Provo River Fishing Regulations – Know the Rules and Protect our Fishery

hooks with live worm and artifical worm

Check which sections of the Middle and Lower Provo Rivers are Artificial Flies and Lures Only and which sections are legal to fish live bait.

Jim and I were fishing in the Lower Provo back in July and we found a large dead Brown Trout.

The fish was tangled in the moss by fishing line that was trailing from his mouth and evidently broken off and died from being trapped and/or from the large hook stuck in it’s stomach.

Big fish can break off when we use light tippets, but this fishing line was at least 20 lb test, so it was surprising the fish was able to break the line.

Fish can die from rough handling and from broken off hooks (and most of us could do a better job of handling fish before release), but the problem here was the line was still attached to a hook with a big gob of night crawler on it. And this section of the stream is “Artificial flies and lures only”.

A person fishing illegally killed and wasted a fish that belonged to all of us. What a waste.

Poachers or Ignorant Anglers?

Earlier in the year (March) at the exact same place, we watched a young man on the other side of the river catch a large (18 – 20 inch) rainbow trout.

He was very excited and was holding the fish by the gills to show his buddy. It was disappointing that he “rough handled” a fish that should have been released immediately, but I didn’t say anything until he started up the bank with the fish.

Two other fishermen were watching, and as soon as I yelled across the water “Hey… you can’t keep that fish“, the others chimed in and the anglers on his side of the river explained the rules to him.

The young man and his buddy acted as if they didn’t know the rules, but it seemed to us they were hoping none of us notice or wouldn’t say anything.

They were obviously embarrassed and stopped fishing and quickly left the area.

The only reason we all are able to consistently catch large trout in that section of the Lower Provo is because of the size limit.

Why the Provo River is a Premier Trout Stream

I worked for the Utah Division of Wildlife from 1997 – 2011 and helped survey the Middle Provo River in preparation for the stream improvements (Provo River Restoration Project) that started in 1999 and was completed in 2008.

The Restoration Project changed the previously channelized river to mimic the historic conditions of meanders and connected secondary channels. New constructed lengthened the river and created small side channels and ponds to provide additional wetlands and many riparian shrubs and trees were planted to improve wildlife habitat.

In the process, all of the private land bordering the river was purchased and is now public land.

Think about that for a minute; We now have 12.4 miles of public stream (measured on Google Earth; the main channel between the base of Jordanelle dam to the point the river drains into Deer Creek Reservoir; FYI elevation changes from 5,888 ft – 5,419 ft).

Those stream improvements and the current regulations have created the great fishery we enjoy today in the Middle Provo River.

When I worked for UDWR, I can’t tell you how many times I saw anglers fishing with worms or power bait in the “Artificial flies and lures only” sections of the river and this happened right in front of me while driving a state vehicle and/or wearing shirts and hats with the UDWR name and logo.

Jim and I constantly talk to other anglers on both the Middle and Lower Provo and realize that many folks don’t know the fishing regulations.

Most anglers we run into strictly practice “catch and release” fishing and only use artificial flies or lures anyway, so they are always legal on all sections of both the Middle and Lower Provo Rivers. But since they don’t know the rules, they are hesitant to call Utah DWR to report violations or to educate others about the rules.

Since Utah has Specific Rules for so many different lakes and streams, we advise everyone to learn the rules before fishing in any new area.

To Report fishing or wildlife violations call 800-662-DEER (800-662-3337), but if you can’t remember the number, it is on you hunting and fishing license.

You can also report wildlife violations by taking good notes, taking pictures and emailing them to

Or Report Hunting or Fishing Violations here.

The Fishing Regulations on the Middle and Lower Provo Rivers

There are two sets of fishing regulations depending on which part of the Middle and Lower Provo Rivers you fish.

See Page 39 of the Utah 2017 Fishing Guide Book (click here to download HD PDF version)

Middle Provo River Fishing Regulations

The dividing line for the different regulations on the Middle Provo is the Legacy Bridge on Midway Lane (SR-113 between Midway and Heber)

From the Legacy Bridge upstream to the base of Jordanelle Dam

  • Artificial flies and lures only
  • Limit 2 trout under 15 inches

Since it is not mentioned in the special regulations section, the Provo River below the Legacy Bridge to Deer Creek Reservoir (including Deer Creek Res.) has no special fishing regulations so the general fishing rules apply:

  • No artificial restrictions – bait fishing allowed
  • Keep 4 trout any size

Lower Provo River Fishing Regulations

From Olmstead Diversion Dam upstream to Deer Creek Dam

  • Artificial flies and lures only
  • Limit 2 trout under 15 inches

Since it is not mentioned in the special regulations section, the Lower Provo River between I-15 upstream to the Olmstead Diversion Dam has no special fishing regulations so the general fishing rules apply:

  • No artificial restrictions
  • Keep 4 trout any size

There are special regulations on the section of the Lower Provo between the Center Street Bridge (entrance to Utah Lake State Park) upstream to I-15, but they do not concern trout.

  • All suckers must be immediately released
  • CLOSED to the possession of walleye from March 1 through 6 a.m. on the first Saturday of May
  • No limit on northern pike. Anglers must not release any northern pike they catch. All northern pike must be immediately killed
  • CLOSED to nighttime bowfishing (sunset to sunrise) from the first Saturday of May through 6 a.m. on the second Saturday of July

Reporting violations and educating anglers that don’t know the regulations will help protect our fishery.

What else can we do?

There are many things we can do (subject for a later post), but for starters, make sure to pack out all your trash (including fishing line) and pick up discarded line when you find it.

We specialize in teaching beginners to fly fish. Click Here to Learn More.

Check out our latest Provo River Fishing Report here.

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  1. We are Map the Xperience, a professional GIS Cartography company currently working on a digital gps accurate map of the Provo River which will be in both paper format and mobile format for smartphones.
    Question about access immediately below dam on lower Provo. Appears there is campground which is private, but can fishermen park and fish immediately below dam?

  2. Gary Simonsen says

    this is very helpful. my buddy told me we weren’t allowed to keep brown trout 15 inches or under but we were allowed to catch rainbows over 15. I feel bad for keeping big rainbows but at least I know now

    • I wouldn’t fish anywhere in Utah without reading the regs…
      Your buddy is wrong (depending on location).

      Keeping a big fish is fine, as long as it is in the right place.

      Rainbows are stocked into Deer Creek and find there way into the Middle Provo. The Browns have not been stocked since 2003.

      We have been witnessing a big increase in violations lately. I report everything I see and know there have been a few citations (not nearly enough).

      A buddy recently reported seeing 10 guys keeping fish over 15 inches and took dozens of fish that day. We have also seen people fishing with nets. We all have to help report these violations if we want to maintain this fishery.

      Report Violations online here
      or call 1-800-662-3337 or send text to 847411

Comments, Opinions, Questions?