Good Morning Folks!
Despite having a severe allergies attack this weekend, I managed to get out and do a bit of fishing! Sunday morning I went up to Unicoi State Park, just above Helen, GA, to fish the Delayed Harvest stretch of Smith's Creek. This was my first experience fishing the delayed harvest and I was sure excited by the prospect of catching multiple fish larger than most I've caught so far. On the way up to the state park I stopped into Unicoi Outfitters for a stream report and see what flies they might suggest. After talking to the guys behind the counter for a bit, my confidence level was elevated even more.
I got up to the park and had to look for the Visitor's Center to check in and get the park permit to fish. That was my first mistake. After driving around the park, trying to follow the signs, for what seemed like half an hour, I found the Visitor's Center, tucked deep inside the camping area, locked up tight. By this time it was after 9:00 and the Center was supposed to open at 8:00. I got back in the car and followed the signs to the Lodge, thinking that someone would be working there on a Sunday morning. I've spent a little bit of time at Unicoi, so I thought I knew where I was going. I didn't. I made it to the Lodge and parked in the first spot I could find and walked in. I was on the restaurant level. Third floor. Back of the building. I wandered around looking for an employee and finally found a guest that knew where the registration desk was. Ground floor. Front of the building.
I got all checked in, got down to the correct parking area, geared up and headed toward the water. As soon as I got to the creek, I saw three guys rigging up and fishing (the parking lot was still in view!?!). One of the pieces of advice I got from the guys at the fly shop was to walk and since I enjoy hiking as much as fishing, that's what I did. I followed a bike trail for at least half an hour, maybe closer to 45 minutes, before I thought I had gone far enough and my rod started begging to be cast. I was in the water around 10:00 am. I fished until about 4:30, when the sun was starting to drop behind the mountains. I didn't want to be caught in the dark in an unfamiliar place, and I didn't know how long it would take to walk back to the car. I fished the whole day. Threw one of every fly pattern I had in my box and I never caught a fish. I got one soft bite and saw the flash as the fish threw the hook.
I could go on and on finding reasons why I didn't catch anything when a banner day was supposed to be a sure thing. I probably wasn't holding my tongue right, the weather change put the fish down, the water was too clear and the sky too blue, but the fact of the matter is, I had a wonderful day. I get frustrated when I don't catch anything, but I still got to spend the day knee deep in a near perfect stream in the woods on a gorgeous fall day in North Georgia and that, to me, makes it worth it every time. I'll be back to try again, just as soon as I can restock my fly box.
If you want to fish the Delayed Harvest at Smith's Creek or any of the other DH streams in Georgia, I put a link to the GA DH Fishing Regs in the sidebar. Make sure you stop into Unicoi Outfitters when you go, too, it never hurts to have a couple of recommended flies from the guys who know and a little local knowledge goes a long way! Oh, and remember, check in at the Lodge at Unicoi, NOT the Visitor's Center!
Hope you all are doing well,
Tight Lines and Happy Trails,
Unicoi State Park