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 29, 2024

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 3/29/24

Come on up, the weather and water are fine!  We also expect heavy trout stockings by GAWRD and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to kick off the traditional start of Georgia’s trout “season.” Afternoon water temps are in the mid-fifties and some early season bug hatches should take off this week. Fly anglers should grab their dries and droppers, while bait and lure anglers should load up their favorite offerings and take their kids to stocked waters.

Reminder: the Hooch in Helen will be packed this weekend because of the city’s trout tournament. Either join in the carnival or avoid it.


Lake predators are on the move. Jake had a great day bassin’ a GA Power reservoir, while our Lanier fans are scoring some hefty stripers and spots.

Check out the hot intel from our guides and friends and Wes’ hot fly list here:


 (Link in bio)

It doesn’t get much better than this.  We hope you have a chance to wet a line during our beautiful Easter weekend.

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: 

American nymph molted brown, soft hackle partridge, holy grail, girdle bug, red tag jig, mop fly.

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 are clear, cool, and flowing well. At 5PM yesterday Spoilcane ran 56F and Smith DH was 55 degrees. Blueline residents should be looking up for your fluffy dries when the water warms after the sun shines on it.


UO buddy Athens Jay: “After enjoying the great food, music and fellowship at the Hoot on the Hooch Saturday, I made a quick trip late Sunday afternoon. The weather was perfect and I was eager to see if I could get a wild trout to eat a dry fly. Thanks to great information from the good folks at Unicoi Outfitters, I was able to find some wild rainbows willing to eat. I used just one fly (#16 Elk hair Caddis in brown). No false-casting- just bow-and-arrow and water hauling. It sure is fun to fish dry flies once again!”

UGA Five Rivers Clubber Matt: Had a blast talking with y’ll last Saturday night at the Hoot on the Hooch. We hit a high mountain stream before the event.The specks were hungry and looking up! They are still warming up from the cold weather but they can feel those warm afternoon rays and are biting. Caught most of them on a grey Adams parachute size 12. Did manage to get a few bites on a #14 elk hair caddis . Overall a good day, with some cahills flying and lots of life buzzing around. Spring is starting to really set in and I'd recommend getting on the water soon to take advantage of it.

For warm water fishers, spring is also rolling in. A brown/black wooly bugger and a medium sized craw pattern worked best for me on the Oconee recently. The bass are getting hungry, too!

It's the best time of year to be fishing, so get out and get some flies wet! Tight lines y'all!”

Delayed Harvest: 

Nearly all streams are looking prime. The Toccoa is still too high for safe wading, so consider a float tube or yak. Everything else is very wadeable and warming into the fifties, turning on the bugs and fish. Resident fish have smartened up since their early March release, so try smaller, naturally colored nymphs either dredged deep on cool mornings or dropper under a dry after lunch.  Carry your dry fly boxes and match the mayfly and caddis hatches on warm afternoons!


I expect some April restockings soon, so be ready with junk flies and streamers for fresh, naive GA and NC DH fish.


Where? Scroll down to Opportunities “ and then click on the Georgia DH stream names (blue font) in here for stream maps:


Go on a similar web hunt for NC streams here:


UO buddy CDB: “ I hit a north Georgia DH stream this week. Water levels were great, and very clear. Still plenty of fish around, with occasional risers. Very small midge patterns (18-20), a black tiny tailwater, 

or Higa SOS patterns worked best with a drag-free drift. 


Fish are active in the warmer water. When using a double nymph set up, try keeping your top nymph about 24 inches above the bottom nymph, and fish an unweighted top nymph. The RS2 and WD-40 patterns did pretty well for me as the top fly. Some fish could still be had on an egg pattern, but it’s not nearly as productive as more natural patterns.

This was Kaitlyn‘s first time using a fly rod. She worked hard to earn that fish. We released Jeffery (yes she named it!) and he swam off to fight another day. Hopefully another fly fishing bum was born! 

Signs of spring are popping up everywhere, get out there and enjoy it!”

Rabunite Bluejay said he had a productive trip to Nantahala DH last Sunday after church, with a dozen bows and browns landed on small, dark, dredged nymphs.

