Durniak's Fishing Report 10/20/23

Jimmy Harris

Senior Member

There are two types of web anglers and we welcome both. Shallow anglers enjoy our pics and scroll past our posts quickly. Deeper running anglers click on an extra link or two, dig deeper, and excavate some precious nuggets of intel that put them on more fish. Pick your “depth” and have fun during this great fall fishing fest!

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: Elk Hair Caddis, Stimulator, Parachute Adams, BWO, Cream Midge.

Nymphs & Wets: Plus One, Soft Hackle Hares Ear, Pheasant Tail Nymph, Zebra Midge, WD-40, Oops, Twister Egg.

Streamers & warmwater: (Trout) Sparkle Minnow, Jiggy Fat Minnow. (Bass/Striper) Clouser Minnow, Finesse Changer.


Trout waters remain low, slim, and super-clear. Last night’s 1/3 inch of rain hardly dented their flows. Local headwaters were low and clear this morning, even after the rain.

Dry fly and emerger action is good on headwaters, DH, and stocker streams. Private waters are also fishing well on small dredged bugs by anglers with a stealthy stalk.

Remember to clean, inspect, and dry your gear between trips to different streams and states to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species like whirling disease. If you can afford such, consider a second pair of wading shoes.

Reservoir bass and striper fishing continues to improve with falling lake temperatures. Hank’s got the latest scoop from his fishing Falcons.

The leaves are beautiful and air temperatures are perfect for anglers. We are blessed to live and fish in this region of abundant federal lands and waters as our playgrounds. Here’s the latest intel:


They’re still low and clear. Two tribs high above Helen were 56F at 8:00 this morning. Leaf fall is not too bad yet. Stealth and a little, drag-free dry will bring you some good topwater action. Ian just provided a nice Smokies update. Note the tip that warm afternoons are better than chilly mornings.


Delayed Harvest:

The NC streams are still fishing well, despite the low flows. It’s the same story of stealth to prevent spooking the fish in these skinny waters. There are two bright sides to thin streams right now. First, surviving stockers are quickly adapting to real fish food, stream bugs. Consider dropping that Y2K and Squirmy for a Pheasant Tail or WD-40. Second, skinny water allows fish to look up easily. Cash in on dry fly action now, before water temps drop below 50 and dampen the topwater bite.

The water was low and clear and 54 F, some bugs were flying, and noses were poking through the surface for emergers. A lot of midges, scattered BWO’s, and a few small October Caddis and Cahills flew past him. So he went unleaded - no weight! Not a midge fan, he instead knotted on a #16 Para Adams on 5X as his indicator and a #18 Pheasant Tail as the 6X dropper, two feet under the dry.

And never changed patterns during the next two hours of action, although he dropped to 6X on the dry for a better drift. About three fish hit the dry for each one inhaling the dropper. A big bunch of little wild bows, four wild browns, and all three flavors of larger stockers came to hand. Hi-sticking with his 10ft Euro rod, with only a foot or three of tippet on the water, enhanced his drag-free drifts through the slow seams where the bubbles, bugs, and fish converged.

The action slowed when the shadows began to fall at 4 PM. He got a few more on a #16 Tan Elk Hair Caddis and Yellow Stimmy before the river switch turned off at 5 PM. There was enough light left to drive the gorge and admire the fall foliage.

For folks coming from afar, toss a sleeping bag in your car and stay over at one of the local campgrounds, private or federal. Google “Brookside” near Topton and make a reservation.

Stocker Streams:

Leftovers are still around, especially on the larger streams that likely got more fish. Cover a lot of ground to pick off the leftovers, which are mainly browns. And some stockers are now looking for real bugs.


Fellow Rabunite Nanette: “ Hubby and I made time for hydrotherapy! I caught 8 trout on a local stocker stream, with all falling for a #14 Orange Stimulator. I netted 7 browns and one teeny rainbow. Rick got a rainbow and a brown on an Elk Hair Caddis. I forgot all about life’s challenges and loved every minute of standing in a stream again, watching a tapestry of colorful leaves fall and float down the river, and exercising some feisty brown trout. Yep, you were right when you said the next trout I caught would be the best trout of my life.”

Tailwaters: no recent reports.

Private Waters:

Wes: “Private waters produced some good fish this week. Be prepared to work for them though with the very low flows. Stealth, a good drift, and changing up fly patterns is key.

Early morning, when shade was on the water, Squirmy Worms, and jig-style nymphs worked for me. Once the sun started shining on the water midges, small natural nymphs, and soft hackles worked better.”

Jimmy: “Young Jackson C celebrates his first trout on the fly. He fished with Keegan Corcoran, a great mentor, last Sunday and had a blast.”

Caleb: “Our northern property was productive this week, although the fish were spooky. Effective patterns were Rainbow Warriors and Slush Eggs, though stealth and a long cast was the best strategy.

Israel: “ The flies in this new magnetic puck from Fishpond have been paying the mortgage for me this week. Stealth is still concern number 1 over any magical fly pattern. Midges in the size 18-20 range were my most productive patterns this week. Shout out to the Purple Rainbow Warrior!”

Warmwater Streams:

No recent reports, as most folks’ attention has now turned to trout.

Small Lakes:

No recent reports. Subsurface bassin’ should be good for another month or so before dropping water temps slow down the bite.


Browns back into Burton:

See today’s WRD news in here:


Hank: “Weather was the name of the game this week for fishing on Lake Lanier. Water temps are hovering around 70-71 degrees and that's exactly where we want to be. Fishing has been up and down this week as the weather fronts can really play havoc with the fishes’ feeding habits. Sunday/Monday the fishing was lights-out, while Tuesday was the day after the front and the bite was very poor. It rebounded some on Wednesday and as of this writing I am predicting Friday should be quite good.

Same patterns as last week apply. Fish are on threadfin and herring. Depending on the group you come upon it's important to quickly read which forage they're on in order to present the correct bait. For flyrodders, the Somethin Else fly is ideal when they're on threads and a Game Changer is best when they're feeding on herring. For conventional anglers, a Sashimi Shad is the go-to bait along with walk the dawg (GO UGA) baits also producing. Lastly, for anglers wanting an easier bite on the pond "the bomber bite" is in full mode right now. Go out at first or last light when it's basically dark and toss Long A Bombers up shallow on sand to catch stripers. You can do that throughout the nite for the next 2-4 weeks. Enjoy the pic of our fishing Falcons, Nate and Troy, on the pond with me this week.”


Adoption Kudos!

We salute Cohutta TU for its awesome mentoring efforts. RSquared reports:

“This past week, The Cohutta Chapter of TU held their annual campout at Rattler Ford near Robbinsville in Western North Carolina. Joining the "Old Guys" were 25 college students from the UGA and GT 5 Rivers Fly Fishing Clubs. The DH streams had been recently stocked and the fish were willing to eat Girdle Bugs, soft hackles, midges, Parachute Adams, Stimulators, etc.. TU members helped the less experienced, young scholars with casting instruction, fly selection, and setting up their fly rods. Several members also served as guides. All of the students were able to catch and land trout. For many, it was their first fish on the fly and also their first trout!

Saturday night, the Cohutta Chapter hosted the college students for a dinner of homemade lasagna that was slow cooked in cast Iron Dutch ovens by our chapter chefs Nelson Withers and Jeff Wilson. Dinner was followed by live music around the roaring campfire and countless stories telling and retelling about the fish caught and memories made!

We welcome new members. Find us here:


So, go tangle with some topwater trout while streams are skinny and water temps exceed 50 degrees. Or have a tug-of-war with spots and stripers as lake surface temps cool and bring them back to the top. Good luck!