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, May 24, 2024

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 5/24/24

 


Welcome to the UO holiday fishing report. This week’s theme is “the early riser gets the trout.”  The recent hot, sunny days and warm, humid nights are boosting trout stream temperatures. Your best bet is to fish from dawn til noon, or in the stained flows following an afternoon thunderstorm that cools the water. Give the fish a rest when water temps creep past 66F.


Ponds are still a best bet, while lake surface temps are forcing stripers deep or upstream to summer thermal refuges. The bass bite on these flat waters is still very good.


Warm rivers are starting to hit their summer stride. Just avoid the muddy stormflows and then aim for resident bass, newly vacationing stripers, and spawning gar that have just begun their brief upstream migrations. 


Check out our detailed intel in our full report here:

http://blog.angler.management/

(Link in bio)


Good luck dodging storms and hunting cooler waters this weekend. May we all take time on Monday to remember our fallen service members who sacrificed themselves for our freedom. Have a safe and thankful holiday respite, everyone.


Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

www.unicoioutfitters.com


Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Wes said last week’s list is still spot-on for this week’s action, so here’s the rerun:


Dries: chubby Chernobyl, yellow simulator, 409 Yager yellow, parachute Adams, light cahill, or black ant, deckers yellow sally, green drake, coffin fly.


Nymphs & Wets: 

Yellow soft hackle, gold ribbed hares ear, pheasant tail nymph and soft hackle, greenie weenie,  and red squirmy worm and brown pats rubberlegs for stained water and stockers.


Streamers & warm water:

(Trout) Squirrely bugger, sparkle yummy, bank robber sculpin, and mini shimmer buggers for stockers. (bass & stripers) Cowens somethin’ else, gray/white clouser minnow, finesse changer, polar changer, crittermite, jiggy craw.


Headwaters:  

Most streams in our region were spared from yesterday’s storms, which did hit the Smokies and blew out those streams.   Our creeks are low, clear, and warm. 



At 9AM today Spoilcane was 62F and Smith was 62 above the lake and 66 in the DH section below it. Mornings will be better than afternoons due to water temps.  

https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/uv?site_no=02330450


High floating parachutes and chubbies should draw plenty of strikes, but don’t ignore a small dropper if the surface bite is slow. Wes said very few wild headwater bows ate his client’s dry fly during a midweek trip into the forest, but they slammed the little pheasant tail nymph dropped a foot below the dry.


Ian at R and R Flyfishing just gave us a fresh Smokies report:

https://randrflyfishing.com/2024/05/22/a-wet-may-sets-up-the-smokies-for-good-water-conditions-in-june/


UO buddy RSquared: “Monday I fished the Cohutta WMA. I was rewarded with some nice wild Rainbows, all of which were looking up in the gin clear water and took a size 14 Parachute Adams. I love this time of year!”



UO buddy, Rabunite Nanette, reported: “Trout were looking up early and often on the Chattooga this week, as we took advantage of the pre-holiday weekend peace and quiet to fish the upper river.  As late afternoon turned to evening, more trout rose to take our #16 Adams parachutes, caddis and yellow sallies, and the action continued until the full moon rose. The fish we caught weren’t big but they were plentiful. Using my new 7.5 foot, 3-wt rod on the fresh rainbows gave my arm a workout!”



Delayed Harvest: 

Georgia DH streams may have a few fish left, but they’re warming quickly due to the wide stream channel that catches too much sunshine. Hit them early and cover a lot of ground with dry/dropper combos.


The NC Delayed Harvest season ends next week, so go soon.  Those streams are at higher elevations and are a bit cooler, so you have a good shot at fish through the day and maybe some Dark-30 hatch-matching for the last  bugs of spring: yellow sallies, stray Cahills and caddis, midges, and some drakes or coffins if you’re lucky enough to find them.  Light tippets and small nymph droppers will solicit more strikes in the low, clear water. Toss some squirmies if a storm rolls through and colors-up the water.


https://www.eregulations.com/northcarolina/fishing/general-mountain-trout-regulations


Recall our post earlier this week about extending your DH season:

See page ATL-1:


https://issuu.com/coastalanglermagazine/docs/atl_2860d4cc650989


UO buddy CDB: “On private waters Monday after rain, eggs were a surprise hit. By Tuesday and Wednesday, perhaps because of the clearer water, fish weren’t really paying attention to eggs. However, smaller mottled brown and black rubber legs with gold legs were on fire! Size 8-12 worked particularly well, fished deep. 



On my favorite DH water, my experience was the same, mottled brown and black rubber legs out-fished almost every other alternative by at least 5:1. Small black leech patterns with a red bead head and black jig head bugger patterns (size 12 ) with a little red in them were also very effective, but still not quite as hot as the rubber legs. 


