Provo River Fishing Report and Outlook Mid – Late April

walleye provo river april 18 (click photo for larger image)

Walleye caught on Provo River worm in the Middle Provo.

We fished three times this week, twice on the Lower Provo and once on the Middle Provo River.

And this week, more than just stocked rainbows ran upstream from Deer Creek Reservoir.

You can watch the video of Jimmy Blackmon catching the walleye at the bottom of the fishing report.

What flies and techniques caught fish on the Lower and Middle Provo River – Late March to Late April?

This report was prepared on April 13, so dates include that date plus 14 days prior to and after (29 total days).

We have records for the last five fishing seasons (2014 – 2018) Jim and I have fished together. During that time, we fished  five times on the Lower Provo and nine times on the Middle Provo and caught 68 fish on the Lower and 61 fish on the Middle Provo.

Catch Chart Lower Provo River Mar. 30 – Apr. 27 (2014 – 2018)

Technique Fly Fish Pcent
nymphing
bounce

inline
or Euro
sow bug 39 57.4%
BWO nymph
 6  8.8%
midge nymph  4  5.9%
BWO shuck  4  5.9%
Total under
53 77.9%
dry or
dry-dropper
BWO 10 14.7%
BWO shuck  5   7.4%
Total Top 15 22.1%

Catch Chart Middle Provo River – Mar. 30 – Apr. 27 (2014 – 2018)

Technique Fly Fish Pcent
nymphing
bounce

inline
or Euro
or swing
P.R. worm 27 44.3%
midge nymph 10 16.4%
sow bug  7 11.5%
BWO nymph  7 11.5%
egg  1  1.6%
black ant  1  1.6%
Total under
53 86.9%
dry or
dry-dropper
BWO  8 13.1%
Total Top  8 13.1%

We caught a total of 129 fish with 106 fish by nymphing (bounce rig, in-line rig or Euro/Czech nymphing or swinging) and we caught 23 fish on top either fishing dry flies or as dry-droppers.

The majority of our fish (over 80%) were caught on both the Lower and Middle Provo Rivers using under-water fly fishing techniques.

What to expect in Mid April on the Lower and Middle Provo Rivers

Midges were hatching on the Provo River when we showed up in the morning and when we left in the evening. And now there is also a daily Blue-wing olive hatch between about noon and 2:00 pm. The last few days, it appears the best part of the hatch is around 2:00 pm on the Lower Provo.

We finally caught a fish (17 inch rainbow) on a sow bug this week and several other people also told me they caught a few fish on sow bugs the last several weeks. Since sow bugs have produced more than half of our fish on the Lower Provo, we have been missing a lot of potential fish.

Last week I mentioned we saw a few giant stone flies on the Middle Provo. I just noticed the UDWR fishing report now says “… you can expect a Skwala stonefly hatch to become more prominent“.

skawala stone fly

Skawala Stone Fly (found only in Wasatch County?)

“Stone flies” refers to many species classified in the insect Order Plecoptera, which includes eight families of “stone flies” just in Utah.

Skwala is the genus name for two species of “stone flies” found in the contiguous U.S. under the family Perlodidae.

Skwala Americana is the species of “American Springfly” which apparently has only been reported in Wasatch County, Utah (See U.S.G.S. Map)

There are many other Springflies, Salmonflies, Snowflies, Needleflies, Forestflies, Willowflies, Sallflies and Stone Flies in our area that are in different families, but all in the “Stone Fly” Order.

But the main point is to have a big fly or nymph in your box in case you see something like this hatching.

 

The Blue-Wing Olive Hatch

The Lower Provo has had a great BWO hatch. Jim fished by himself one day and we both fished it again two days later (Thursday; April 12). We showed up at noon and had the whole section of the river to ourselves.

We started catching fish with the bounce rig during the midge hatch. After the first fish was caught on the sow bug, everything else was caught on very small (size 20 – 22) midge nymphs. Then when the BWO hatch started we switched to BWO flies and shucks. The “Noseeum” BWO version worked the best, but we also had fish hit but not catch (or as Jim would say refuse) on Palmer flies, Griffiths gnats and Noseeum type midges.

We have caught more fish in that spot before, but of the 21 fish caught in the last two trips, none were smaller than 15 inches.

Four Species in One Day on the Middle Provo

Last Saturday (April 7) was a cold, rainy, dreary day. Of course that is the best time to fish. We had the pleasure of fishing with Jimmy Blackmon (Author, Leadership Expert, Champion Archery and a fun guy to fish with; watch video below).

Jimmy is a Southern Boy and even grew up near where Jim was raised, so naturally we had to take him fishing. He is an all round sportsman, so he has fly fished before, but had been warned by various buddies about how hard fly fishing is in the West.

