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, June 14, 2024

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 6/14/24

Welcome to our warm and dry corner of the state. And we’re supposed to get even warmer and drier as summer sets in.  Your best bets this week are headwater wild trout, high elevation stockers, icy tailwater trout, bass and stripers in clearing rivers, and pond bass and bream at dawn and dusk.

While raincoats might not be needed this week, don’t forget your sunscreen and bug repellent.. And don’t forget our “Helios Open House” tomorrow. Join Garner Reid at our Helen shop between 10 and 2, test cast a rod, and qualify for a free shot at two Helios rods and a $3,000 Orvis gift card.


Check out the detailed fishing intel and more pics in our full report here:


Happy Fathers Day, too!

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries: tiny chubby Chernobyl, small yellow stimulator, 409 Yager yellow, parachute Adams, tan elk hair caddis, parachute black ant.

Nymphs & Wets: 

Small pats rubberlegs, gold ribbed hares ear, pheasant tail nymph and soft hackle, drowned  ant, green weenie.

Streamers & warm water:

(Trout) Squirrely bugger, sparkle minnow, and mini shimmer buggers for stockers. 

(Bass & stripers) polar changer, stealth jig, wiggle minnow, craw changer, boogle bug popper.

(Panfish) amnesia bug, small chubby Chernobyl, bluegill spider, donkey kong hopper.

(Carp) Gorgan craw, squirmy hybrid. 


They’re low and clear and starting  to heat up because of the warm nights.  At 10AM today Spoilcane was 64F 

and upper Smith was 63F.

They’re still fishing really well, however, especially before lunch.  Stealth and small, fluffy dries will get you plenty of rises from little wild trout.

A faithful UO customer told me today that he hiked high above Helen one morning this week and caught ten specks on his stimmy dry/ruby midge dropper combo. After lunch he slid over to a local stocker stream on the forest and hit the jackpot on stocker browns, with most hitting his Chernobyl and hopper dry patterns.

Stocked Waters:

Despite low, clear, and warming waters, area stocker streams are still fishing great, especially in the mornings. Both bait and fly anglers are enjoying success, with browns being the dominant species caught. Even our vacationers from FL, MS, and LA are finding some fish on their inaugural trouting trips to the GA mountains. The keys are small hooks, small baits, and light lines. Small buggers and chubby Chernobyl are working well for fly anglers.

There are still plenty of fish being stocked each week by GA’s  three state hatcheries and one federal hatchery.  Take advantage of the program before it cuts back on weekly stocking numbers, by design, after July 4th.  Sign up for the weekly stocking list, fresh every Friday, if you haven’t already. Find it here:


Rabunite Ray:  “Nice seeing you at the shop last Saturday.  I took your suggestion to fish the upper portion of a stocked stream near my home. I had a lot of strikes and managed three keepers, which I kept for a fish fry that evening.  Trout were taking my tan caddis dry, but only when I had a drag-free drift.  Good time fishing, thanks for the suggestion!”

Rabunite Bluejay said: “ Match the hatch!  This mayfly landed on me, so I found a dry fly close to it and it was game on at my local stocker stream. Thanks for good advice.

On my next trip, my girlfriend caught landed her first trout on a fly at my local hotspot near my Habersham home. We had a great time astream together.”

UO buddy Nanette: “Good day today on our favorite Rabun river. Water temps 62-63 this morning. I caught a bunch of fish, both wild and stockers. Used mostly size 16 elk hair caddis. To prove I am not a one-trick pony I added hares ear or pheasant tail nymph droppers for a while  in deeper pools and this worked too. 

Rick caught the biggest fish, a 15- inch rainbow on a 16 Adams. The river was crazy crowded. Lots of families with kids splashing about. We found spots old and new to fish. Here is my fish flop Friday special.”


UO buddy Hillis: “Three of us fished the Hooch tailwater below Buford Dam last Friday. Fishing was slow, but it was great to get out. I tried several different flies and techniques, none of which worked. I had several hits, but only landed one. One of my buddies caught a few, didn’t say how many, but he sounded a bit disappointed, so … Unfortunately my other fishing buddy was skunked.