Unfortunately I did not run into any hatches, but I had to be off the water right about the time things would have been getting good!”


Stocked Waters:

GAWRD will publish a real long list of stocked waters later today, since it’s a holiday weekend. Hit those streams before lunch and the trout will have better appetites in cooler water.


https://georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Trout


The WRD hatchery staffs were out in force today, providing us with plenty of gifts for the weekend (50,000 fish according  to their weekly report).  I ran into a Burton Hatchery duo spicing up Smith Creek and the Hooch this morning. Grab your kids and a bucket of worms and have a blast.



For flyrodders, stockers are suckers for drifted eggs, squirmies and rubberleg stones and small streamers twitched often while slowly stripped back upstream. Put your rod tip just a few inches off the water surface during the retrieve and you’ll hook more streamer eaters.


Tailwaters:

UO buddy RonW: “Kurt and I fished the Dam last Saturday from about 8:15 -11:15.  There were only 2 other anglers on the water despite there being several cars in the parking lot. It was pre-frontal conditions, with zero wind and overcast skies.  We both started off with a dry dropper set up as usual. 


I hooked up pretty quickly on my #20 Freedom fly dropper. With nothing doing after that, I switched to a hares ear and that netted me 3 more.  It was the same theme all morning, change flies until something hit.  Fly of the day for me ended up being a #20 Frenchie on 6.5x, which landed me a 7 fish.  I ended the day with a cool baker's dozen in 3 hours of fishing.  I even hooked and  relocated a few small wild browns on my #22 dry (bass hook sets) 




It was another great day on the water getting my much needed weekly dose of hydrotherapy!”


Private Waters: 

UO guide Israel said his clients’ Soque River success really waned this week due to warming water temps.  Mornings were much better.  The rainbows were not keyed in on any particular fly pattern. He had to cycle through his fly box to maintain the action.





UO guide Caleb: “Fishing at Nacoochee Bend was excellent yesterday morning. I believe an early start paired with an overcast day was the key to success this late in the season. Almost all fish were landed on a size 12 March brown dry fly!”


Hooch conditions this morning:


Warm Rivers:

We published the results of GAWRD’s Tuesday meeting on bass regulation changes here:

http://blog.angler.management/2024/05/update-on-ga-black-bass-regs-proposal.html


UO staff is seeing more Lanier stripers running up the tributary rivers. They’ve also seen gar starting their spawning runs, too. Got a sturdy 8-weight outfit and some big streamers?


Reservoirs:

UO guides Joseph and Wes: “ The cicada hatch is really on the downswing here in eastern Georgia.  Check out apps like “Cicada Safari” and get out and explore to find fish keyed in on the few remaining bugs. As the Georgia emergence winds down, catch up to the hatch by driving north of our border.”



UO buddy AJ: “Only fished Lanier once this past week, last Friday AM. Topwater bass fishing was phenomenal, with everything coming on an Ima Little Stik in herring off points and reef markers. Had one or two blow ups that may have a striper, but didn't connect. 




My buddy Bruce took me hunting for Cicadas on Thursday and we had a great day. Boated 36 carp and missed/dropped at least half that many. He said there weren't as many bugs on water as last week, but fish are still looking up for now. My first time chasing the Cicada hatch was a blast!”

-Alex Jaume

Lanier on the Fly

https://www.instagram.com/p/C4k7uy7OH4P/?igsh=MXMxb2cyODMydDEycw==



Road Trip -Chapter 2

UO buddy Athens Jay’s   May-mester class entitled, “Georgia Fishes Field Course” traveled to north Georgia this past week and sampled stream fish communities in both the mountains and in the Ridge and Valley region. They even found a few spare hours in the evenings to wet a line.









That’s the latest from our UO staff and fishing friends. Nanette reminds everyone to store their camping groceries in safe spots to deter uninvited  supper guests!



Enjoy the weekend, while taking a Monday moment to remember our fallen heroes. Good luck during your three-day break.




https://www.defense.gov/News/Feature-Stories/Story/Article/3782916/arlington-national-cemetery-honors-fallen-with-flowers-of-remembrance/


Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

www.unicoioutfitters.com



Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Update on GA Black Bass Regs Proposal


Dredger tuned in to GAWRD state Fisheries Chief Scott Robinson’s live Facebook presentation tonite. Here’s a quick summary.

It’s recorded here:

https://www.facebook.com/share/v/LipZfuP4DdruBWFh/?mibextid=WC7FNe

He took a few screenshots of the key slides in that presentation. They are:

A) The proposed changes:



B) Supporting biological info:

Upper Flint River 15-inch limit results to date:



Modeling estimate of new slot regulation's effects:


C) Angler feedback on regs proposal so far:


We hope this additional information helps all of you fellow bass anglers to form your own opinion and let WRD know whether you support the proposal or not. You have until May 27 to respond to WRD via the methods listed below.


https://georgiawildlife.com/regulations/proposed

That’s the latest from WRD, folks. Have a great evening!



