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 3, 2023

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 11/3/23

If you can find water, you can find trout, so take advantage of the last two long days before the time change.  Drought-trouting is in full swing. Long leaders and small bugs are working well on headwaters. Fresh Delayed Harvest stockers are eating everything in sight, at least for their first few days of freedom. Private waters fish are worth the stalk and the battle on light tippet.


Alas, shallow lake fishing has slowed, at least during the day. The nite  bite is better, and Henry is hopeful for improvements next week. We’ll keep this intro short because of the massive intel supplied by our guides and buddies this week. Enjoy the blog link.

And be careful with any open flames! Our region is high and dry and down about 7 inches of rain, with drought conditions getting worse. Protect our woods, waters, parks, and homesteads by waiting on any fires til we get a few good rains again.

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 click on our blog link 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, cream midge.

Nymphs & Wets: 

DH. Squirmy worm, Twister egg, mop fly, Duracell, girdle bug, sexy walts, Rainbow warrior, lightning bug, hot head pheasant tail.

Wild trout 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.


They are really skinny and it’s a chore to find fishable niches. But when you do, wild trout are hungry. If they’re not spooked, they’ll eat. Go long and light on leaders and stay small  (#16) on bugs.

UGA 5Rivers clubber Luke: “We had a great time at Saturday’s TU tree planting event on the Hooch at Hardman Farm.  We decided to head a little north to catch some wild trout after a great BBQ lunch to end the work project. 

The fish were real spooky with the low water, but most were willing to bite if you could sneak up on them. I caught several wild browns and some beautiful brookies with a size 16 elk hair caddis. The fish were a little more aggressive in the faster moving riffles and runs, but most of the bigger fish seemed uninterested in anything I threw at them.”

UO buddy Ron W: “The Mrs and I celebrated our 21st anniversary last weekend by venturing up into  the NC Backcountry.  She wanted to see a waterfall and I wanted to catch a brookie....a 4.5 mile hike uphill granted us both our wishes.  I fished one little spot at the base of the falls and landed 6 colored up brookies in about 20 minutes, all on a #18 hares ear dropper.  It would have been 7 but I relocated one to the water below me due to a bass hookset.  That was all the fishing I did, that was all the fishing I needed to do for the day. 

We had lunch and soaked up our environment for a while before making the hike back down the hill.  We stopped in town to replenish some lost calories and then made the near 3 hour drive back to Woodstock. 

I have been day dreaming since then about backpacking in there for a long weekend of chasing "Specks". I'm not sure I can wait till spring either! “

Delayed Harvest:

While no streams except the Hooch and Tuck tailwaters have much water, all region streams (GA, SC, NC) are now full of fish. And will be full of anglers, due to fresh stockers and nice weekend weather. My advice: go early, late, or best of all, on a weekday.  Hit prime weekends once the weather declines and fish IQ’s rise with experience.

I walked the Smith DH trail yesterday and spoke to a couple anglers. As expected with fresh fish, about anything tossed in the water worked. That will change soon after they’re released a few times. Right now, grab a kid or a rookie flyfisher, tie on a squirmy or bugger for them, and guide them to some quick success. You’ll hook a fishing buddy for a lifetime. Smith hint: if it’s crowded, outwalk them. You’ll find fish as far down as the third footbridge. As fish smarten, lighten your leader and shrink your bug. Smith regular JS had good luck yesterday sinking a griffiths gnat under his fluffy dry.

New daddy Landon: “I've been lied to. You can have newborns AND fish...  We had a nice, short trip to Smith DH yesterday afternoon and it was productive.”

New UO buddy JB from Bama: “Our U Bama 5Rivers Club members took the intel from UO staff and headed north last weekend.  Nantahala DH fished great while we were there. More quantity than quality fish, but that is nothing to complain about. We also fished another local river and caught 2 wild bows, which were a nice end to our trip. We fished dry/droppers the whole weekend and it seemed to be a mix of them hitting the dropper and hitting the dry. Very small pheasant tail nymphs and copper John’s seemed to work well as the dropper. White, green, & grey parachute adams and small brown/yellow stimulators seemed to do the trick on the dry. 

They were very picky as far as drift and presentation goes. I pulled a lot of them out of teeny tiny rock overhangs and holes with a near perfect cast and natural drift into the hole/overhang.“

My Rabunite clan had our monthly fishing outing to Nan DH on Tuesday. Folks had less luck early and better luck when the sun finally warmed up the gorge around lunchtime. Dry/droppers and Indi rigs worked early, while straight dries were fun when the BWO hatch took off at 2:30. Eggs, beaded hares ears, sexy Walts, and mops were good morning wets, while tiny BWO’s, para Adams, and small October caddis enticed afternoon risers, mainly little wild bows. Best fish was a 13 inch wild brown, maybe a Tailwater runner lookin’ for luv. The action quit when the sun set over the ridge at 4PM. Join us at Rabun TU (dot org) and join in Mike Fuller’s fun monthly excursions!

