Provo River Fishing Report Late April – Early May

brown trout caught on tiny nymph provo river utah

16 inch brown trout caught on size 22 midge nymph (Click photo for larger image)

We fished the Middle Provo River once this week.

Jim had another commitment, so it was just me and Jimmy Blackmon (last week’s guest).

This time of year, Jim and I usually start exploring other rivers in our area so the number of trips on the Lower and Middle Provo goes down.

Then we (Jim and I – Mr. Blackmon had to work – poor guy) went to one of or secret places to fish this week (it’s not really a secret, but folks get mad when we reveal where it is). So I won’t tell you which river, but we will take you there if you want to be guided.
We also sampled insects in another of our outlying streams and what we found was exciting and bodes well for the stone fly and green drake hatches.

Warm Sunny Day on the Middle Provo

Our trip on the Middle Provo was on Wednesday (April 18). It was a beautiful warm and bright day with little wind. A great Spring day to be outside, but typically bright days make for tougher fishing. We started out below the railroad track to see if we could duplicate last weeks fishing (including the walleye).

Things were slow until about about 11:00. We had moved above the railroad track and started picking up fish on Provo River worms using the Provo River Bounce Rig.

Fishing was best in the deepest holes and everything (Whitefish, Brown Trout and Rainbows) all took worms. So as long as one of our tags (lower) had a worm on it, we caught fish.

Then as the midge hatch increased around noon, “everything” started taking the small midges (see photo above).

Jimmy fished fairly hard and I fished some just to make sure I knew what the fish were doing. Jimmy caught most, but we caught about a dozen fish, with about four of each of the three species mentioned.

Two of the Whitefish (as usual) were about 17 inches and two of the brown trout were at least 16 inches.

As my Eastern friends constantly remind me… We are spoiled.

My only regret is I didn’t try a sow bug, so we have yet to catch a fish on the Middle Provo this year with a sow bug.

Not bad for a bright day and we quit by 3:00 pm since Jimmy had things to do back in the world.

We never really saw much of a blue-wing olive hatch that day on that section of the river, so we didn’t try to catch fish on top, though a few fish were rising to midges.

Also, Jimmy is still perfecting his bounce rig techniques, so that was the main focus.

We also lost a few nice sized fish, which is typical when fishing with such small nymphs.

Hint: Check you hooks to make sure they are sharp after each fish (caught or escaped). Several times after losing nice fish this week, we noticed the hooks were dull. Check a hooks’ sharpness by seeing if will catch on you finger nail. If it can bite, it is sharp, if it drags, it is dull.

What flies and techniques caught fish on the Lower and Middle Provo River – Early April – Early May?

This report was prepared on April 21, so dates include that date plus 14 days prior to and after (29 total days).

We have records for the fishing seasons (2014 – 2018) Jim and I have fished together. During that time, we fished four times on the Lower Provo and seven times on the Middle Provo and caught a total of 99 fish.

We also had nine additional fishing trips to places like Strawberry Res., Soldier Creek, Strawberry River, Diamond Fork, Hobble Creek and Ensign Ranches.

Catch Chart Lower Provo River April 7 – May 5 (2014 – 2018)

Technique Fly Fish Pcent

or Euro
sow bug 25 55.6%
midge nymph  4  8.9%
BWO shuck  4  8.9%
Total under
33 73.3%
dry or
BWO  7 15.6%
BWO shuck  5 11.1%
Total Top 12 26.7%

Catch Chart Middle Provo River – Apr. 7 – May 5 (2014 – 2018)

Technique Fly Fish Pcent

or Euro
or swing
sow bug
19 33.3%
P.R. worm 12 21.1%
midge nymph  9 15.8%
BWO nymph  7 12.3%
black ant  1  1.8%
Total under
48 84.2%
dry or
BWO  4  7.0%
Caddis  3  5.3%
Palmer Fly  2  3.5%
Total Top  9 15.8%

We caught a total of 82 fish with 66 fish by nymphing (bounce rig, in-line rig or Euro/Czech nymphing or swinging) and we caught 16 fish on top either fishing dry flies or as dry-droppers.

We usually concentrate on catching fish first, then try to catch rising fish second, so the majority of our fish (over 80%) were caught on both the Lower and Middle Provo Rivers using under-water fly fishing techniques.

What to expect in Mid – Later April on the Lower and Middle Provo Rivers

The midges hatches are a constant on both the Middle and Lower sections of the Provo River and this time of year you can usually count on a good mid-day (noon – 2:00 pm) BWO hatch as well.

Start off nymphing with worms, sow bugs or very small nymphs. If you see fish rising, be ready with a second rod or change to dry flies quickly.

Want to improve your fly fishing skills? Want to do something special with out of town friends? Want to learn to fish one of the many other streams we have in our area? Come Fishing with us. Click Here to Learn More.