Friday, May 17, 2024

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 5/17/24

This rainy weekend is actually very good news for trout fans. The clouds should keep the sun off the water and reduce afternoon water temperatures.  Cloudy weather and some stain in cooler water should lead to a much better trout bite throughout the day. Just bring raincoats for the showers and a quick exit plan if thunder is heard.  Carry some squirmies and rubberleg stones to take advantage  of the muddy water bite. There should still be some dark-30 action for the latest hatches of the season and those dusk risers. Have your cahills, caddis, and yellow sallies ready. And maybe a coffinfly, too.

River bass action is starting to heat up. You just have to catch the clearing waters in between muddy stormflows.


Pond and lake action remains very good for bream and bass, and carp if you can home in on cicada mania. Shallow water stripers are waning as reservoir surfaces warm, so focus on spots and largemouths.


All the intel is in our full weekly report, here as always:

http://blog.angler.management/

(Link in bio)


Good luck this drizzly weekend. Use it to your advantage with our UO intel. Come by either store for some more!


Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

www.unicoioutfitters.com


Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries: chubby Chernobyl, yellow simulator, 409 Yager yellow, parachute Adams, light cahill, or black ant, deckers yellow sally, green drake.


Nymphs & Wets: 

Yellow soft hackle, gold ribbed hares ear, pheasant tail nymph and soft hackle, greenie weenie,  and red squirmy worm and brown pats rubberlegs for stained water and stockers.


Streamers & warm water:

(Trout) Squirrely bugger, sparkle yummy, bank robber sculpin, and mini shimmer buggers for stockers. (bass & stripers) Cowens somethin’ else, gray/white clouser minnow, finesse changer, polar changer, crittermite, jiggy craw.


Headwaters: They were running clear and cool at midday today. Spoilcane was 61F and Smith was 60F above the lake and 65F in the DH section below it.  They might muddy up for a short bit after a brief, intense shower this weekend, but they always drop and clear quickly. Dry fly action should continue to be great.  Go get some resident wild trout before hot afternoons boost water temps into the upper 60’s and slow down the bite. High floating parachutes and chubbies should draw plenty of strikes.



Delayed Harvest: 

The GA DH season has ended, but those fish can’t read signs. Find some DH leftovers in the larger streams by covering a lot of water above, in, and below the DH reaches.  Outwalk the harvest crowd and find some of the last evening hatches of the season.


The better bet is a road trip. The NC Delayed Harvest season extends thru May and those streams received their last dose of DH stockers earlier this month.


https://www.eregulations.com/northcarolina/fishing/general-mountain-trout-regulations


Recall our post earlier this week about extending your DH season:

See page ATL-1:


https://issuu.com/coastalanglermagazine/docs/atl_2860d4cc650989


Tis the season for helicopters, too. On larger trout rivers with some silty pools, BOLO the biggest bugs of spring. If you’re lucky enough, you might hit the magic week of green drakes during the day and their coffinfly spinners at dark. Rabunites call trout rises to these big mayflies “commode flushes.” Real dedicated trouters take month-long spring road trips and follow the green drake hatch up the Appalachian spine, all the way to PA.  Where? You’ve gotta earn this one with your own homework.



Stocked Waters:

Area stream conditions are still good and the WRD and USFWS trucks are still running hard.



Stockers are suckers for drifted eggs, squirmies and rubberleg stones and small streamers twitched often while slowly stripped back upstream. Put your rod tip just a few inches off the water surface during the retrieve and you’ll hook more streamer eaters.


https://georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Trout


UO buddy RSquared: “Long time TU leader Harold Hogan & I, along with his son & grandson, fished one of NW GA’s trout streams where we caught not only trout, but also several species of sunfish. However, the Coosa Redeye's could not be enticed to bite any of our various fly patterns.”





Private Waters: 

Mornings are better than sunny, warm afternoons, when water temps are creeping into the mid-60’s and slowing down the bite. Bigger nymphs have worked well when the water is stained after a rain, while the small stuff (pheasant tails, hares ears) on lighter tippet has been the ticket on low, clear water. We’ve had some risers, too. Israel said yesterday’s unguided guests at Nacoochee Bend had some good luck on yellow stimulators.



UO guide Caleb: Soque camp fished lights out yesterday! The high, cooler, stained water had the trout in an opportunistic mood. While we saw a few fish come up to the surface, all were caught on nymphs, specifically a red squirmy worm.”



UO buddy CDB:   “I fished private waters this week. Green mops did well. Interestingly, even with the worms starting to fall from the trees, a green squirmy did not do very well. Tan and white squirmy, however did produce some fish. 


