Provo River Fishing Report and Outlook Mid March

buffalo midge hatching provo river in march

Buffalo Midges hatching

Everyone should know by now that there has been a very good and consistent Buffalo midge hatch just before noon on the Middle Provo the last several weeks.

Jim and I met early (9:00) to sneak a peak into the “cookie jar” but  when we arrived, someone else already was already there. It was Phil Bair and a friend that wants to remain anonymous.

They were gracious enough to allow us to hang out with them and video two masters at their craft. We also had a great time exchanging fish stories while we waited for the hatch to turn on. It was a beautiful warm day and we finally didn’t have to work hard to keep our hands warm.

buffalo midges on provo river utah march

Buffalo Midges on the Provo River.

During the hatch, Phil fished single dry flies on top. He started with his “Phil fly”,  then switched to a black “shucker” then switched again to a brown “shucker”.

Phil’s friend fished a dry-dropper combination, but caught most fish on his version of a midge shuck (yes, he ties all his own flies) used as the dropper.

I also fished single flies on top and started with Jim’s version of the midge shuck and then switched to Jim’s BWO colored “noseeum” as the hatch progressed. (yes, I know… and I am learning to tie my own flies).

Jim took video almost the entire time and never even fished until the hatch was over. After the hatch, he rigged up a bounce rig and caught fish on midge nymphs, just to prove it would work (no fish caught on worms that day, but they will work farther downstream).

I don’t have an exact count of all the fish caught during the hatch, but it was around 30 fish.

emerging mayfly on water

Don’t tie your own flies? Phil can help (click photo).

We want to thank Phil and his friend again for allowing us (Jim) to video them (watch video below).

I also got a report from my friend Rod this week. Rod only had time to fish during his lunch break, but caught a 17 inch brown on a size 18 BWO down near Charleston.

What flies and techniques caught fish on the Middle Provo River in late February to late March?

We have records for 13 fishing trips on the middle Provo River (2014 – 2018) during that time frame and my notes say we caught 140 fish.

Catch Chart for Middle Provo River between Feb. 27 and Mar. 26 (2014 – 2018)

Technique Fly Fish Pcent
bounce or inline
sow bug 27 19.3%
P.R. worm 18 12.9%
midge nymph 13  9.3%
egg pattern  6  4.3%
BWO nymph  4  2.9%
Total under
68 48.6%
dry or
BWO shuck 24 17.1%
midge shuck 29 20.7%
midge nymph 13 9.3%
BWO 10   7.1%
noseeum/Phil (midge)
 9   6.4%
Total Top 72 51.4%

This report was published on March 12, so the dates include that date plus 14 days prior to and after.

Our per fish average for those 13 trips is 10.7 fish per trip.

Of those 140 fish, we caught 68 by fishing under the water with the bounce rig or an in-line rig and we caught 72 fish on top either fishing dry flies or as dry-droppers.

Midges are always hatching on the Provo River, and the Buffalo Midges hatch is definitely on. We have seen a few blue-wing olives and fish have been taking them as well as the midge flies.

For nymphing this time of year on the Middle Provo River, the sow bugs are starting to turn on and the egg patterns are turning off. Note that eggs may still work on rainbows that come up from Deer Creek for a while longer.

Also notice that worms (Provo River worms) can almost always be used to catch fish on the Provo River, especially after a snow melt, a rain or when high water is causing banks to collapse.

Remember that the term “shuck” is now being used to indicate an emerger or an empty shuck since everyone is familiar with the Phil’s “mothershucker” and the term “noseeum” for Phil’s noseeum.

The data in the Catch Chart show fish caught by technique and by fly, but does not show the total effort that went into each technique/fly combination. Other techniques and flies were tried (such as swinging soft hackles or steamers), but were not included if no fish were caught.

Flies to Use in Mid – Late March on the Provo River

So what should you have in your fly box the next few weeks on the Middle Provo?

Our Catch Chart for that time frame has nine different flies.

  • midge shuck
  • sow bug
  • BWO shuck
  • P.R. worm
  • midge nymph
  • BWO fly
  • noseeum and Phil flies
  • egg pattern
  • BWO nymph

Sow bugs and worms patterns caught a third of our fish in previous trips this time of year and midge and BWO shucks caught more than a third of the fish.

So we caught 70% of our fish on these four flies. So, if you fish them properly, you will catch fish with just a few flies too.

Lower Provo River Fishing Report

Note: we also fished three days on the Lower Provo River during this time frame (but not this year). About equal numbers of fish were caught bouncing sow bugs and midge nymphs and a few fish were caught on top with noseem type flies and Griffiths gnats.

See you on the river.

Want to Fish with us? Want to improve your fly fishing skills? Click Here to Learn More.

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

Watch our fly fishing videos here at Jim’s YouTube site.

Our new video this week is fishing the Provo River in late February. At the end of the video, Jim shows his fly box, so you can see all the flies we used.

Phil Bair at Provo River Buffalo Midge Hatch

You should Keep a Fishing Log

Check out 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!

Photo of midges and nymphs provided by Phil Bair


  1. Alex Argyros says:

    Very enlightening post, especially the statistics. Thank you.

    Could you tell me what, in your view, the advantage/disadvantages are of a bounce rig with droppers and an inline rig, especially when fishing tiny little flies like midges and BWOs? I’ve found inline to work better with me for the little stuff (for example, a midge larva trailing off of a larger fly such as an egg), but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    • Hi Alex. What you describe; “a midge larva trailing off of a larger fly such as an egg” sounds more like a dry-dropper set up than an inline rig (unless I’m not understanding your point).

      An inline rig has nymph on the terminal end, a small weight about 12 inches up from the fly and a very small indicator (float, bubble, wool) 2 – 3 feet above the weight…
      The dry-dropper doesn’t usually have a weight and uses a fly as the indicator or a small float if you can’t see the fly… (If you can’t see it, you really can’t fish it properly).

      For nymphing, the choice depends on how deep you need to fish and the bottom of the stream. If you need to get really deep (more than 3 or 4 feet), especially in fairly fast current, the bounce rig is best. You can use plenty of weight and big indicator to hold the surface.

      But the bounce rig needs a fairly consistent bottom otherwise you will hang up too much or there will be sections you can’t fish. The Bounce rig also doesn’t work well in areas where there is too little current or in back flows (the tags have to be extended).

  2. Alex Argyros says:

    That was really helpful. Thank you.

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