Provo River Fishing Report
Feb 4, 2018

backcountry adventures fly fishing Provo River Utah

Mike, Dan and Jim talk about fishing at the end of the day.

Jim and I fished the Middle Provo River twice last week on Jan. 30th and Feb. 2nd. What can I say about this crazy warm weather, except that it has been crazy warm.

We have concentrated on fishing the lower part of the Middle Provo River the last few weeks because there are usually lots of big fat rainbows that come up from Deer Creek Reservoir.

We have seen few big rainbows this Winter, but there have been plenty of 12 -14 inch rainbows (42,000+ 10.5 inch rainbows stocked in Deer Creek Res. on 11/1/2017) on the lower part of the river.

We scouted and fished in preparation for a guide trip. We had a good idea of what to expect on the lower part of the Middle Provo, but decided to see what was happening on the upper part of the river since it has been several weeks since we’ve fished there.

Upper Part of Middle Provo River

We met a relatively new fly fisherman named Grant, who is also also new to our area. While we were going through our normal progression of flies and techniques to see what would work, we kept noticing that Grant was slowly but consistently catching a few fish.

After talking with him, he told us another angler had helped him on a previous trip and showed him how to rig (no surprise; Provo River bounce rig) and showed him some very small (size 22 – 26) midge nymphs that were working. Grant has learned to tie the small flies and was having some success with them (A very good start to a new retirement – congrats!).

He had more success than we did with the normal egg patterns, sow bugs and SJ/PR worms (our standard Winter flies when we don’t see a hatch).

We had tried a few small nymphs, but had not gone super small until we talked to Grant. Jim had to dig down in his pack, but found a fly box with some size 22 and 24 nymphs he tied last Winter. After switching to the small nymphs, we caught a few brown trout but most of the fish were coming out of the same deep hole that Grant was fishing.

About 1:00 pm fish started rising to a midge hatch (mostly taking emergers near the top of the water) and we caught a few on the tiny nymphs when we fished them with a dry fly as an indicator and the nymph as a dropper (3 foot  drop of 7X tippet). That was fun, but it didn’t last long.

Another fisherman fished the other side of the river the entire time we were there. He had some success using small no-seeums.

So, for the upper part of the Middle Provo River, fish can be caught on top with very small nymphs or flies. But don’t expect to do well unless you fish them properly and that means a near perfect drag-free drift.

Lower Part of Middle Provo River

On Feb. 2nd, we guided Mike from New Jersey (actually from just outside of Philly, so I know he is a happy guy today – Go Eagles!) on the lower part of the Middle Provo. We decided to take him there instead of farther upstream because we thought the fishing would be easier and more consistent based on what we had found on previous fishing trips.

Plus, my friend Rod told me he caught a few fish on sow bugs a few days earlier and that is usually a sign that the fishing (especially for white fish and brown trout) was going to pick up. There were lots of anglers out that morning, so we walked about a half way upstream towards Memorial Bridge before we started fishing.

It was already above freezing, so it was almost like being out on a Spring morning except our migrant birds aren’t back from Mexico and points South yet.

Since Mike was not familiar with our Provo River bounce rig, we spent a few minutes showing him how to rig and fish, then tied on an egg pattern and a sow bug and fully expected that he was going to catch fish one after another. But fishing was slow.

We changed nymphs often, but the fishing did not pick up. Sometimes Jim or I have to demonstrate to show a client that fish are biting, they just need to work on mending or setting the hook faster, but I wasn’t catching fish either.

Hint: If you aren’t catching fish, check your rig often. If you have five or six good drifts through the section of water you are trying to fish without any hits, something is wrong. Check for moss, check for tangles or change flies.

Finally, Jim put on a size 26 nymph and Mike caught his first Provo River brown trout. We thought that was going to be the answer, but that seemed to be the only fish in the hole.

We have seen this before. For whatever reason, it seems like you can catch one fish in each deep hole, they tell their buddies after you release them and it’s over. I don’t really believe that is what happens, but maybe it does disturb the hole; we’ve seen it happen many times during the Winter months.

We decided to start moving more often and started down steam. We went back to using egg patterns and Provo River worms and we started picking up a few brown trout, then some rainbows as we got closer to Deer Creek.

I am going to brag on Mike. He fished solid from about 11:30 until about 3:00 with only a few fish to show for it. Many folks lose interest by then, but he hung in there until we found the right combination. He also got better at mending and recognizing strikes, which is also a necessary part of the right combination.

Mike also reminded us that we are spoiled here on the Provo River. We don’t usually have to work that hard to catch a few fish. Mike comes from a place where fishing for trout is almost always tough. My friend Barry from N.C. has already watched the video and said “I think anyone would take that for a SLOW day… Slow day around here means a skunking“.

Yes, we are spoiled. We have a good river with great access and we can fish year round.

Mike continued to fish almost until dark and by my unofficial tally, caught about a dozen fish, with the largest being a 15 inch brown. Another thing, he didn’t hang up, get tangled or lose a single fly all day long. I don’t think I have ever done that.

I am sure there are some Pennsylvania trout that are going to be fooled by a Provo River bounce rig in the future.

So until the Buffalo Midge hatch starts, on the lower part of the Middle Provo, the best bet is bouncing egg and worm patterns. The eggs will stop working in another week or so and the sow bugs will start working gain.

For you folks that only want to catch fish on top, try a dry-dropper with very very small nymphs or fish very small flies on top.

Six More Weeks of Winter?

I don’t care if that eastern groundhog saw his shadow or not, Spring is coming and so are Buffalo Midges and Blue-wing Olives.

See you on the river.

Want to Fish with Jim & Dan? Want to learn to catch fish in the Winter? Want to learn to use the Provo River Bounce Rig? Click Here to Learn More.

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

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

Here is the video we took with Mike this week:

Winter Fly Fishing Provo River

Comments, Opinions, Questions?

*