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, November 10, 2023

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 11/10/23


First, thanks to all of our military veterans for your service to our country. We honor your commitment to this fine nation and hope the anglers among you are rewarded with trophy fish this weekend. Happy Veterans Day!

We have high hopes for some rain this weekend that may knock down the wildfire smoke and bump up streamflows. Keep your fingers crossed. Wild, stocked, and DH trout all bit well last week, even on top during warmer days. But be prepared to dredge for them as our weather changes and stream temps finally drop.

River and pond bass still showed some activity in the warmer weather. Get them before those waters cool off, too.

Henry said Lanier is back on! He even called me at 1PM today to confirm that fact after a great morning striper trip.

Find all of the trip details in our blog. Folks who click on that blog link will catch our hot UO intel and boost their catch rates. Good luck this week!


 (Link in bio)

Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

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

Nymphs & Wets: 

DH. Twister egg, mop fly, zebra midge, mighty may, soft hackle, hares ear, tiny pheasant tails.

Wild waters. Pheasant tail, soft hackles, Ruby midge, RS2, split case BWO, 

Streamers & warm water:

(Trout) sparkle minnow, rubber bugger, (bass & stripers) clouser minnow, finesse changer.


Flows are still extremely low, but we’re hoping that the rains forecast for the coming days will bump up them up.  Right now trout streams are still fishing great for wily anglers with stealth, long leaders, and perfect drifts through any deeper pockets they can find. Watch water temps and expect the topwater bite to slacken when they drop below 50F. Then it’s dropper time on bluelines.


“SmithSquared” prospected one of Georgia’s high, headwater streams and the duo finally found the jewels they had long sought.

Van said: “Small chubbies and orange stimulators were very productive. Dry flies and small woolly buggers were the only flies that were working very well. Our search efforts this fall sure paid off with these pretty native specks.”

Where? Well, I don’t believe he said.

But if you’re a UGA student, it might be worth your while to join their UGA Five Rivers Flyfishing Club.


Athens Jay: “Yesterday I ventured  across the border to fish a wild section of NC trout water. Extremely low and clear conditions meant fish were confined to small, deeper pockets. A 7.5 ft, 6X leader and lots of roll casting to stay out of the trees put me on residents: many wild rainbows that were eager to eat a fry fly. I fished a size 14 October Caddis all day. I also found a couple of far-traveling brookies as well. Lots of eats made for a fun day!  Thank you to my guide,” Harold Hogan of Chattahoochee/Nantahala Trout Unlimited for your gracious hospitality!”

Ed note: Harold’s TU gang welcomes new members. Check it out here:


Dredger ran up to the Smokies last Tuesday, before the smoke got bad, and had a steady pick on a sexy Walts anchor fly and tiny France fly dropper. It was mainly small rainbows, with bonus fish of a small wild brown, a feisty 9-inch wild bow (jumped twice), and a hefty stocker upstream migrant from reservation waters. Some heartbreak happened when an 18-inch bow ran downstream after being hooked, and snapped his 6X tippet in its dash through rocks and branches. Abundant wildlife on the exit drive was nice salve in his wounds.

Delayed Harvest: As expected with fresh stockers, action on GA DH streams has been steady. Due to low water and heavy angling pressure, fish are smartening up rapidly. Long, light lines and smaller flies will now produce better than dragged squirmies and stripped woolly buggers. NCDH fish are more experienced and even pickier, demanding good drifts . Expect fish to hunker down as water temps drop with the cooler weather ahead, so dust off your winter game for the weeks ahead.

Before the smoke got bad last Friday, Dredger hit Nan DH. It was a chilly 45F at 2PM, so he went deep with a Euro rig and had a steady pick all afternoon on mops, sexy Walts, and ptails. It was mainly stockers, with a few wild bows mixed in. Few bugs and fewer risers were seen on the colder river. He ran into longtime GA friend Mitch, who did well on a hares ear/perdigon combo fished under an Airlock indi.