WD-40 and black zebra midges did well on those fish feeding subsurface. Higa’s SOS continue to be a top producer. 


Have a fish in a difficult lie with multiple conflicting currents?  Tie on a small leech or Zonker jig with some extra weight and jig it up and down 6-8” through the seams. A fluttering leech is hard for a hungry fish to pass up!  Black leeches and zonkers are still producing well, and in the rain on Tuesday was a top producer.”


Warm Rivers:

REMINDER: GAWRD virtual public meeting on bass regulation changes Tuesday, 7pm:

https://georgiawildlife.com/regulations/proposed



UO company manager Jake: “Despite the rain, Tuesday’s staff fishing day was great for Jimmy, Israel, Wes, and me.  The team managed to tangle with a mixed bag of river bass, with a few being very nice fish, and there were even some redbreast caught on poppers before the rain set in. The bass were caught on a variety of both moving baits and bottom bouncing baits as the bite seemed to shift with the weather throughout the day. All in all, the four team members had a great day on the water, and although the numbers weren’t off the charts, the size of fish caught really made up for it. “





UO buddy Athens Jay:

“Floated a Piedmont river for bass last weekend and found some fish, despite higher flows from the recent rain. Top fly was a black articulated jig fly tied with a slotted tungsten football bead. “





Reservoirs:

UO-Helen manager Wes: “Cicada mania continued along this week. We’ve done well on the east side of the state and had a great couple of days catching lots of carp on cicada patterns. The hatches here are starting to wind down, however.  There are only a couple of weeks to take advantage of this unique opportunity. Scout apps like “Cicada Safari” and get out and explore to find fish keyed in on the bugs. As the Georgia emergence winds down, catch up to the hatch by driving north of our border.”








UO buddy AJ: “I fished Friday and Monday mornings in the past week. Friday we did see some striper schooling, but they were up and down so fast that we couldn't get on them in time. Bass fishing seemed a little slower than it had been as well, but we did get a nice 4.25 lb'er on topwater. Monday AM looked great out, but the fish didn't get the topwater memo. No striper schools found, but we picked up a few spotted bass and two small stripers blind casting clay banks. Water temp was down a few degrees from Friday and we had to fish subsurface and really slow our presentations down.  I did see quite a bit of bait on bridge pilings though and picked up a pair of nice spots throwing jig head paddle tails to them. Definitely worth checking the bridges and marina walls early. Probably about time to start focusing on humps, especially ones with brush piles on them. Schools of stripers can still be had on the fly, but now it seems like it's mostly a fish finder and sinking line game.”




UO buddy “Coach”:  “The  post-spawn action has been awesome. My son Rhett caught this nice bucketmouth Friday afternoon in about 10 feet of water. Crappie have been schooling and chasing bait and some other predators are hanging out with them.”



Ponds:

Grab the kids and take advantage of tomorrow morning’s Family Fishing Event at Buck Shoals Park:


https://license.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com/Event/ViewEvent.aspx?id=42221


Athens Jay: “A quick evening trip to the pond this week with my 3-weight. Brown Pat’s Rubberlegs is still the top producer. Be ready for the upcoming full moon, it should be great!”



Afar:

UO buddy Gayland: “Hi, UO folks!

I am at the Bozeman airport waiting for my flight back to Atlanta.  I have had a very enjoyable 9 day fly fishing trip!  No huge fish, but many rainbows 18 to 21” on the Missouri River and one pretty 21.5” brown.

I fished root beer midges that I tie and a few other flies under an indicator.   I was able to use a dry dropper on DePuy’s Spring Creek when Baetis began to appear.

I hope to see you soon!”






Road Trip Kudos:

UO buddy Athens Jay said week 1 of his three week May-mester class entitled, “Georgia Fishes Field Course” was a soggy hit for his 15 UGA undergrads. They sampled Piedmont streams this week and will head north to our mountains next week.





Trout Habitat Touchdown! 

Thanks and congrats to our friends, the Rabunites (rabuntu.org) for their Thursday stream habitat improvements. Join their clan and take art in their fun and work.


https://www.facebook.com/share/r/Srq2s2r83VWjfvoD/?mibextid=WC7FNe


Win Two New Helios Rods!

Stop in our Helen store, cast a new Helios, and enter the free raffle:

https://www.instagram.com/reel/C7FdEw7uxKL/?igsh=anh1MHJpNTBxZ3d6


https://www.orvis.com/helios-testcast-sweepstakes-terms.html


That’s the latest here as we await the weekend rains. Run toward the muddy water for trout and away from it for river bass. And run toward the deafening buzzing of cicadas in the trees along reservoir edges.   Good luck this weekend. Bring a raincoat and a quick evac plan in case of lightning. Good luck and be safe!



Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.

www.unicoioutfitters.com