I saw a good 11/2 Facebook “catching” report for the Chattooga DH, too. It’s also suffering from the low streamflows across the region, so plan your game accordingly. See our recent social media posts for more intel on Georgia DH fishing, from maps to bugs to techniques.

Stocker Streams:

Folks coming into our shop are still reporting some decent days on area stocker streams.  September’s leftover browns are hanging on. The trick is to cover a lot of ground and fish the pockets, where these survivors have been overlooked by most fall anglers. Hit the bigger national forest streams on GAWRD’s master stocking list, since they receive more stockers and still have some water in them. Examples include Hooch on the WMA, Tallulah, West Fork Chattooga, Dicks, and Cooper.

UGA 5Rivers clubber Dan: “ We were happy to help with Saturday’s Hardman Trail tree buffer project. . I went fishing after lunch at Smith Creek below the lake, and had some good luck catching about 10 stocked browns. They were keen to eat a size 12 zebra midge that I had in red and silver. All the fish were about 12 inches in length. Excited for the start of DH!”

UO friend RSquared: “This week, the North Paulding High School Fly Fishing and ColdWater Conservation Club took their first fishing trip of the 2023/24 school year. After school was dismissed Monday, Students, parents and Cohutta Chapter Trout Unlimited volunteers walked two miles down the "Silver Comet Trail" to Raccoon Creek. Most students caught fish and for several,  it was their first trout and their first fish on a fly rod. These young anglers are the future of our sport! When you can, take a kid fishing!”


UO friend Skilz: “I hit the Hooch this past Monday for a few hours up until dark and found the fishing to be significantly slow - I felt lucky to pull out 7 or 8 fish with the water green and low! Used 5x and still managed to break one off - luckily that was the last rig tied for the day.  It was good to see a little brown in the mix as well.  Hope to get back out there soon and find that brown’s grandfather!”

Private Waters: 

UO manager Jake: “Rainbow Point on the Soque fished really well Wednesday afternoon for Rick and me, despite the cooler than normal temps. We brought about 20 to hand during our afternoon, but the highlight of the day was a really nice rainbow well over 20 inches. Most of our fish were caught running a double nymph setup, with action on small eggs and smaller midge and mayfly nymphs. With water flows way lower than normal, the keys to success right now seem to be longer casts, longer lighter leaders, and small, stealthy indicators that land lightly on the water. The weekend forecast looks great, so grab your rod and get out on the water. “

UO buddy CDB: “I don’t think I will ever see anything quite so beautiful as a leech”

Okay, that’s not really a quote. But leeches have been hot!  In GA DH waters as well as private waters size 10 and 12 black or dark olive leech patterns have been winners.  It will be hard not to shift over to the inevitable egg patterns as fresh fish go in the DH waters, but make sure you give that lead jig a try. You may fool some of those wary holdover fish, and drag a few real good ones out of the water!

Don’t forget those standbys- #18 and 20 flashback pheasant tails also produced well. If you are somewhere where you know there are fish, but you’re not getting any takes, start cycling methodically through those bugs. Sometimes a quick change to something “buggy” that the fish haven’t seen recently will trigger a bunch of eats, even if the bug isn’t coming off. As an example, late last week a size 16 green caddis with a black bead head worked well on a stream where green caddis are scarce. 

With low flows, takes can be very subtle, so stay focused and hookset on any change in direction or speed of your indicator. Good luck in this low water.”

UO guide Israel: “My Nacoochee Bend guest did well on a size 20 Griffith gnat and a flashback pheasant tail. Long, light line and small flies worked best in our very low Hooch flows. Water temperatures are great , however, and fish will eat if they’re not spooked by wading wakes, heavy tippet, and big flies.”

Warmwater Streams:

RSquared: “Sunday, before the cold front blew in, I took what is most likely my final Redeye Bass trip of 2023. I fished a favorite creek in Floyd County. The water was very low and a little tannic colored from all of the falling leaves. However, this did not hinder the scrappy creek bass. While they were reluctant to take my top-water offerings, they readily attacked small streamers stripped across the current. Praying for rain all across North Ga. to recharge our aquifer and raise our river levels!”


Hank: “Fishing still remains slow on the pond. Lake stratification is the likely cause. I've been rescheduling all my trips til I get on a consistent bite again. For Lanier anglers, your best shot is to hit a dock light at night or toss sandy banks after dark, as the bomber bite is supposedly really strong right now. If you simply must fish during daylight hours, put away the 8 and 9 wt rods and go trout fishing. With delayed harvest open and all the private waters available at Unicoi Outfitters you can surely have a good outing. Stripers should rebound by next week on the upcoming new moon...”



Congrats to UO buddy Lumis, who just knocked a steelhead off his bucket list. He found this trophy in a Lake Erie trib in western NY.

Fish long and light in skinny trout waters while you join us in our collective prayer for rain. In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful fall weather at hand. Stop in either UO shop for fresh, light tippet, squirmies for stockers, and tiny dries for colorful wild trout. And for any bassmasters, check out our new selection of reservoir baits at our Clarkesville store in the square. It will be like a belated Halloween candy stop! Good luck this week, fellow fly flingers and baitcasters.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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