Provo River Fishing Report Early May and Outlook Mid May

big utah brown trout on dry fliesiJim and I had a good day on the Middle Provo this week despite the fact that the flow had just increased to 650 cfs.

We met at 10:00 am, but didn’t really start fishing until after 11:00. The water temperature on Thursday was 40°F.  Fishing was slow but steady and at first, we caught fish on sow bugs, worms and midge larvae.

We didn’t fish hard, but just enjoyed the day. We took time to help a fisherman from out of town. He basically needed to fish deeper and make his bounce rig longer, but wasn’t really prepared and had to use two small bubbles to manage the extra weight and length since he didn’t have any large bubble.

Jim and I moved back to the Cookie Jar to see if our local rattlesnake was there and to fish with another one of our friends. I was content to watch Jim fish and he quickly hooked a monster brown on a BWO nymph that got off because we had no way to hang on or chase him downstream in the fast water.

Jim quickly hooked another on the same fly and we did land that one. We called it a day after catching about a dozen fish. Our friend Jonathan arrived earlier and worked a little harder caught at least 20. He caught his on nymphs that imitate midges and BWOs also.

We teased Johnathan, because we never see him nymphing… but there was no real hatch so that was basically his only option that day. It will take a few days for the bugs to adjust the fast cold water before hatches are predictable again

Jim and I are ready to start taking people fishing again, but for now only if you have your own gear.

We have found it is fairly easy to stay 10 feet apart (and across the wind to be safe) on the river.

So we can do fishing lessons or guided trips if you have your own gear and can tie your own rigs.

As soon as it is warm enough for us to wet wade, we will start taking people that don’t have waders or fly fishing gear.

Otherwise, everyone stay safe and we look forward to fishing with you in the future.

Mike sent another couple of detailed fishing report this week and as always, I updated the charts that show our historic fish/fly data for this time of the year.

Middle Provo River Fishing Report

Mike’s Fishing report 5/2/2020 – Middle Provo

Fished the upper part of the Middle Provo River about a mile below Jordanelle Reservoir starting around 8:45 AM. (Lunker area) I set up at a hole where a faster current picked up from around an inside bend. Morning weather was fairly sunny and temperature was in the high 50s with a gentle breeze from the north. As I was setting up my rig, an angler fishing a slower current across from me caught several trout in what appeared to be a 45-minute span (I counted him landing at least 4). He was using an inline nymph rig with a small soft hackle and tiny pheasant tail. Things seemed to slow down for him around 10:00 AM.

I used a Provo River bounce rig that day with a 5x leader, 6x tags, and a size 20 sow bug, midge larvae imitation, and pink Provo River worm. I struggled to get my rig bouncing properly, as the current was quite fast and the seam where the faster current and slower current met had quite a few rocks, which I got snagged on quite a few times.

I caught my first fish around 10:00 AM with a sow bug and hooked a few others that I lost. My guess was they were primarily taking the sow bug, as that was either the fly that broke off, or, in one instance, the hook on the sow bug had a couple of fish scales when I examined my rig after losing one.

The weather reached high 60’s low 70’s about noon and was partly sunny with a stronger breeze coming from the south. While I was adjusting my rig, I observed an angler further downstream, fishing an open, slower, and wider pool, catching several brown trout. I took a break and briefly talked to him (from a far distance to practicing social distancing due to the COVID-19 circumstances).

The angler I spoke to was also using a Provo River bounce rig and mentioned the fish were taking small brown baetis nymphs. I changed one of my tags to an olive/brown BWO nymph and quickly caught a 16-inch brown and hooked a couple others between 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM, despite struggling to fish my rig properly in the current.

This section of the river was relatively crowded in the afternoon, but it was nice to see very good etiquette among the anglers, as they frequently agreed to switch places and were generally encouraging and helpful to one another. One friendly angler across the river who was doing well that day remarked, “We’re all in this together”, which highlighted the positive atmosphere that day

Around 1:30 PM, there was a fairly consistent BWO hatch, and I saw several anglers switch to dry flies with quick success. By then the weather was relatively overcast (could hear thunder in the distance) with intermittent gusts of wind from the south. I noticed a wide variety of insects appearing in the afternoon, including midges, mayflies (BWO), a stone fly, and terrestrials such as ants and pill bugs (pretty sure they weren’t sow bugs as they were rounder and didn’t have the tail segment).

Realizing it was too challenging to fish my rig properly along the faster current in front of me, I moved downstream slightly to where the faster current collected into a very deep, very slow pool with large rocks. Between 2:00 pm and 3:30 PM the weather felt like it was in the high 60’s and alternated between partly cloudy and sunny.

Drifting my rig into the slower pool during this time, I managed to land 7 brown trout which all took the BWO nymph imitation. I lost several others as well, and it seemed like I was hooking a fish on every other cast. Things slowed down for me after 3:30 PM as the BWO hatch seemed to subside and, by that point, I was fishing a bounce rig I had to retie (other one got snagged) that was probably too short for that pool. Left around 5:00 PM. Overall, I had a great time that day.