I like to fish a hole we call “the deep hole” on the west side of the Hooch about 3/4 of the way down between the ramp and Haw Creek. I talked to a guy fishing from the bank there, as he was leaving he showed me his stringer of fish. It appeared he had caught his limit. One of the fish was really large. He told me it was the largest trout he had ever caught in the Hooch. Another guy spinning said he was catching some big trout also. As for the three of us, we did not catch many fish but we enjoyed wading and fishing the cool waters of the Hooch, and afterwards,  as is our custom, conversing about the morning over lunch at a picnic table in the park.”

UO buddy RonW: “Our trio hit Buford Dam last Saturday (6/8) for a few hours of fishing. We had "boots in the water" by 8: 30, trying to beat the heat. It was a typical start for the three of us with a dry/dropper setup. I bailed around 11:30 with 6 to hand, half bows and half browns. The last brown ate a size 22 dry on a downstream feed. He was rising about every 25 seconds.... Apparently my timing was impeccable!

The guys ended up staying a few hours longer. We all did about the same as far as numbers with most fish coming on the dropper. All in all, it was another great day for some much  needed hydrotherapy with my squad.”

Private Waters: 

We wrapped up UO’s spring guiding season with some nice private water trips.

UO-Helen company manager Jake: “Corey and I snuck out on the Soque Wednesday morning while the water temps were good, and we had a great morning. We landed fish in shallow riffles by tossing small, tungsten-weighted Girdle Bugs with smaller mayfly nymphs  trailing. Once the sun got up slightly, we switched to a dry/dropper rig and caught some really nice fish, with a few taking the dry.”

UO guide Israel: “I had fun guiding these gals last Saturday morning before the day warmed up. A small woolly bugger was our hot fly of the day.”


UO buddy Lumis: “Fished the Nantahala DH last Saturday morning as I practiced some Euronymphing, which is new to me. 

Euronymphing was pretty interesting and I stuck  to it all day.  I kept catching fish in the pocket water and never got around to dries since the nymphs were producing pretty well.

Fished the Smokies for a few hours on Sunday. Got into a couple small wild fish and lost 2 big ones after a minute of fighting both. I figure the big ones were holdovers that escaped the trophy section.   I usually love my barbless hooks but dang does it feel like I would have got them on barbed hooks!”

Warm Rivers:

Area rivers are clear from the lack of rainfall and warming up with these hot days.  The bass and bream action should start heating up, as well. Try some popper/dropper combos for both. Also strip some bigger streamers for the bass and maybe a bonus striper.

Stripers have once again set up summer camp at Nacoochee Bend.  Feel free to call our Helen shop (706-878-3083) if you want to book an opportunity to wade out and catch one on the fly. They’re tough, so you must hit them when they can’t scrutinize your fly. That means dawn, dusk, and in stained water after a storm.



Small lakes are still fishing well. It’s a fine time to paddle around their perimeters at dawn or dusk and toss poppers toward the bank. There are plenty of local opportunities for yakkers and canoeists to capitalize on this summer flyfishing action. Stop in the shop for some intel - and maybe a new Feelfree kayak.

See the state park lakes list in here:


UO buddy Athens Jay:  “Last Saturday a group of service-minded anglers that included members of the GA Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, GA Trout Unlimited, the Atlanta Flyfishing Club, Georgia DNR, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources participated in the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation Mentoring Camp for high school girls. We helped 120 young women catch fish and taught them about natural resources management and conservation. This is an incredible annual event, and as you can tell from the photos, fish were caught and much fun was had by all. I can’t express how grateful I am to all the volunteers who were willing to dedicate a day of their lives to helping others.

UGA 5Rivers member and Warnell fisheries student Adam picked up some nice fish after working hard all day helping kids.”


UO buddy AJ: “Not much new to report.  I fished a few hours Monday AM. Moved about a dozen or so bass on humps and saddles, especially those with brush piles. If there are no takers on top, try soft plastics fished a little deeper. And fish early if you want to avoid pleasure boat crowds. School is out and it's hot!  By 10:30 I was dealing with quite a few wake boats and jet skis.”

The Salt:

This just in: “Hey Jeff, This is Connor Walker from the UGA 5 rivers club! We got on some nice sea trout this week in Charleston and just wanted to send you a picture in case you want to include it in the next fishing report. “

That’s the latest from a warm and dry Helen. Come up and cast a Helios tomorrow if you haven’t the time.  Good luck this week. Happy Fathers Day to all of you dads. We hope your kids spoil you with some new fishing bling or a gift certificate for a guided fishing trip!  

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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