Flies to Use in Early April to Early May on the Provo River

What flies should be in your fly box the next few weeks on the Lower or Middle Provo River?

Our Catch Charts for this time frame has five flies for the Lower Provo and eight for the Middle Provo.

  • sow bug (finally starting to work on both sections)
  • midge nymph
  • P.R. worm (Middle only)
  • BWO fly
  • BWO shuck
  • BWO nymph
  • Caddis
  • Palmer Fly
  • black ant

Historically on the Middle Provo, sow bugs and worms patterns caught over 43% of our fish in previous trips (but still not this year! We still have not caught a single fish on a sow bug, but since worms and midge nymphs have been working so well, I forgot to even try a sow bug last trip.

On the Lower Provo, sow bugs, midge nymphs and BWO shucks have caught 84% of the fish (but still only one fish this year on a sow bug).

Over 30% of our fish on the Middle Provo were caught sow bugs and over 20% were on worms. No fish were caught on worms on the Lower Provo River, but we don’t try using worms very often in the section below Deer Creek.

For fishing on top, you will need midge and BWO flies and shucks (nooseeum type or cdc) and when fish are rising, but not taking your version of the midge or BWO, occasionally try a caddis or a Palmer fly. Also look for caddis hatch (Mother’s Day) early to mid May.

Our Secret River Trip

big utah brown troutOur goal for the secret river trip was just to see if we could replicate the success we had last year  (5 trips; 5 – 8 fish each trip; smallest fish was 17 inches).

The fish are big but they are spooky if the pools are too quiet, so it helps to have a good flow.

We sneaked into one of our favorite holes and no joke, I caught an 18 inch brown trout on the first cast (video will be available for next weeks report).

The fish caught the second hook in the tail, so it was one heck of a fight to land him. No doubt the hole was spooked, so we moved away for a while. We located some rising fish, but there was just no way to get to them.

We came back to the first hole after about 90 minutes and Jim hooked and quickly lost a fish on the first cast. It took a cast or two to get it to drift in the proper lane, but then Jim hooked and landed a heavier 17 inch brown.

Mission Accomplished. We left the pool alone for everyone to enjoy in the future. We saw two other trucks that day in the parking areas, but saw only two other guys the the time we were there.

We moved downstream and tried for a while to see if we could entice a fish to hit a streamer or a soft hackle, but no luck. But we know where and how to catch the monsters. And this spot only gets better when the flow starts rising.

Aquatic Insect Sampling

stoneflies, green drakes, mayflies and caddis nymphsWe took a quick sample at two places in one of our other rivers just before dark. We kicked up about 1 square meter of stones a gravel in front of a net and caught about a dozen stonefly and green drake nymphs along with a zillion big mayfly nymphs, caddis larvae and other worms and nymphs.

So if you have streams you normally get excited about fishing the stonefly and green drake hatches… Go ahead and get excited.

We look forward to seeing you on the river.

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

See all of our fly fishing videos here at Jim’s YouTube site.

Check out this week’s video where we fished the Lower Provo last week, just below Deer Creek Reservoir.

Fishing the Lower Provo Below Deer Creek Res. April 2018

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  1. You use 4lbs tippet with a 20-22 size fly? Why does it seem like the fish get spooked if I use that heavy of tippet when fishing a dry fly?

    • Good question Rod. We normally use 5X or 6X tippet on such a small fly, but sometimes we do use 4X, otherwise we have little chance of landing bigger fish.
      It is always a “balancing act” between smaller tippet which is more flexible and less visible, but weaker VS larger tippet which is stronger, but more visible and less flexible.

      We can almost always get more takes on smaller tippet, but always run the risk of fish breaking off.

      If it seems like fish are spooked, they probably are. Yesterday, we had lots of “refusals” (very bright day); fish turning away at the last second. Many of these look like misses, but as Jim says “Fish almost never miss”… They probably just changed their minds because they saw something they didn’t like.

      That could be an unnatural drag or they saw or felt the tippet.

      Also remember that the “X” factor on tippet material is an old number that indicates size. 4X originally meant .007 inch diameter; 5X is/was .006 inches and 6X is.005 inches and so on.

      Also check the test weight of your tippet. There are big differences between tippet materials. Just looking at the various 4X tippets I have in front of me now, the test weight ranges from just over 4 lbs to almost 8 lbs test.

      We can also get away with fishing small nymphs on heavier tippet under the water (bounce rig) than we can fishing a dry fly on top, especially on bright days where the tippet is visible.

      Your question about “spooked” also raises another issue. Streams that do not get fished heavily have wild fish that “spook” simply because we show up. Many of these fish will bite almost anything, but you will probably have to crawl up to the stream on your belly.

      In heavily fished streams like the Lower and Middle Provo Rivers, fish are used to see people (habituated). We don’t have to sneak up on them, but you better believe they know how to recognize less than perfect presentations. We like to say they have their PhD degree in fly identification.

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