Tuesday found Dredger bank-fishing Smith DH for two evening hours as he experimented with George Daniels “micro leader” Euro setup (4X “line and leader” to 6X tippet and fly) The stockers stacked up in a long, slow pool succumbed to #18 unweighted nymphs on a long 6X tippet that sank very slowly.  Changing patterns after a fish or two resulted in the next fish, and so on.

Thursday found Dredger in search of clean air and easy wading. He found it on the Toccoa DH, which only allows for decent wading during dry years. Water temp 58F at 2PM. Folks were already fishing the top and bottom ends, so he picked the middle, and found a small handful of rainbows willing to eat his mops, sexy Walts, and eggs. More fish will populate that reach when a good rain flushes them down from the canoe launch. The natives loved the mop, too, with a bream and a dozen “trophy” river chubs adding to Chub King’s catch. Give the Toccoa a try before its flows jump over 400 cfs and prevent most wading.

Stocker Streams:

There’s still a good number of fish left in the bigger streams for those of you willing to hunt them down. Rabunites Nanette and Rick had another fine outing to their favorite county stream. Using the UO intel, they tossed dry/dropper combos in the late afternoon warm. A yellow stimmy dry and small pheasant tail dropper, two feet below it, was the best fly combo. They landed a bunch of nice Sept stocker browns and several small wild rainbows on a warm, gorgeous fall day in the forest.

Tailwaters: No reports.

Private Waters: 

UO-Helen manager Wes: “I fished with John and Luke on Private water yesterday morning. The fish were very competitive despite the low flows. Longer leaders and a good drift were key. Egg patterns, soft hackles, and RS2s were the most effective patterns on these hard-fighting bows.”

UO guide Caleb: “I fished Rainbow Point on the Soque last weekend and my client was able to land trout using various methods. A sparkle minnow jigged upstream brought a few fish to hand, but nymphing was still the key to success. A yellow egg fly paired with a zebra midge was the ticket, though we were able to land this pretty brown on a size 20 BWO. “

To book a UO trip or order a trip gift certificate, check them out here:



and give us a call at 706-878-3083.

Warmwater Streams: Jimmy’s still harassing local river Shoal Bass, though not on the fly. Slow and deep with a jig has produced best for him in the clear and slowly cooling waters.

Small Lakes:

UO family member Crosby Bowen has been working on his neighborhood lake with a white spinnerbait. And doing rather well, wouldn’t you agree? Congrats Crosby!


Slowly dropping water temps have reservoir prey and predators more active.

Hank: “Stripers on Lanier have awakened! The fishing is not “on” every day BUT there is a feed occurring most days. You might see a single or two on top or a school of 30 tearing up the surface. Fish are eating the small threadfin patterns like somethin else, mini game changers  or small polar fiber minnows. Fish are spread out all over the lake, but the south end seems to be strongest.  We’re seeing a few bass schooling but they aren't a consistent option right now. It's feast or famine with our striped zebras. Water temp is down to 65-66 lakewide and the lake level is approaching 8' below full pool, so be careful navigating the shallows.  Fishing will only get better this month.”

Addendum: I just got off the phone with Henry at 1PM.  He said the fish went nuts today in the overcast , drizzly skies. Multiple large groups of stripers were hunted across the lake. They’re on small (2-inch) shad, so Henry said make sure you match the hatch.



UO’s own Jake and Lee enjoyed their recent road trip over to Pickwick Lake in Bama. Fishing with top-shelf local guide Steve Hacker, they landed and released this boatload of trophy smallies. Make some memories with Steve yourselves here:


UO staffer Joseph check in: “Fishing has been good this week on the forgotten coast. I was able to pole my guide buddies from Alaska to their first redfish on the fly and even managed one myself. We have covered a ton of water and polled many flats but we are catching fish. We’ve fished everything from sandy reefs to oyster bars and marsh. All fish we have caught have been sight-fished on merkin-style crab patterns in tan and “blurple”.”

That’s the latest from UO. Grab some warmer clothes, a rain jacket, and that nymph box before you come trouting.  Check wind direction if you’re averse to smoke. Don’t forget threadfin flies if you’re gonna chase stripers and spots.   And for any bassmasters, check out our new selection of reservoir baits at our Clarkesville store in the square. Good luck and thanks again, Vets!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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