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 10, 2024

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 5/10/24

Flood and wind survivors rejoice!  You are now rewarded with a great fishing week ahead. The three inches of rain are running off and nearly all trout streams will be fishable by the weekend. Bigger bass rivers might need an extra day or two to clear.

After the wind and water, we now have fine weather to enjoy, too. Air and water temps will be prime for both fish and fishers this weekend.

Add one more goody to this week’s mix: Cicada Mania is now happening in the upper half of our state. Anglers will have to do some research to find their own carp and bass honey holes, which are closely guarded secrets. But UO staffers who are cashing in right now have shared some great hints for hunting your own honey holes. 

Don’t forget two home stretches, too. Georgia DH “release” regulations end on 5/15, so go soon for one last hurrah on these streams this spring. On and after 5/15, bring your kids and your bait to GA DH streams for a supper harvest.  Reservoir surface temps are slowly heating up and Alex says go soon for a few last shots at shallow spring stripers.  All the intel is in our full weekly report, here as always:


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Get it while the getting is still good this spring. Honor Mom and work your trips around her special day.  Better yet, do your homework and get her on the cicada hatch.  Good luck this May! Stop in either UO shop for more advice and timely supplies. Note: both stores will be closed next Tuesday (14th) for our semiannual staff fishing day.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries: chubby Chernobyl, yellow simulator, clueless caddis, parachute Adams, para light cahill, deckers yellow sally. 

Nymphs & Wets: 

Yellow soft hackle, gold ribbed hares ear, brown girdle bug, CDC pheasant tail, fast water prince, red squirmy worm and peach egg for 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.


Prime Time continues!  Our local streams have already shed their three inches of rain and are looking great. Spoilcane ran 62 degrees at 4pm today with perfect flow for floating fluffy dries.  Toss your favorite high-floating dries for wild fish.  Bring some yellows along with your tans.

Athens Jay also added this bit of advice after a hiking trip in Rabun County: “Be careful on the trail. The warm weather has our legless friends out and about!”

Delayed Harvest: 

Small streams are fine and larger rivers are still a bit high, but falling just in time for your weekend adventures.   Be careful wading!  Carry the three vital components with you: a wading belt, staff, and a buddy.  

Stocked DH fish are now experienced and your catch rate on junk flies might be low. Use hatch matching nymphs, emergers, and dries.  Go late and stay til slap-dark to overdose on dry-fly inhaling fish during that last hour of daylight.

UO buddy Liz said she had a nice afternoon this week on Smith DH. Her hot bug of the day was a root beer midge.

Note: I just returned from Smith DH, where the closed access road blocked me from the parking lot and creek. Lodge staff said the road will reopen tonite at 6pm, after the concrete on a new bridge cures.

UGA 5Rivers fish vacuum Matt hit Chattooga DH last Friday and reported:  “Reporting back on my adventure. It was AWESOME! One of the most active dry fly eating fishing trips I’ve ever been on. Fished from 5:30-8:20pm and they were eating the whole time. Walked about a .5 mile up from the parking lot and fished for another .3 miles. Found some good deep holes and caught some nice browns on a small parachute Adams sized 18. They were also taking the size 12 elk hair. Caught another nice rainbow on a parachute Adams size 12 in a faster run. I believe though that if you threw anything that floated and it looked like a bug something was gonna eat, that’s how eager those fish were for a dry snack! Amazing trip but definitely need to work on my line mending and precise casting but I plan on going back real soon! Thank you so much again for the info it saved me a lot of time!! Truly a beautiful river and a treasure of north Georgia.”

UO buddy Hillis checked in after his NC road trip: “Two of my fishing buddies and I ventured across the state line to NC this week to fish some freshly stocked DH streams. We fished the Tuck (Tuckasegee River), the West Fork of the Pigeon River, and Fires. We had good luck on all three of the streams, and I think all three of us had species slams. Woolies and nymphs worked for us, including olive, black, and white woolies, soft hackles, hot headed (yellow bead) pheasant tails, pheasant tails with a red collar, and a few other flies. Most all of our flies were beaded. We caught fish dead drifting, swinging, stripping, and euro nymphing. Water was crystal clear in the Pigeon and Fires, but the Tuck was stained a bit. We had planned to fish the Nantahala today (Thursday) but did not because of heavy downpours. It was still a great road trip!”

Stocked Waters:

There should be another long Friday list posted again this week. 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.


Private Waters: 

They continue to fish well, but now require better techniques due to clear water and educated fish. Mornings are better than warm afternoons, when water temps creep into the mid-60’s.

UO guide Caleb had two great trips this week. March browns were still hatching and his clients caught a few bonus fish on top. Most fish were caught on tiny (#18) pheasant tails, however. Mornings have been better than afternoons because of the high sun and water temps that hit 65 around 1PM. Both Thursday and Friday’s trips this week were rained out, but tomorrow’s trips should be real good as the river clears and the fish are well-rested!

