn't want typical stocker flies. So the hares ear caught like 80% of my fish today.

18 to net. About a third of those were wild rainbows. Missed the hook set on probably dozens of fish today. Hooks slipped out of their mouths every time I was trying to set it. This doesn't usually happen but still, skill issue. Or lack of sleep.

Then I proceeded to slip into the water, bang up my knee, and get soaked. So I had to call it a day. I think I need to replace the felt.”

Trip 2:  “Nantahala DH: About as perfect as it gets.  Weather in the morning was in the 30's but I came prepared so it wasn't a bother. Fish didn't seem to care either.

Started the day off with a hares ear and apricot egg but they wanted the egg and none of the hares ear. After a little bit of experimenting, the fly of the day along with the egg was a bead head pheasant tail. Once again, a fly that I rarely use but man did the trout eat it up. Once I had my recipe for success, I had to change nothing but the depth of my indicator for the rest of the day. All the big popular pools were overfished and the trout were hard to entice, so I fished mostly shallower pocket water, and the little pools between. Plenty of fish to be found as long as I was covering plenty of water.

30 to net. Maybe another dozen lost during the fight. The fishing was exceptional, which is probably not surprising a week after stocking. Will definitely be visiting again.”

Stocker Streams:

Pickings are getting slim after the late September stockings. Cover a lot of ground to pick off the leftovers, which are mainly browns.



UO buddy Landon: “Mother in law is off work this week and I snuck out for a 2 hour jaunt while she watched kids. Slow on hooch, but I did catch this one nice brown. Caught my fish on a midge, drifted in the slow bubble line.”

Private Waters: 

UO manager Jake: “Private streams fished really well for my clients this week, due to the drop in water temps. The flows are remaining low, and a stealthy approach has been the best option. This week we caught most of our fish on a dry/dropper with the hot fly being a Ruby Midge. The weather is nice this weekend, get out and enjoy some time on the water. “

UO Helen manager Wes: “Private waters are fishing pretty good with the cooling water. The name of the game right now is be stealthy. Low flows leave the fish only a few select areas to hold. A slightly longer leader with a dry dropper or a small indicator will up your odds of not spooking fish.Hotspot pheasant tails, midges, and rainbow warriors produced well for me.”

UO Guide Israel: “Nacoochee Bend has been fishing okay. With the low water, stealth and a longer cast are key. I’m running a hopper/dropper due to super-low water. Try running a chubby up and your preferred nymph below it.  If you have stealth, you’ll do fine.”

UO guide Caleb: Rainbow Point on the Soque fished extremely well this past weekend. The cooler water temps had the fish looking to eat. Hot flies were a small caddis pattern and a mop fly. We landed lots of fish, including Bobby’s first trout on the fly.”

Warmwater Streams: 

Athens Jay: “Piedmont rivers have been low and clear, making wading lots of fun. You never know what you might find in a river this time of year. I was throwing big articulated streamers to match the shad hatch and this beast took me for quite a ride. I was using an intermediate line with a short (3ft) piece of straight 30lb fluorocarbon as a leader. Throw upstream and across in strong flow, let the fly sink on the drift, then strip to swim the fly as it gets downstream of you. Hold on tight, you just might see your backing!”

Small Lakes: 

UO guide Caleb: “The bluegill bite is still holding on! I was able to sneak away to a local pond on my off day and catch a dozen or so fish on a dark amnesia bug. “


Hank: “Fall fishing on Lanier finally kicked off this week due to cooling temps and the new moon upon us. Fish were actively feeding. Some schooling was seen and the fish are feeding on both herring and threadfin shad. It just depends where you fish to see the difference in how the stripers and bass are feeding on the different forage. Fish will take both flies and lures aggressively so getting out there and hunting is the key. We are just starting to see fish moving into some of the coves while some schools are out over open water. Fish are all big with plenty of 10-15lb fish being caught. Fish can be found over open water in 100' as well as being on humps and points too. You just have to burn gas and look.”



UO buddy CDB finally came home: “Been out fishing tailwaters in Oregon and Idaho. Dry fly fishing was better than expected with size 20 BWO duns an spinners producing nice browns. 

 Rainbows flipped the script with light color streamers and big ( size 4 and size 6) rubber legs bringing in chonk wild ‘bows and bull trout. 

Ready to get after them back east!  And a shower. A shower would be good…”

Good luck. Go get ‘em as the cool fall water temps have fired up the bite.

PS: cruise through our Clarkesville store soon. Like y’all, we love to fish- for everything. So we’re complementing our flyfishing selection with some great new lines of conventional gear and baits.  

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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