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, March 15, 2024

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report 3/15/24

Here’s a quick report after working our Helen shop today and slipping out at 5pm to check streamflows. Headwaters are clear and flowing well. Larger streams are a bit high and only slightly stained. The Hooch in Helen was high and slightly stained. 

All those streams should clear overnight, with most dropping to safe wading levels by lunchtime tomorrow.  The exceptions are the bigger watersheds (Chattooga , Toccoa), which may need an extra day or two to pass their stormflows. Check those USGS stream gauges before you go.


The GAWRD trout trucks started rolling this week and a nice list of restocked streams was published today.

UO young gun Joseph said Lanier striper action is improving, while our pond reporters are cleaning up on crappie and bass in the shallows. Go soon, before this cold snap hits us early next week and slows the shallow water bite for a few days. Check out the trip details from our guides and friends and Wes’ hot fly list here:


 (Link in bio)

We’ve restocked our Helen bins and shelves for the spring trouter rush. Stop in for anything you need, from intel to Powerbait to hot dries for some topwater fun. Good luck!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries:  Rage Cage Caddis, parachute Adams, Drymerger BWO, Griffith’s gnat, yellow stimulator or small micro Chubby Chernobyl as a headwater dry for your droppers.

Nymphs & Wets: 

Girdle bug, squirminator, jig cdc pheasant tail, fast water prince, depth charge caddis, oil slick perdigon, soft hackle partridge, trip saver.

Streamers & warm water:

(Trout) Squirrely bugger, sparkle yummy, muddy buddy, bank robber sculpin. (bass & stripers) clouser minnow, finesse changer, Cowen’s coyote, polar changer, crittermite, jiggy craw. 


They’re clear and flowing well. Toss dries on warm afternoons.

UO buddy “Coop:”  “Dry/droppers were a blast Thursday on some national forest headwaters north of Dahlonega. ! My buddy and I caught around 15-20 trout each. Wild rainbows were rising for size 14 parachute Adams and quill gordons.  Hares ear and pheasant tail nymph droppers caught plenty of fish (just make sure you have enough weight to get down to the bottom of the faster and deeper pools). Try 4x tippet to your dry fly and attach 5x for the nymphs. Also, don't forget to swing your flies and the end of their drift.   We caught  a quarter of our fish on the swing. “

UO friend “Cat:”  I hiked out to a remote creek in Murray County on Tuesday for some wild rainbows. After all the rain, what was dry and unfishable in the fall is at perfect flows now. The fish were not in the riffles yet, but they were hungrily taking tight-lined walt's worms in 2-3 feet deep runs and pockets. It is time to break out sunscreen and a hoodie, as the leaves aren't on the trees yet, so even in the mountains, it is sunny.”

Delayed Harvest: 

March stockers have been in residence for several weeks and are now smartening up. Try some hatch-matching dries and nymphs instead of eggs and squirmies, unless the water is stained.

Rabunite “JK” stopped in our Helen shop this afternoon and shared a Chattooga DH report from two days ago.  He had a great day on both dries and wets. Midge hatches were plentiful.  He said the risers hit size 16 parachute Adams and midges, while deeper fish took his pheasant tail nymphs and soft hackles.

UO friend UGA Jon: “I took a day off work this week and fished fires and the nanty.   I landed  a decent amount of wild trout on a #14 black caddis dry and a few fish on a small perdigon dropper.

Last weekend  I fished the Cherokee area, the Nanty, and the Davidson.  I got a few euro nymphing the tribal water but the water was raging. I caught my Nanty fish on dries, nymphs, and streamers while battling through some rain. The Davidson’s  water was up but I had early success on a dredged pats rubber legs. I switched up later to a dry/dropper combos and got the rest on a Walt’s worm dropper.”

UO buddy Hillis:

“Yesterday a couple fishing buddies and I fished one of our favorite DH streams across the border in NC. It was a beautiful day, water was high and fast but wadable and fishable. We arrived around 9:30, which was a little late for us. We expected  to see other anglers already on the stream but there was no one there.  For the first hour or so we were the only people on the stream. 

Unfortunately the fishing was slow, that is until one of my fishing buddies decided to try one last hole on our way out. That was a wise decision. On his first cast he landed a fish. He said at first he thought he was caught on a rock, but to his surprise it was a fish. He proceeded to catch several more in that hole, going from skunked for the day to a decent day, relatively speaking.  

Also attached is a pic of the one fish I caught. I was stripping a weighted white wooly trailed by a nymph. Had a couple of LDR’s (unintentional) and several that came unbuttoned rather quickly.”

Stocked Waters:

Check out today’s fresh list of WRD-stocked waters.

Rabunite “Flipper:”.  We had a very good day on our local stocked stream.  My son Kenny and I both landed at least 20, with most falling for woolly buggers.”

Private Waters: 

UO company manager Jake: “The fishing at Nacoochee Bend has been really good this week with the increase in flows. Bob and Hank had a great afternoon drifting nymphs deep along the bottom, with the action being consistent throughout the entire afternoon. Hot flies were black stoneflies, small eggs, Duracells, Pink Rainbow Warriors, and Ruby midges. If you are faced with heavier flows, the most important thing is to get your flies down to the fish. Don't be afraid to move your indicator higher up your leader and throw on additional weight to get you down to the bottom - where the fish are resting out of the current.”

UO guide Como said his clients have had great days at Nacoochee Bend.  His best combo has been an olive jig streamer, dead drifted, with his own secret recipe, the Cajun Special, dropped behind it.”

UO Helen manager Wes: “Private streams  fished well this week in the higher flows If you were able to add enough weight to your rig. With the rivers running high we did best on Tungsten beaded flies with a bb split shot added to the leader to get down in the fast current. Tungsten conehead streamers worked well in the swift and shallow runs in between deeper pools.”

UO guide Caleb: “Soque Camp fished very well on Monday afternoon. Once again, nymph rigs were slow but a switch to a streamer was the key to success. Short, fast retrieves caused the most successful action. We did see a variety of mayflies that made us think that spring is here! March browns and sulphurs were poking their heads out and giving us hope for the weeks ahead.”


No recent reports.

Warm Rivers:

The walleye run should soon be winding down. Whites and hybrids will soon follow.


Small Lakes:

UO buddy RSquared: “Monday, my son Matt & I fished a local private lake. I was casting my fly rod while he was Spinnin & Sinnin! I was using my only white "Game-Changer" with good success when a large bass took the articulated fly. I set the hook and she took off toward the bank. The Hawg took the line under a submerged tree and broke me off at the triple surgeon's knot. I switched to Henry Cowans much smaller "Something Else" and finished the evening catching crappie.”


UO guide Joseph: “Striper fishing on the lake is really starting to fire up! This guy ate a clouser 10ft off the side of the boat while I was blind casting on a point. Water temps are now approaching 60 degrees and we should be expecting the fish to start heading north for their annual spawning run sometime soon. Fishing should only get better from here on out!”

UO guide Devin said the Allatoona white bass run up the river hasn’t started yet.


UO buddy Bert Deener:  “Bass and crappie have been on fire the last few weeks. Tommy Davis (right) and Bert Deener caught and released 15 crappie over 1 1/4-pounds after fooling them by trolling 2-inch Keitech swimbaits in a Waycross area pond last week. Their biggest 5 crappie weighed a hair under 9 pounds.”

That’s the latest from our Helen region. It seems like White and Habersham county streams dodged most of the heavy rains and should fish well tomorrow. Other areas had a bit more rain, so check river gauges before you go, or get on Lanier and chase some ten-pound stripers.  Stop in either UO shop if we can help you out. Good luck!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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