Dan’s note: I have already teased Mike about this, by asking him why he thinks fish are breaking him off? It is almost always the fault of the angler, not the fish. Hook set must be fast but gentle and don’t play them too hard… remember, Mike was using 6x (3 or 4 lb test at max – and that is before he had to tie knots) and size 20 hooks? How much fish can a size 20 hook grab onto? Not much.

Lower Provo River Fishing Report

Chris’s Fishing Report 5/7/20 – Lower Provo

Fishing was good yesterday below Deer Creek Dam. From 7:00 until 4:00 I landed 10 and lost 10 others. Most on soft hackle sow bugs. Some good sized fish up to 18″. Mostly browns with a few rainbows. No fish rising. Midges were hatching. Saw a few BWOs. At 2 pm the river rose quickly several inches and became unfishable and dangerous. I’d estimate it as over 1,000 cfs. It was back to normal 45 minutes to an hour later. Fishing was good again shortly after.

Other Observations and Reports

Looks like the flow on the Middle Provo is going to be like 2017 since the flow is already over 650 cfs in early May. Be prepared for flows to go over 1,000 cfs soon and it may stay that way for several weeks.

The Lower Provo flow has actually decreased from just over 700 cfs to 614 cfs today (May 9, 2020)

The Middle Provo is currently running about 630 cfs near Charleston

In the Lower Provo, flows over 600 cfs make some of the favorite places hard to fish, but Jim caught fish last week and Chris caught fish this week.

See the timing and magnitude of historic flows on the Middle Provo River

Historic Catch Data – Fly fishing Provo River

This report was prepared on May 9, so the dates include that date plus 10 days prior to and after for a total of 21 days (April 29 – May 19). I have data from 2014 – 2020.

During this time period I have records for 304 fish in 27 total fishing trips; 3 trips to the Lower Provo, 16 to the Middle Provo and also made trips to Little South Fork, Hobble Creek, Soldier Creek and the Strawberry River.

Since 2017, most of the fish in the database have actually been caught by our guided fly fishing clients and students, but Jim and I add to it like this week when we get a chance to fish.

Catch Chart for Middle Provo River Apr. 29 – May 19 (2014 – 2020)

Technique Fly Fish Pcent
nymphing
bounce

inline
or Czech
sow bug 68 34.0%
midge larvae 41 20.5%
BWO nymph 35 17.5%
P.R. worm 17  8.5%
caddis nymph
 9  4.5%
PMD nymph
 5  2.5%
Total bounce 175 87.5%
dry or
dry-dropper
caddis 11  5.5%
noseeum midge 10  5.0%
Palmer fly  2  1.0%
green shuck
 1  0.5%
BWO emerger
 1  0.5%
Total Top 25 12.5%

Catch Chart for Lower Provo River Apr. 29 – May 19 (2014 – 2020)

Technique Fly Fish Pcent
nymphing
bounce rig

sow bug 28 66.7%
BWO nymph 11 26.2%
midge larvae  3  7.1%
Total under
42 100%

For nymphing this time of year on the Middle Provo River, things have been very dynamic. Several weeks ago, all fish were being caught on sow bugs and midge larvae.

As soon as the flow increased, that turned off and we caught all fish on Provo River worms. (I did talk to anglers that caught fish on worms< but we did not). Now this week, we caught fish on midges, sow bugs, worms an BWO nymphs. As the water rises and banks start to collapse (or after a good rain) make sure to bring worms.

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 may have been tried (such as swinging soft hackles or steamers), but were not included if no fish were caught during the time period.

Flies to Use in May on the Provo River

What flies should you have in your fly box the next few weeks on the Middle Provo River?

Middle Provo River

Our Catch Chart for the time frame (April 29 and May 19) has 91% of the catch on six flies.

  • sow bug
  • midge larvae
  • BWO nymph
  • P.R. worm
  • caddis dry fly
  • Midge – no-seeum dry fly

Lower Provo River

Our Catch Chart for the time frame (April 29 and May 19) has 100% of the catch on three flies.

  • midge larvae
  • sow bug
  • BWO nymph

We tie all our own flies, but remember that common store bought flies like Rainbow warrior, Zebra Midge and Tung teaser are mimics for midge larvae and baetis (BWO) nymphs.

And you should never go to the Middle Provo without a worm pattern of some kind and sow bugs in your fly box.


Want to Fish with us? We can give fishing lessons during the Pandemic if you have your own gear and can tie your own rigs? Click Here to Learn More.

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

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

This week, I chose a video where we fished high water this time of year on the Middle Provo several years ago.

Big Provo River Trout on Tiny Flies

 

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!

Comments, Opinions, Questions?

*