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, December 8, 2023

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 12/8/23

Area streams are very low and clear once again, so folks should return to your drought-trouting game. Hopefully this weekend’s expected rain will help the flows a bit.  We need weekly storms to restore our normal flows.

In the meantime, stealth and light lines are once again your keys to trouting success. Delayed Harvest stockers have seen a lot of anglers and flies. Be ready to switch patterns to those they might not have seen yet. The water is colder due to chilly nights, so many of your trout takes will be very subtle. Be ready to set the hook on any hesitation of your strike indicators.

Lake stripers are providing some very good action. Hank and Jimmy provide some timely reports.

Don’t forget the Oconee River TU online auction and Saturday banquet. That’s always a good time  time in Athens.  More here: 


The latest trip reports and Wes’ hot fly list are in our weekly blog.  Folks who dig into that intel will catch more fish. Good luck this week! Stop in either or both UO stores for your own resupply and for holiday gifts for friends and family.


Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries:  Elk hair caddis, parachute Adams, BWO, cream midge, Griffith’s gnat.

Nymphs & Wets: 

WD-40, Twister egg, Edwards stonefly (black), Ruby Midge, split case BWO, Duracell.

Streamers & warm water:

(Trout) wooly bugger, muddy buddy, (bass & stripers) clouser minnow, Cowen’s somethin else, finesse changer.


Last week’s rains have run off and most of our streams have returned to drought levels. The water is low, clear, and cold. Fish are a bit lethargic, but will still spook easily if they spot you first. Stick with your summer dry/dropper technique and aim for warmer afternoons when the sunshine boosts stream temperatures.


Delayed Harvest:

Rabunites Rick and Nan visited Smith Creek on a cold, windy day this week, finding trout mostly hunkered at the bottom and uncooperative, likely wondering what happened to the toasty 50+-degree waters they had been enjoying. They did entice a few to bite on dry-dropper combos, with unweighted pheasant tail nymphs and a small peach egg being the preferred snacks. Dredger provided technical support and advice when he encountered the Rabunites on his therapy walk, and the day ended on a high note when Rick got an eat on top on a #14 orange stimulator.

UO buddy Ski hit Smith DH yesterday afternoon. He caught a nice handful of fish first on a dry/dropper combo.  The stimmy dry served simply as a strike indicator for the #18 black pheasant tail and zebra midge that connected to fish. He also landed a few bows in a faster pool on a Euro rig with a Frenchie on the business end of 6X. The evening was topped off with an eagle sighting. Water temp was 48F.

Dredger hit Nantahala DH last Monday afternoon. It was cool and cloudy most of the time and the water stayed at 44F all afternoon.  There were fewer fish in shallow pockets and runs, likely due to a recent high water event (evidenced by leaves scoured off the stream banks).

He did pretty well on a small frenchie through most pools and a mop in the biggest, deepest pools. It was a bunch of bows (mostly stockers) and one stray brookie and brown to hand. Fish were a bit lethargic during the battle and cold to the touch at unhooking. It’s definitely time for winter techniques for your highest catch rates. He did see a few stray risers, but not enough to get him to switch his rig.

GA Foothills TU’er Lamar posted a nice Facebook report on Chattooga DH. The water is still low over there, so stick with long leaders, soft-landing indicators, lighter tippet, and smaller nymphs. Try the traditional egg or squirmy first, but be ready to quickly switch to some pheasant tails, little black stones, and zebra midges for the now-educated residents.

Private Waters: 

UO guide Joseph: “I had a great day with Micah on Sunday. With the momentary higher water the fish were very active and feeding readily. We caught almost all of our fish on streamers . Stripping and swinging sparkle minnows seemed to work best with the higher and slightly off colored water.”

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:

UO buddy Matt: “Went bass fishing on the middle Oconee last week and caught two good spots. Was using  a woolly bugger and an articulated flash minnow pattern. Water was cold and clear but flows were a little higher than they have been in past weeks. The key was finding slower water and using slower, deeper twitches. Bass are still biting even with this cold weather!”


Hank: “Cold weather has finally set up in No GA and our winter bite is here for the foreseeable future. This is great for striper fishing. There are fish spread out all over the lake but the largest size fish seem to be further south than north. With the new moon upon us the fishing should be good the next week. Birds and loons will help you find the fish and it pays to carry both a slow sinking intermediate line along with a fast sinking line. Small flies are the ticket with a somethin' else still being your best bet. Tiny polar fiber minnows are also working well. PM seems a little stronger than AM right now. We've still got a small handful of open days in January and are starting to book Feb and March


Jimmy had the pleasure of putting his friends Henry Cowen and Devin Lancaster on a nice Lake Lanier striper double. It’s that time of the year when you’re looking for bird activity and throwing small flies like Cowen’s Somethin’ Else. 

Good luck this week as you dodge some welcome rains and aim for the higher, stained water, especially on warmer afternoons. Stop in either UO shop for hot seasonal flies, supplies, and holiday gifts.  We’ll be glad to help.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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