Durniak's Fishing Report 9/29/23

Jimmy Harris

Senior Member

We are still very dry but cooler up here and fish are responding well to lower water temps! Your take-home message is this: headwater streams are skinny but cold, and wild trout are eating midges if they’re not spooked. A bunch of GAWRD stockers have hit north GA streams, while Delayed Harvest kicks off in NC next week. Ponds should fish well, Lanier’s topwater action continues to improve, and droughty rivers mean clear water and a great last hurrah for flyfishing bassers! Grab your poles and go!

Wes’ Hot Fly List:

Dries: Elk Hair Caddis, Orange Stimulator, Micro Chubby (great for dry-dropping on bigger water)

Nymphs & Wets: Drowned Ant, Pheasant Tail, Sexy Walts, Prince Nymph, Squirmy Worms, Mops, and Rainbow Warriors will work well on NC DH streams next week.

Streamers & warmwater: Flatliner, Sparkle Minnow, Jiggly Craw, Polar Changer.


Same story as last week: Our local trout waters are still skinny, but they’ve cooled off significantly in response to our fifty-degree nights and seventy-degree days. Fish will still be really spooky in the thin, crystal-clear water, but they’ll have much better appetites in comfortable thermal surroundings. Dries are a best bet, while dropper nymphs will dredge up bigger fish in the few deep pools you’ll wander across. Cover a lot of ground to fish a decent number of headwater drought refuges.

NC forest streams have slightly better flows and even cooler temps for Nantahala and Pisgah Forest fans. I stopped by Nan DH late yesterday afternoon (28th) on my way to another destination and watched wild bows sipping midge emergers and adults in the crystal clear, 64-degree water. Bring some tiny bugs and 6 and 7X tippet for those risers. Then Euro the deeper pools and runs with small Frenchies and Sexy Walts as anchors, with tiny Pheasant Tails and Zebra Midges as droppers. Grab A Nat Geo map to navigate those distant forest roads and headwaters.

Despite low flows, the Park is still fishing well and you can catch a bonus of bugling elk near Cherokee. Check out Byron’s daily park intel here:


Stocker Streams:

GAWRD region Fisheries Supervisor Anthony Rabern told me that his agency had stocked heavily in the last two weeks for National Hunting and Fishing Day and to lighten the fish loads at the hatcheries. He said to expect a lot of browns.


Watch for a really long stocking list posted around 3 PM here:


Reminder: North Carolina’s Delayed Harvest program kicks off in October. More info and the agency’s DH stocking schedule here:



No recent reports to our shop. Web reports show both the Toccoa and Hooch still fishing well.

Warmwater Streams:

They’re still clear in response to a lack of rain and are a best bet. I crossed both the Hooch and Chestatee yesterday and they were low and clear. Go soon, before colder water in November slows down the flyfishing action and you’ll have to pick up conventional gear.

My friends and I had a big time on Monday’s float down the Hooch. The 3-raft armada brought a variety of weapons to assault all targets. Caleb had a blast on bream with his 4-weight outfit, while Wes sight-fished a wily carp.

The young guns outfished us flyfishing geezers with their conventional gear, landing a good bunch of Shoalies and spots. Ben took big bass honors with a 19-inch Shoalie.

Jimmy missed a really nice striper when it short-struck his soft bait at the head of a big pool. When the sun got behind the trees late in the day, the fly flingers finally did pretty well on Stealth Bombers tossed way back in the shade under the tree limbs. It was a great day of team-building and fish-fibbing.

Caleb: ”Our day of fishing was a huge hit. I had a great time on the water with the guys. While the rest of the crew was either rowing or fishing for bass I elected for bream. I had landed north of 20 fish all on an electric yellow amnesia bug. “

Dredger ran north yesterday to get some last licks in on his beloved Smallies. The river was low and clear and fish were spooky. It was a tough go to land a half dozen in the last 2.5 hours of daylight. It seemed like the fish have moved to deeper hangouts. His trip highlight was a doubleheader on a dry/dropper rig. Despite the low total, it was a wonderful, 75-degree day wading a clear river against a backdrop of green hills.

Small Lakes:

No recent reports. Catch rates should improve with cooling surface waters.


Hank: “Fish are starting to wake up on Lanier and it's safe to say the topwater bite is slowly starting to form. Enjoy the photo of "starting" Falcons linebacker Nate Landman with a husky topwater Lanier striper caught this week.

The key is to fill up the gas tank and ride till you find fish on top. No birds just yet. They’re still 6+ weeks away. Binoculars are a must to help find the surfacing fish. Blind fishing humps and long points might get you a bite or two. Mornings are as good as afternoons so there's no distinct advantage just yet. Going out when the COE is generating can help some too. For conventional anglers, try tossing walk-the-dog baits, Super Flukes, and Magic Swimmer type lures (or a Spro Sashimi Shad). For fly anglers, try tossing larger Clousers or Half-n-Halfs as well as Coyotes and Polar Fiber Game Changers as these fish are eating herring in the 4-6" size... We have some great mid-October new moon dates still available for bookings as well as December dates. November is about booked up. See you on the pond!



RSquared: “This week, I am in Spokane, Washington attending the annual meeting of Trout Unlimited. I was able to fish from a small drift-boat with a local TU member on the Spokane River where the wild & native Redband Trout put on their aerobatic shows when hooked. My big fish was a beautiful 16" Redband!”

Athens Jay sent a few pics. I’m sure an awesome fish story will soon follow.

Take advantage of perfect weather, clear water, dropping stream temperatures, and a bunch of fresh stockers to have a blast this week.

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