Anyway, we took Jimmy fishing (in the rain). We had planned to park at the railroad track and walk in because we expected the Spring Creek/Snake Creek parking lot to be full. I guess the rain scared everyone off. Since it was empty we started there and fished the lower part of the Middle Provo below the rail raid tracks.

Provo River Worms and the Provo River Bounce Rig

We had big expectations for trout to hit worms since it had been raining so hard. Worms were scrambling for their lives to keep from drowning in the parking lot. So we started Jimmy fishing worm patterns on a bounce rig (yes, Provo River worms on a Provo River Bounce Rig).

It took Jimmy only a few minutes to understand how to cast the rig, though he had never fished it before. It was weighted heavily and I rigged it about 8 feet long to fish a deep hole. After he started casting to the sweet spot along the seam of a fast current, it took him another minute or two to understand what we meant by mending.

Then another couple of casts to recognize the hits he was getting… Then Booom! It was an unmistakable strike and he gave it a good downstream hook set. Fish On!

It was obviously a big fish and Jim and I assumed it was a big white fish. But to our surprise, when he finally go it to come up, it was a walleye.

What a lucky guy… I’ve never caught a walleye in the river. Jim has never caught a walleye in the river. I know the state record for walleye came from the Provo River, so maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised. But what a way to start the day.

After the excitement wore off a little, Jimmy went back to work. And it is work to cast and mend a long bounce rig until you get the hang of it.

He soon caught a nice (17 inch brown). This was when he informed us about how difficult the fishing was supposed to be.

So now, he’s really fired up and teased us about what other species he could catch as though catching fish in our river was easy (which is it most of the time). We fully expected to catch rainbows and at least one whitefish sometime during the day.

Jimmy’s next fish was a 17 inch whitefish. Not bad, three fish, three different species. So he then claimed he was going to catch a rainbow next to make it four fish and four species.

I already told you he was lucky. He did it.  First four fish were four different species. Let me hear from you if anyone out there has done that in the Provo before.

Anyway, Jimmy caught 3 or 4 more fish (all rainbows) and we quit early to go to the Wasatch Intermountain Fly Tying and Fly Fishing Expo in Sandy.

Got Hushpuppies?

Jimmy went by the store on the way home to get some hushpuppy mix to eat with his walleye later. I teased him earlier that all self-respecting Southerners made hushpuppies from scratch because I have lived in Utah so long, I forgot there is no hushpuppy mix in the stores.

So when Jimmy asked for help finding the hushpuppy mix, the young lady that helped him asked “What are hush puppies?” Jimmy said he would pray for her.

Want to improve your fly fishing skills? Want to do something special with out of town friends? Come Fishing with us. Click Here to Learn More.

 

Each of the last three trips would have been great days for us to take a new fly fisher with us or someone that wanted to improve their fly fishing skills.

Flies to Use in Late March to Late April on the Provo River

What flies should be in your fly box the next few weeks on the Lower or Middle Provo River?

Our Catch Charts for that time frame have six flies for the Lower Provo and seven for the Middle Provo.

  • sow bug (finally starting to work on both sections)
  • P.R. worm (Middle only)
  • BWO fly
  • midge nymph
  • BWO nymph
  • BWO shuck
  • Egg pattern
  • black ant

On the Middle Provo, sow bugs and worms patterns caught over 56% of our fish in previous trips (but not this year! We still have not caught a single fish on a sow bugs, but my Friend Rod caught several rainbows on sow bugs last week).

On the Lower Provo, sow bugs and BWO flies, shucks and nymphs catch 94% of the fish (but still only one fish this year on a sow bug).

Over 40% of our fish on the Middle Provo were caught on worms, but no fish were caught on worms on the Lower Provo River.

For fishing on top, you will need noseeum type BWO flies and shucks.

Hint: Try drowned BWO flies after the hatch is over. We used a CDC version with very short wings.

We look forward to seeing you on the river.

This Provo River Fishing Outlook Report is provided by Jim O’Neal & BackcountryChronicles.com

See all of our fly fishing videos here at Jim’s YouTube site.

Check out this week’s video where we fished with Jimmy Blackmon between River Road South and Memorial Bridge.

Jimmy Blackmon Catches Four Species on Middle Provo River


This is the best fly box we’ve ever used. It’s Magnetic! Simply drop your wet flies on the magnetic pad and never lose another fly to the wind!

Comments

  1. Wow! I can’t believe 4 species on the Provo River! Great work Jimmy. I appreciate all the fair weather fishermen. I can attest Dan and Jim are incredible guides.

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