Provo River Fishing Report and Outlook for Late July

big utah brown troutJim and I guided three times this week on the Middle Provo River and Jim fished a forth day by himself.

I didn’t actually fish much since we were guiding, but Jim sure got into them last night.

On Tuesday morning, we guided Scott above the railroad tracks, Wednesday afternoon, we guided Mark and his son, Alder and on Thursday afternoon, we guide our Contest Winner (free half-day guide trip for two); Jeremy Cunningham and his Dad, Mike.

We took some video with Mark and Alder and also with Jeremy and Mike, so we should have pics and video soon.

What flies and techniques caught fish on the Lower and Middle Provo River – Mid – Late July?

This report was prepared on July 21, so the dates include 29 total days from July 7 – Aug 4 (14 days before and after).

We have records for 38 fishing trips this time of year (2014 – 2018) with a total of 282 fish. We’ve fished the Lower Provo three times and the Middle Provo 16 times and caught a total of 194 fish.

We also made 22 additional fly fishing trips to Strawberry Res., several High Uinta Lakes, Smith-Morehouse Creek and other places in surrounding areas.

Catch Chart Middle Provo River – July 7 – Aug 4

Technique Fly Fish Pcent
(bounce rig or
PMD (split case) 36 21.4%
midge pupae 20 11.9%
P.R.Worm 11  6.5%
Green Drake 11  6.5%
sow bug 10  6.0%
soft hackle  6  3.6%
PMD Nymph  2  1.2%
Total Nymphing 96 57.1%
Swing soft hackle 33 19.6%
Streamers  7  4.2%
Total Swing 40 23.8%
Dry Fly PMD 15 10.6%
Green Drake 13  8.9%
Skitter (Caddis)  3  1.8%
Bicolor  1  0.6%
Total Dry
32 19.0%

Catch Chart Lower Provo River – July 7 – Aug 4

Technique Fly Fish Pcent

sow bug 14 53.8%
PMD nymph
 6 23.1
Total under
20 76.9%
dry or
PMD  6 23.1%
Total Top  6 23.1%

The chart shows our raw data, but doesn’t tell the whole story. If nothing else, this is the time to swing soft hackles or fish caddis on top in the evenings on the Middle Provo.

We caught 96 fish nymping (Provo River Bounce Rig) during this time frame, but the evenings on the upper part of the Middle Provo are going to be hard to beat for the next several weeks.

Last evening, Jim caught 22 fish swinging a soft hackle right before dark. At one point, he caught 7 fish (15 inches or better) in just a few minutes. Others were catching fish on top with dry flies, but since they were on the other side of the river, Jim wasn’t certain what they were fishing.

But since size 10 (about ¾ inch brown caddis were hatching, an elk hair caddis about that size is what you should be using.

When I asked Jim why he didn’t fish caddis on top, he said he was too tired and was on his way home. But the fish kept taking his soft hackle, so he obliged them. The fish didn’t stop biting, but Jim finally quit and walked out to the car.

Others were still fishing and catching fish well past dark.

Hint for fishing in the dark – I mentioned this before, but with the start of the late evening caddis hatch, it is worth saying again. Bend your barbs down when it’s dark. That way, you can release fish quickly and get back to fishing again. No more scrambling around for a light to see how to remove the hook. You will catch more fish and going barbless makes it easier on our trout too.

What to expect in Mid – Late July on the Lower and Middle Provo Rivers

The water is still running fairly fast on both the Lower and Middle Provo for this time of year. Today (July 21), it is s running at just of 500 cfs in the Middle Provo and 608 cfs in the Lower Provo.

So fishing the Lower Provo will still be tough except for deep runs next to the banks. The best places have been a little crowded, so we haven’t fished there lately.

For fishing during the day, the fast, cold water seems to have the fish moving a little slow. They are not in the fastest water, but are in deep holes and in the seams just off the fast water.

Our clients had most success with split-case PMDs this week. For those that also got to swing soft hackles in the evenings, they also learned how much fun that can be.

In the lower part of the Middle Provo, we had more success swinging soft hackles than fishing dry caddis in the evenings.

We saw others have good success (upper part of Middle Provo) during the day with very light bounce rigs and very small (size 22) midge pupae or very small split-case PMDs.

We fished with one of our good friend (Greg) this week (who can be found in his usual spot this time of year with his hand in the “Cookie Jar”) and he was having some success with a big stone fly with a dropper.

Jim had an amazing time last evening swinging soft hackles on the upper part of the Middle Provo, but said the right caddis on top would have been hard to beat.

Don’t know where to fish? Want to improve your fly fishing skills? Book a guided trip with us. Click Here to Learn More.

Flies to Use in July 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 lots of flies for the Middle Provo, but only sow bugs, PMD nymphs or PMD dry flies for the Lower Provo.

These were the most important flies for the Middle Provo River:

  • Soft Hackles
  • PMD nymphs (mostly split case)
  • midge pupae
  • PMD dries
  • Green Drakes (nymphs & Dries)
  • P.R. Worms
  • Sow bugs

We caught 53% of our fish on the first three flies. In past years, Green Drakes were also important this time of year, but not so much this year. Takes on worms and sow bugs are also down this year. But this July and (hopefully August) looks like it will be remembered as the year of the caddis.

So remember to take your head lamp and get after them while the caddis hatch lasts.

Don’t know how? We will take you. And as soon as the flow slows down and the water warms a little, it will be “Skittering” time!

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.

We took video this week, but Jim hasn’t had time to edit it yet.

Here is some video of catching caddis in the evening from last year.

Skittering (Skating) Caddis in the Evening on the Provo River

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  1. Jeremy Cunningham says

    I was the lucky winner of the half day fishing contest. My dad and I are new to fly fishing and were really looking forward to fishing with someone to show us the ropes. Jim and Dan were the perfect guides for us. They were extremely knowledgeable and taught us a lot. The fishing was a little slow but we still had a blast and learned a lot. I would recommend them to anyone!

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