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.

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 5/2/24

May wraps up our great spring season. Right now trout stream flows are decent, clarity is great, and temperatures are still cool enough in the larger streams for continued, great trout action. The biggest challenge is stalking spooky, experienced fish in clear water when the sun is high. Perfect drifts of dries and nymphs and/or effective caddis surface skates bring much higher success. Going early and late, when the shadows are on the water, also helps your catch rates.


You may have to dodge some weekend showers, so bring your raincoats. Hopefully the rain will be spotty and the dry fly action will still be hot. Bring a few squirmies just in case the streams stain and the earthworm hatch heats up.

Speaking of hot, the ponds sure are. See Jay’s awesome report. And for jumpshooting, give Lanier a try. See Alex’s report and notice his ditching of the trolling motor to achieve his striper success.  Jimmy has a great story on his bucket list dorado trip, too.

It’s another prime weekend to wet a line in our region, so don’t miss it. Soak up all of our timely intel in the full report before you head out:


 (Link in bio)

Good luck.  May you find your fish on top and your flies matching the hatch! Stop in either UO store to resupply.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries: stimulator, 409 Yeager yellow, parachute Adams, parachute light Cahill, BWO, micro chubby, yellow humpy, tan elk hair caddis. 

Nymphs & Wets: 

Yellow soft hackle, gold ribbed hares ear, 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.


Two words: Prime Time! Go while streamflows still hold out and bugs are hatching at high elevations. Carry some yellows along with your tans.

UO buddy RSquared: “I was able to get away to North Georgia this past week & I found some wild rainbows that were looking up in a stream that everyone knows but nobody names! They liked my size 14 Parachute Adams and it was the only fly I used. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" I have my kayak loaded into my truck & I'm on the way to the farm where I will be pursuing Coosa Redeye's.  That will be in next week's report!”

UO buddy Splatek : “Snuck out to

IDBIS Creek Monday and landed about a dozen and a half rainbows. Sun didn’t come out like it was supposed to, which I think accounted for them hitting hard early then turning off midday. 

Very little dry action except a few looks; all action was on a small bug drug along the bottom.”

UO-Helen manager Wes: “Atticus and I got snuck away this week on a backpacking trip in the Smokies. We saw lots of yellow sallies and mayflies hatching and caught quite a few specks on 409 Yeager yellows and stimulators.”

UO buddy Skilz:  “Our trio had a great day on our favorite waters north of the GA border, with 74 fish caught in total.  Wild rainbows were abundant among some nice stocked fish as well.  Stonefly in size 8, Walt's worm, and pheasant tail patterns in size 14 & 16 did major damage euronymphed with 5x tippet.  Airborn flies were visible such as mayflies and golden stones but only several rising fish were spotted from morning to midday,  so we did not focus on fishing dries and it paid off!”

Delayed Harvest: 

They continue to be a ton of fun for dry fly flingers that arrive late and fish til dark.

UGA 5Rivers club exec Coop: “Yesterday was awesome! I spent some time catching fish in upper Smith DH via a tiny pheasant tail fished under a buoyant yellow stimmy. Then I headed high above Helen and caught a lot of little wild rainbows on caddis and cahill dries. They were all beautiful. Cahills were hatching and fish were looking up!”

Rabunites Bluejay and Dredger hit Chattooga DH last Friday afternoon.  It was another epic trip. Fish were rising in the first pool they entered around 4PM. Alas, the bows and browns were eating emerging, microscopic BWO’s, so small that their size 22 dry flies were too big to match the hatch. They still caught a few stray fish on the #16 tan caddis lead fly and the BWO trailer.

When that action died, they hiked upstream further to a new series of pools and found slightly larger BWO’s hatching and fish busting them. 

Here their BWO dries were small enough for a match, and it was game on for hours.  Fish were caught via dead drifting and skating, with about 4 on the BWO to each one crushing the caddis.  A few more caddis and Cahills hatched as the sun set, but the main attraction remained those tiny BWO’s on that heavily overcast day.  Last fish was fondled at 830PM and the satiated duo hiked out via headlamps at 845.

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.

GATU Dream Trip runnerup prize winner Linda Schultz enjoyed her prize this week. She had a very successful trip to the Hooch at Nacoochee Bend.