Rabunite Nanette checked in: Fished Nan DH Monday.  Practiced the short casts in pocket water using dry-droppers. Fished three spots, caught three stockers and three wilds, all on a pheasant tail nymph below that big, fluffy dry. Two of the stockers were very nice fish.

Rick caught a couple too on a Frenchie.  Water temp 48. Chilly and cloudy. Saw a few caddis and a mayfly. Had a couple of trout come after the dry but no hooksets.”

Stocked Waters:

I expect the longest list of the year to show up around 4PM today. Nearly all trout waters on GAWRD’s 2024 master stocking list should get some fish to kick off stocking season.


For kids, just add a doughball  of Powerbait or one-third of a nightcrawler on a size 10 baitholder hook. Add a size B split shot a foot above the hook. Toss it upstream and left it drift along the bottom back to you. Count to 5 after the first tap-tap and set the hook.

Flyrodders can toss bright junk flies (eggs and squirmies) and drift then back. Or toss some small woolly buggers 3/4 downstream and work them back with a a twitch and short strip technique. Twitch pre than strip, and add a split shot or two a foot above the streamer to work it deeper.

UO buddy RSquared: “Many of our NW Georgia streams received fresh trout this week. For now, they are hungry and dumb. Almost any fly bait, or lure will work on them. The traditional stocking season has begun and trout streams all across North Georgia will have fish! “

Private Waters: 

The UO buddy trio of Sylvia, Ian, and Becca hit Nacoochee Bend on the Hooch in Helen last Sunday afternoon. They had a big time, with several dozen bows coming to hand. Sylvia said: “Lots of fish! They were taking pats rubber legs, stone flies, and small bright streamers. Definitely had to go deep, lost lots of flies, but the fishing was great!”

UO guide Caleb: Rainbow Point on the Soque fished very well last weekend using a variety of techniques. Olive sparkle minnows pulled in front of waiting trout brought several to hand. But the cool morning made “dredging” the more effective method. A large stonefly trailed by a small bead head pheasant tail was the way to go.”


UO buddy Ryan: “I hit the Hooch  last week for a quick 1.5 hour session.  Despite fishing water that had been pressured all day, we managed several fish apiece.  They were visibly keyed in on midges so we just caught the ones dumb enough to eat a sz 16 or so nymph.”


New UO contributor AJ: “Not a lot has changed on the big pond in the past week. Water temps are still bumping 60 degrees, but cool nights and cool rains are keeping us in the mid-upper 50s. I fished Thursday afternoon and found actively feeding stripers in the back of a creek most of the afternoon. Friday AM, I took Bob and Nathan from Auburn Project Healing Waters and it was a different story. We only found fish feeding on top for a few minutes, but we managed to get Bob his 1st fly-caught striper before they went down. Fished Tuesday afternoon in the rain, and again, had happy splashing fish halfway back in a creek. Clouser Minnows are still working for me, but it’s getting closer to Game Changer time. Gulls are still around, so let them help you while they're still here. The next 4-6 weeks should be prime on the lake. Give me a shout if you're interested in getting out there!”

-Alex Jaume

Lanier on the Fly


UO owner Jimmy’s grandson, Crosby, had a memorable Lanier striper trip yesterday. Jimmy said: “We had a great time with guide Alex Vasquez.  We were trolling deep and shallow with Shad and bluebacks. Fish came on shallow lines. Crosby’s biggest if the day pulled the Boga grip down to 14 pounds. The event was a fundraiser for Anvil Academy where Crosby goes to school.”

Jake had a good day on a GA Power mountain reservoir. He started out deep during the cold morning and caught suspended fish over open water.  As the water temp increased during the day, he found prespawn fish under docks. The dock fish succumbed to a variety of baits: wacky rigged worm, a skipped jig, and a swimbait when the wind blew.  He said they’re still several weeks away from bedding. Stop by our Clarkesville shop for more lake intel and hot baits.


UO guide Como took a road trip back to the Louisiana gulf and scored some nice bull reds on cut mullet with his dad and brother.

Just like the famous Homer Easter egg hunt, abundant goodies are right there in front of you. Just get out there and grab a few favorites. Good luck.

PS: UO will be closed Sunday for our staff to celebrate faith and family. We wish all blessings for you, as well. Happy Easter, everyone!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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