Provo River Fishing Report and Outlook Late April – Mid May

utah brown troutWe fished the Middle Provo River twice this week on two of the warmest and brightest days so far this year. Such bright days usually indicate the fishing could be tough.

Fishing on top was a little tough, but fishing under the water was as good as anyone could hope for.

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

This report was prepared on April 29, so the dates include 29 total days from April 15 – May 13 (14 days before and after).

We have records for 22 total fishing trips this time of year between 2014 – 2018. We fished twice on the Lower Provo and 10 times on the Middle Provo and caught a total of 166 fish.

We also had 10 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 15 – May 13

Technique Fly Fish Pcent
(bounce rig)

sow bug 24 100.0%
Total under
24 100.0%
dry or
Total Top 0 0%

Catch Chart Middle Provo River – Apr. 15 – May 13

Technique Fly Fish Pcent

or Euro
or swing
Sow Bug 59 41.5%
midge nymph 22 15.5%
BWO nymph 20 14.1%
P.R. Worm 15 10.6%
PMD nymph  5  3.4%
black ant  1 1.0%
Total under
122 85.9%
dry or
Caddis 11  7.6%
Palmer Fly  4  4.0%
midge  2  2.0%
BWO  2  2.0%
Green shuck  1  0.7%
Total Top 20 13.8%

We caught a total of 166 fish with 146 fish by nymphing (bounce rig, in-line rig or Euro/Czech nymphing or swinging) and we caught 20 fish on top either fishing dry flies or as dry-droppers.

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The majority of our fish (over 85%) were caught on both the Lower and Middle Provo Rivers using under-water fly fishing techniques; mostly the Provo River Bounce rig, because we concentrate on catching fish first and then taking advantage of hatches and dry fly fishing second.

What to expect in 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 also usually count on a good mid-day (noon – 2:00 pm).

We didn’t see much of a BWO hatch on the lower part of the Middle Provo this week (or last week), so they may be winding down.

We did see the first caddis on the Middle Provo yesterday, so it looks like the “Mother’s Day caddis” could be early this year.

We have not seen any more of the Skawala stoneflies we saw several weeks ago.

The flow in both streams has started to increase as the irrigation season begins and will continue to increase in preparation to catch and control the Spring runoff from the melting snow in the mountains.

I do not believe the runoff will be anything like we saw last year (1600 – 1800 cfs for several weeks).

Fishing Bright Sunny Days on the Middle Provo this Week

Jim and I met early on the upper part of the Middle Provo (Thursday, April 26). We got there early to get the spot we wanted. No early birds this time except us.

Midges were already hatching by 9:00 am and a few fish were rising, but we wanted to see if our standard nymphing techniques were still working.

They were. Jim started catching fish regularly and I caught a few and finally we caught fish on sow bugs (first time this year on the Middle Provo). So I can now report Spring-time conditions on the Middle Provo!

When the Blue-wings started hatching, I started fishing on top with dry flies (midges and BWOs) and caught fish on both. I did not catch fish with a BWO shuck.

When the BWO hatch started, the fish stopped taking sow bugs, so Jim changed to small BWO nymphs and started catching one fish after another.

When the BWO hatch slowed, I went back to bouncing and again caught fish on sow bugs. Then fish started taking the small BWO nymphs and I believe we could have continually caught fish like that until dark if we wanted.

We were busy catching fish and taking video, but we do watch other anglers to see what they are doing from time to time. There were four or five guys on the other side of the river from us, but we didn’t see anyone catch many fish.

We were ready to help, but nobody came to talk to us until we were ready to leave around 4:00 pm. We know they saw us catch fish because one guy said that “you guys must have caught 50 fish today“.

I am never able to keep an exact count of fish on big days, but I don’t think is was anywhere near 50 (maybe between 30 and 40; I put 30 in my notes (and the catch table) to be conservative). We could have caught 50, but we took breaks and it takes lots of time to take video.