UO company manager Jake: “Gordon and I had a great morning on the Soque earlier this week. A rain shower the evening before had the water slightly stained, and the fish were feeding well in the stain. We caught most of our fish on a Girdle Bug, with a few others coming on a Rainbow Warrior, and a #16 pheasant  tail on or near the bottom.”

Kudos to several UO staffers and all fellow volunteers for hosting two events at Nacoochee Bend last weekend. We hosted Becca Klein’s All Kids Fish event on a soggy Saturday. The kids didn’t mind the rain and had a big time. UO owner Jimmy said: “31 kids had the privilege of learning about fish habitat and how to flyfish this past Saturday. Every participant went home with a new Orvis Encounter fly rod kit.”

On Sunday we again hosted the Casting for Recovery-Georgia gals for the last event of their weekend retreat- trophy trout fishing at Nacoochee Bend. Those volunteer guides from near and afar put big smiles on the faces of their special guests! 

Jimmy: “Casting for Recovery at Nacoochee Bend

 last Sunday was another great time. Here’s a lucky participant with her volunteer guide, Megan Nellen.”


Use buddy Ryan: “I volunteered at a kids fishing clinic in ATL hosted by Malik Wilder (IG @fishingforhiphop) where the mayor came out along with around 30 kids with varying levels of experience.  Most of them had only fished once or twice, if at all, before.  After casting lessons and lunch it was time to hit the water, where many of the kids caught fish and left for the day with a new pole and tackle kit to continue their learning. 

Afterwards we shot over to the Hooch tailwater to find the water stained. I called the release hotline which disconnected before I could get any info, but the gauge looked good so I thought nothing of it.  Good karma hit quick as I've only had 1 day in a decade other than last Saturday where I've caught 3+ wild browns from this spot.  Tight line nymphing 5x tippet with natural nymph patterns brought 7 to hand as the sun started to set.  I hooked a fish, swung it towards me and it came off my hook.  Next cast I hook another fish and when I go to net it I realize the last fish flopped right into my net, so I had a brown/rainbow double! 

 As we are slowly walking to the bank we realize we are currently treading through a rising release, and the water is coming up fast.  What was 3ft deep was now 4+ with a dangerous increase in current.  I tiptoed to the bank in the nick of time as the water rose about another foot. 

I felt lucky we were already headed to the bank and noticed what was happening.  Always confirm the release and stay safe!”

Warm Rivers:

They might need another day or two to clear up some more. Then the river bassin’ should be good, along with the possibility of a bonus striper or two. In a few weeks the Lanier gar spawning run should start, so have your rope flies ready. 

Jimmy reports: “John Wilkerson had a successful river bass trip on the Chattahoochee River Sunday.  An old-fashion Broken Back Rapala was found to still be an effective lure.”

UO friend Sam shared this pic of a trophy shoalie he caught and released on a small, naturally colored crankbait from a north GA River earlier this week, before the big rain.


UO staff sez:  “Cicada Mania is happening in Georgia! Wes, Iz, and Jackson recently got on them.  UO guide Joseph added: “Cicadas are here! Grant and I have caught a ridiculous amount of carp in the last three days. Two 40-fish days and one 20-fish day. This is the first time in over 200 years that these two broods have converged so it’s a very special event! As far as where do go, doing research pays off. I use an app called “cicadia safari.”  It has reports from users along with pictures and videos with dates of the posts. Other anglers follow “cicadas mania” posts.

When you get to a suspected area of bug concentration, you will hear them. Banks with overhanging trees accompanied with cicadas falling in the water are the places to fish. If you don’t see or hear them, then keep moving. As far as fly selection, having a hefty foam bug is a must. Ideally you really want to have it splat fairly loudly when it hits the water. Carp fishing won’t be this easy again for a while so it’s not something you want to miss! “

New UO buddy AJ: “Not a lot has changed on Lanier since last week's report. Water temp is a little warmer, 76 in between storms this AM. Small to medium sized groups of striper feeding early AMs and then topwater bass mid AM on. Still fishing points, clay banks, blow throughs, and humps. For striper, I will say that larger baits seem to be working better early and then moving to a small Clouser or Somethin' Else if you find any schooling fish. A buddy and I had a good group up this past Saturday AM. I was throwing a Game Changer into busting fish and he was throwing a Somethin' Else.

They wouldn't touch the Changer and he hooked up twice. By the time I re-tied, the fish were gone. Next time out I was prepared. Got 2 casts into 2 different groups and was rewarded both times with a 2" Clouser. “


UO buddy Athens Jay: “My curiosity and the daily serenade got the best of me this week. I just had to tie up a cicada fly and give it a try. No big surprise, pond bass will eat it!”

That’s the latest from our corner of the world. Enjoy your special Sunday with Mom and the awesome fishing days before and after it. Whether you choose Dark-30 dry flies on trout waters or Cicada Mania at lower elevations, this is gonna be another great week for fresh fish tales. Good luck making them! Come see us in Helen or Clarkesville and swap stories soon. Just not on Tuesday, for we’ll be busy making our own!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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