Nacoochee Bend - Serious Trout FishingOK - I admit it. I stole the title for this review from their flyer but I couldn't help it, this is "Serious Trout Fishing". No frills, no cushy chairs, no upscale lodging (although downtown Helen is literally a stones throw away) just serious fishing, the way I like it! Unicoi Outfitters has really done a marvelous thing here turning a good fishery into trophy water. Unicoi acquired the land in January of this year and has managed it since as a trophy trout fishery. Originally stocked with around 300 rainbows in the two and one half to four pound range, this mile and a half section of the upper Chattahoochee now holds countless fish, rainbow, brown, and brook some probably topping out the scales at twenty pounds or more!
I recently had the opportunity to visit with them and fish Nacoochee bend with my buddy Joe Fausett. We arrived at the shop around 7:00, surveyed the stream for a minute and geared up. On David's recommendation, (David Dockery, co-owner of Unicoi Outfitters) we both tied on 2x tippet. I decided to try the old reliable black wooly booger and Joe tied on brown stone and we headed down to one of the lower pools and started fishing.
Almost immediately Joe hooked into a beautiful rainbow, probably 26'', but lost the hookset on a jump. Imagine a 26'' fishing jumping no less then 10 feet from you - there is no better site. About 10 minutes later I hooked into a magnificent brown, around 16'', which I landed. I later found out from David that this was a wild fish (or at least it had been in there a while and not stocked by Unicoi, as they had not yet stocked any browns). We continued to fish the same pool and were shortly joined by David who landed a nice rainbow on a #14 Irresistible, one of the most productive patterns for this section.
As the temperature started to rise we figured we would move up before it got too hot so we hopscotched another angler and walked on up to one of the uppermost pools. Again Joe hooked into another monster which again proceeded to throw his fly (smart fish up here!). After Joe checked his hook for defects (hehe) we moved up again to the pool directly below Nora Mill.
Now keep in mind that this is the same pool that has the observation deck above it - the same one you have probably stood on and stared in awe at the enormous fish feeding on the food pellets below. One would think that these fish would be a snap to catch, but fooling the fish in this pool is a little harder than it looks. After trying five or six patterns with no luck we both tied on a tan elk hair caddis and that seemed to do the trick. Perhaps it was the color - after all it did kind of look like a food pellet. Regardless both of us hooked up. I lost mine almost immediately but Joe was determined not to let this one get away. He played it all the way down to the pool below where he finally was able to land it - a nice 24'' rainbow.
Since it was almost noon and the temperature was already in the mid to upper 80's we decided we would move on up to the last pool and take a look. We walked along the bank up to the last pool which came around a bend in the stream. Perhaps because we were a little too excited from our experience in the last pool so we were a little careless in our approach and proceeded to spook several monster fish holding at the bottom of the pool. We made several casts anyway and I even managed to hook a small rainbow, but it was getting very hot and we knew it was time to say goodbye. I'll definitely be back in the fall.
Unicoi Outfitters is located south of Helen, on Highway 75, just an hour and a half from Atlanta. The Nacoochee Bend section of the Chattahoochee River is directly behind the shop. Fishing rates are $90 for half-day and $150 for full day. Guide rates are $80-$125 for up to two anglers.
Call (706) 878-3083 for more information and to make a reservation.
Review previously printed in August '98 issue