Yes, they agreed they should have talked to us. We gave them a few flies as we left, but I suspect they need help with the technique more than the fly.

Hint: If you are learning to fly fish, don’t be afraid to ask others for advice. How else are you going to learn? Most people were very helpful to me when I was trying to learn. In fact, that is how I met Jim. We are always happy to help people we see on the river.

Two Brothers Bounce the Provo River for the First Time

Yesterday (Saturday, April 28), I fished with two brothers (John and Ed) that were on a hard core fishing trip through Utah.

John lives in Wales and Ed lives in California and this was part of their semi-annual fishing trip together.

They had seen some of our fishing videos and wanted to squeeze in a trip on the Provo between a day of float tubing on Minersville Reservoir and a two days of floating the Green River.

They were most interested in learning how to use the Provo River Bounce Rig technique and John was curious to know if he could take the technique back to Wales to use on his local streams there. We carried extra rods to fish dry flies if we got the chance, but we concentrated on nymping with the bounce rig.

We met early (8:00 am) on Saturday at the Charleston fishing access area. There was only one other truck in the parking area. We started fishing below the rail road track using a sow bug and midge nymph on one rig and a P.R. worm and midge nymph on the other.

Fishing was slow at first, because it takes a while to get the hang of casting the weighted line, mending, managing excess line, recognizing strikes and setting the hook in the proper down stream direction.

So we basically thrashed the first good holes while they were learning the basics. No problem, we have lots of good holes.

We moved upstream above the rail road track and when they started putting it all together, they started to catch fish.

I called Ed “the whitefish whisperer”, because his first three or four fish were big whitefish.

I have mentioned this before and still have no scientific explanation. Some days on this stretch of the Middle Provo, you can stand in one place and catch a dozen fish. Other days it is one good fish per hole, then you might as well move on.

Yesterday was a mix. In some holes we caught only one and others we caught many fish.

At first, Ed was catching most of the fish and as brothers tend to do (even at 50 something), was teasing John about it;

Want me to hook a fish for you?” “Want to use my fish for a picture?

But then we moved to another hole and John suddenly put all the pieces together and caught four nice brown trout in a row while standing in one spot.

Towards the end of the day, we tried to recount all the fish they had caught and the most reasonable number was probably 13 or 14, with several browns in the 15 – 16 inch category and three of the whitefish at 17 -18 inches.

By the time we fished our way back to the truck, we added a few more trout to the total and I even fished a little just to see what was in a couple of the holes when the fellows took breaks.

I was pleased that both men felt they had learned a lot and had enjoyed their day on our river.

They were both surprised by two things; First, they couldn’t believer the extreme small size of the flies we use to catch big trout and whitefish and second that we didn’t see any other anglers on the river other than near the parking area or the rail road track (and this was a Saturday and the weather was beautiful).

I look forward to hearing how the Provo River Bounce Rig works on the Ebbw, Thaw or Taff Rivers in Wales.

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 Late April to Mid 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 had only one fly (sow bug) for the Lower Provo and 11 flies for the Middle Provo.

These were the most important for the Middle Provo:

  • sow bug
  • midge nymph
  • BWO nymph
  • P.R. worm
  • Caddis
  • PMD nymph
  • BWO and Midge flies

Historically on the Middle Provo, sow bugs caught almost 50% of our fish in previous trips. Until recently, sow bugs were not working this year (but they are now)!

Add the Provo River worm to you fly box along with some very small (size 20 – 22) midge and BWO nymphs, and that accounted for almost 85% of all the fish we caught.

We tend to fish the Middle Provo much more than the Lower Provo River this time of year. The water flow starts to increase and the best way to catch fish is by bouncing  sow bugs.

That is why all 24 of our fish in two previous trips were caught on sow bugs.

Obviously other people are still catching fish on top with BWOs, but we concentrated on catching fish on nymphs with the bounce rig.

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 video where we fished the Middle last week.

Fly Fishing the Middle Lower Provo River in April

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