UO-Helen manager Wes: “I fished with Scott and Colin on private water last weekend. With the right fly and a good drift, we were able to fool some big fish. Changing tactics at each spot was important. In slower pools and runs soft hackles and chubby’s worked well. In faster runs streamers and stoneflies were the ticket.”


UO buddy RonW: “The trio hit the Dam last Saturday with plans of trying something new. We got in at our normal entry point and fished our way down to the top of Bowman's Island. We went to the left and fished all the way down to the bottom of the island and then crossed the main stem of the river and worked our way back up the trail to our starting point. 

It certainly wasn't a high numbers day although fish were caught by all. We found plenty of risers but just couldn't get them to commit to our tiny #20-24 dries.  Overall it was another great day on the water for some much-needed hydrotherapy.  It's always nice fishing new water, especially in good company! “

UO buddy Spangler: “The Hooch yielded only a bunch of stocker rainbows but it’s better than a skunk! Almost hit for the cycle: got one on a streamer, one on a nymph under an indy, one euronymphing, and one under a dry. Nothing on the dry, though.”

Warm Rivers:

UO guide Joseph: “First wet-wading fish of the year for me and it was a dandy! Caught this fish in the river overhand-stripping a game changer in super fast water.”


New UO buddy AJ: “I fished Tuesday AM and had a really good morning! Water temp was around 68* when I put in at 6:30am. Throwing topwater at points and blow throughs at first light got me into spotted bass. Around 7:30am, I looked across the lake and saw a good group of stripers busting bait on a clay bank. I took off over there and got a solid 12lb striper on an intermediate line and a Finesse Changer. That group came up 4-5 more times over the next 45 min, but they were up and down extremely fast. I managed one more striper after giving up trying to chase them down with the trolling motor. 

After that school disappeared, I went back to hitting reef markers and clay banks/points for spots. Caught some decent fish throwing bone colored topwater and chrome magic swimmers. I started seeing some schools of stripers on top again around 10am. Some really good groups too, but they were up and down quick and moving FAST! I managed to get 2 more stripers running and gunning on schools with the big motor. 

Went back to spot fishing the rest of the AM and continued to get fish on spinning gear and managed to get a few on Game Changers as well. I was getting ready to head in, but decided to hit one more blow through with the chrome Sebile and landed a good 3lb spot. As I went to lip the fish, he decided to flop, burying a treble DEEP in my thumb. I immediately remembered why I quit fishing with treble hooks! Get out there while the getting is still good! Summer water temps will be here before we know it. And remember to pinch those barbs!”



UO buddy Athens Jay: “Pond fishing is prime now. Fish are finally starting to eat on the surface, but a dropper will definitely produce more eats and the delightful possibility of a double. Brown Pat’s Rubberlegs with no bead is still the top producer for a mix of bass and bream. A Boogle Bug or a black/yellow Stealth Bomber will make a great strike indicator. If you have a bamboo rod, use it for some real entertainment. “


UO owner Jimmy: “I recently returned from a trip to Argentina where we fished for Golden Dorado.  Our group of 5 anglers was hosted by SET Flyfishing, one of the most professionally run organizations you'll find.  Dorado have been on my bucket list for quite some time and, as they say, I ain't gettin' any younger.

I've been fortunate to trout fish the Patagonia Region of Argentina with SET Flyfishing for a number of years but this adventure was unlike anything I've experienced.  The setting for Dorado is in the northern part of the country on the Parana' River right next to Paraguay; we even had an exquisite dinner on the Paraguay side of the river one evening.

Fishing for these giants with a fly rod is an all-day event from sun up to sun down with a nice 3-hour siesta in the middle.  Dorado are vicious hunters and when they attack your fly it's no holds barred.  Their first reaction is to launch themselves skyward in an explosion of water.  After 4 or 5 more leaps, they'll go down and bulldog you.  No screaming runs, no fear of running out of backing; just brute force.  Once you boat one, the fight isn't over.  We were warned from day one to never reach into a Dorado's mouth to remove a hook.  You'll pull back your fingers with all the meat shredded off.  You'll take this seriously after you see their jaws automatically clamp down on your pliers as you try to get your fly back.  They bite so hard there's a resounding "CLING!!!" when teeth hit metal.

It's definitely a bucket list trip, maybe one I have to fill again in the future.”

Your long spring menu of opportunities continues this week. That menu will shorten soon with rising water temps and the completion of some key insect hatches, so don’t delay. Get out there soon and enjoy the great action!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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