Provo River Fishing Report
Sept 12, 2017

brown trout provo river utah

Photo taken Sept 7, 2017

Last week was a mix of cool fall and hot summer weather on the Provo River.

We have to admit we are looking forward to cooler fall temperatures.

We fished the Middle Provo three times this week and the Lower Provo once.

The PMD hatch is still predictable in the afternoon, but there are fewer bugs coming off the water than past weeks. The caddis hatch is also smaller than a few weeks ago, but based on swarms of insects we saw in the lights last night, the caddis may be coming off later in the evening.

The good news about fewer PMDs is the fish are still hungry by dark and are really chasing the caddis patterns and black ants.

This time of year, the goal for most of our fly fishing trips (especially on the Middle Provo River) is for our clients (even the beginners) to learn to catch fish using three different fly fishing techniques; nymphing, swinging and dry flies.

Nymphing Techniques

We were able to do accomplish that goal again this week. By now you should know that on the Provo River we are almost always nymphing with the Provo River Bounce Rig. We caught fish again this week using the ubiquitous sow bug and various forms of Jim’s PMD emergers.

Again, the first step to fishing the bounce rig is to adjust it properly so the weights are bouncing on the bottom, but not dragging too much. The second step is to fish it with a “Drag Free Drift”. Everyone repeat after me Drag Free Drift!

We lost lots of gear bouncing this week. The high water this year reshaped some of our favorite holes and created some real hang up spots. But that is the price we pay to run nymphs past fish on the bottom because the big fish always seem to be on the bottom. The best advice we can give is this:

  1. Use many small weights versus one big weight because it spreads the weight over several inches of line and hangs up less
  2. Tie a knot above the weights – this creates a weak spot in the line so the weights can break off, but don’t loose the rest of the rig
  3. Or use lighter tippet to attach weights so weights can break off and save the rest of the rig
  4. Once you learned where the big hang-ups are located – try not to throw back there (easier said than done, especially when you know that is where the biggest brown trout in the hole is waiting)

Swinging Black Ants and Soft Hackle Flies

Swing black ants and soft hackles is a simple fly fishing technique. For beginners, casting is more complicated than flipping the bounce rig back upstream, but casting technique doesn’t have to be as developed as when casting dry flies to rising fish.

Basically all the casting technique needed is to get the fly out into the water without getting hung up in the vegetation behind you.

What is Swinging a Fly?

Swinging is basically throwing the fly about 45° downstream and then letting it drift. As it drifts, the line catches the current and pulls the fly back towards your side of the stream until the fly is straight down stream from you (called hanging down).

Vary this technique with various strips, mends and bumps (twitch the rod to cause the fly to jump; like bass fishing). Sometimes we strip the fly in before it reaches the hang down stage and sometimes after.

We also vary the speed we strip in the fly. Sometimes we strip the fly in slowly and sometimes we strip it in so fast you couldn’t believe a trout could catch it. But always let the fly linger in the water a few seconds before casting again. I caught two fish last night with this method.

Vary the mends, bumps and the stripping speed and take note of what works best so you have the best chance to repeat the techniques that work best.

Try casting and stripping several times at each place before taking a step downstream to fish new water.

It is a very good technique to use when it is too dark to see your fly floating on top of the water because when fished correctly, the line is tight and it will be obvious when a fish bites the fly. This technique also covers lots of water very quickly.

You can also drift a soft hackle or ant under a dry fly as a dry-dropper combo.

When should you Swing Black Ants or Soft Hackles?

A good time to swing soft hackles is anytime there is a big hatch going on, but fish aren’t feeding on top or you aren’t having success catching fish on top.

The best flies will be of similar color and size of what ever is hatching underwater. Such a fly drifted down and across the current is likely to get scooped up in the feeding frenzy happening underwater.

Black ants work best when it is getting too dark to see dry flies or indicators on top of the water. When it starts to get dark, think about what the fish can see. The water is dark, the bottom of the stream is very dark, but what do they see when they look up? Fish see a black ant against a relatively bright sky.

Fishing, Skating and Skittering Dry Flies

Casting to rising fish takes the most skill and also requires a relatively relaxed (straightened) leader. The fly must land quietly on the water without spooking the fish and then it must drift perfectly.

A Skating or Skittering cast doesn’t have to be perfect because the fly is going to be moved away from where the fly and the fly line originally landed.

Practice a combination of raising the fly rod and pulling out line with your free hand until the fly glides across the top of the water. That is skating. If you shake the rod at the same time, that is what I call skittering.

This week, very small (#18 – #22) PMDs were best for catching fish on top during the PMD hatch. Caddis (or various caddis mimics; especially Jim’s “skitter bug”) were best for skating and skittering.

The big crowds are gone. We saw very few people fishing this week, but the fishing is still very good.  See you on the River.

Want to Fish with Jim & Dan? Do you need some fly fishing instruction? Click Here to Learn More.

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

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

One of Our Newest Videos – About Skating Dry Flies on Utah’s Provo River

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