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:


(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.


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.


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.  


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:


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.


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

See page ATL-1:


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.


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.


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:


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?


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


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.


Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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