Provo River (and Surrounding Area) Fishing Report July 30, 2017

jim oneal with another nice utah brown trout

Jim with another nice Utah brown trout. Photo taken 7/27/2017.

I think we can finally stop talking about the high flow in the Provo River this year.

Yes, it is still higher than normal and it is definitely colder than normal this time of year, but the flow in the Middle Provo River flow has been nearly constant in the 500 cfs range for a week now.

And the Lower Provo was finally dropped to about 450 cfs, but I see it is back up to 545 cfs this morning.

The Lower Provo has been fishing more consistently, but the Middle has been producing some nice fish on top, especially just before dark.

We spent more time this week on other rivers, but have good information for the Provo River from our friend Rod.

He caught fish in the morning on the Middle Provo (you guessed it) bouncing sow bugs.

He also caught fish on top with a giant stimulator (elk hair caddis) during the day and on dark caddis mimics and black ants before dark. For those that don’t tie their own flies, try a Renegade.

Another fisherman told us he was able to catch fish by skating caddis on top of the water, but we didn’t personally see the fish; only heard the fish story.

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Fishing Other Tailwaters in our Area

We fished other streams this week (both tailwaters and natural streams) and this is what we found (information also relevant for the Provo River).

We bounced sow bugs in the tail waters (early morning) but fishing was slow because there was no hatch early. Then a sparse PMD (Pale Morning Dun) mayfly hatch started about noon and the trout got more active. Why? Because the relatively cold 52°F water warms just up a bit under the hot midday sun and produces a sparse hatch.

With the hatch, fish become more alert and look for food and so we have a better chance they will come to artificial flies. The fly needs to be a pattern they will accept, like a sow bug, PMD nymph, PMD emerger, or in contrast try a big grass hopper.

Note that we mentioned the PMD hatch, but haven’t talked about fishing PMD dry flies yet. If the trout are actively coming up to feed on PMDs, then it should be obvious to fish the surface with PMDs, but an emerger pattern usually works better. Yes, it’s more difficult to fish correctly, but the extra effort pays off in more hook-ups and fewer refusals.

Fishing Natural Steams

In the natural streams most of the big hatches are over now. Daytime fishing is best with patterns like ants, beetle, hoppers, etc. In the deeper pools, try a very small worm pattern, not because worms are being washed into the water, but because types of aquatic worms live there.

More land insects tend to fall into the stream during hot windy times; that’s the best situation to fish drys in the smaller streams. It would seem that evening or early morning with low light intensity would be a better time, but unless there’s a caddis hatch, the fishing gets tough.

Small Streams Vs. Large Streams

Wild trout get spooky at low light in the confined the spaces of little creeks (that’s when mink look for dinner). In bigger water (like the Provo), trout actually become less cautious and are looking up for food. Try skating a caddis imitation, drifting a caddis emerger, or swinging a soft hackle (this is a good option when it it too dark to see your fly).

Also remember that fish in small streams are very wild and you will have to approach in stealth mode. Fish in heavily fished waters like the Provo are not as afraid of people. They see people all the time, but you better believe they are well educated about artificial flies. It takes proper technique to fool these fish into biting a fly. In contrast, wild fish on smaller streams may have never seen an artificial fly, so they may jump on anything you can present to them (providing you don’t spook them).

The Tippet Material Size Trade-Off

There is always a trade-off when we choose which tippet to use. Lightweight tippet (6X) will get more hits, but then there is little chance to land big fish. We lost (broke off) some very big fish (big meaning 24 inches) this week on 5X tippet, but landed fish as big as 22 inches on 3X.

Rod had several nice fish break off using 5X on the Middle Provo, including one last night that got downstream from him in fast water. That size tippet is usually a good balance on the Provo because the fish are leader shy and 5X can hold the average fish.

Hope to see everyone at the Heber Valley Fly Fishing Festival August 11 -12 at Hamlet Park in Midway (just uphill from the Legacy Bridge).

Fishing Report provided by Jim O’Neal & BackcountryChronicles.com

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