Provo River Fishing Report January

Jeremy fly fishing with backcountry adventures

Jeremy fished last week with Jim and Dan

It has been a full month since the last fishing report. It’s not that Jim and I didn’t fish, I just didn’t get around to writing the report.

Jim and I have fished four times since the last fishing report. It has been cold, but it has been fairly productive.

There is No Bad Weather, Just Bad Clothes

A Common Norwegian Phrase says “there is no bad weather, just bad clothes”. We have fished when it was as cold as 8°F, but lately the temperatures have been getting above freezing especially in the afternoon.

One guy told me we were tough old birds. I don’t know about that, I just wear more clothes than everybody else. I am a Southern boy and I don’t like to be cold.

The key is to wear lots of layers. Wear more clothes than you think you need. You can always take clothes off, but you can’t put them on if you don’t have them.

If your body is warm, it can afford to send heat to your hands and feet. Wear an insulated hat to keep your head warm. Bring a towel so you can dry your hands after handling fish.

Back to the fishing report…

We fished the lower part of the Middle Provo four times since the last fishing report; Dec. 19, Dec. 28, Jan. 4 and Jan. 11.

Each time we fished in different places, but the results have all been similar. We caught about a dozen fish each day; mostly rainbows (not giants) on egg patterns or Provo River worms. We also caught a few brown trout each trip and we always catch a big whitefish or two.

Young Man gets Lucky by Falling in the Water

On Jan. 4th, we watched a young man (beginner fly fisher) fall in the water just as we got to the river. He was ready to call it quits and go home. We decided he should not waste his day off by falling in the water, so Jim and I teased him for a while, then convinced him to go into Heber and dry out at the laundromat or go buy dry clothes at the Wal Mart and come back. We told him where to meet us.

Jeremy came back warm and dry and wearing new clothes.

Hint: your waders will dry quickly if you turn them inside out and hang them in the Sun or blast the heat on them in the vehicle.

He learned quickly for a guy that has only been fishing for a few months. Partly because he didn’t have bad habits to correct. We spent more time helping him fish than fishing ourselves, but we get a kick out of helping people learn and fishing is always a group effort anyway.

By the end of the day he caught at least a dozen fish and for his payment for our help, we made him say a few words on the video. Jeremy was a good sport and he learned to catch fish.

Or at least he learned to catch fish when we rigged and adjusted it for him. That will be the real benchmark.

Here is the video with Jeremy and I will let him speak for himself (near the end of the video).

After New Years on the Provo River

When we fished on Jan. 11, we took Jim’s canoe. I wish we had pictures or video of that or the coots we sneaked up on, but we don’t.

We used the canoe to get to a particular spot, without risking our lives wading in the deep water with the cold temperatures. That was an adventure and we should actually try to fish from the canoe next time, but we simply used it to paddle up to the place we wanted to fish. We caught plenty of fish, but still haven’t located the monster rainbows that usually run out of Deer Creek Reservoir.

We fished across the river from a couple that quickly caught their limit using power bait. They were planning to have a fish fry for the whole family that night.

On a previous trip, we ran into another young man that was having fair success on a giant gray streamer. The streamer has a goofy name purely invented to make people take notice, so I will not use that name. We watched him land several smaller fish and one big rainbow (18 inch), so we know a few big rainbows are in the area. We saw him again the next time we fished. He said he continued to catch fish on that streamer until he lost it. I look forward to using Jim’s version next time

So the quest continues for the big rainbows. At least until the Blue-wing olive hatch starts. We think we know where the big rainbows are now because we have eliminated so many places where they are not.

Keys to Winter Fishing on the Provo River

The keys during the cold weather is to fish in slow water next to seams. Fish deep and fish slow. If you aren’t catching fish, you probably are not fishing deep enough.

Use the Provo River Bounce rig or fish on the bottom with an inline rig using small egg patterns and/or Provo River worms (AKA San Juan worms). Historically we have best luck with  sow bugs, but not until after the egg patterns stop working. If the bounce rig is not bouncing, you are not fishing deep enough.

But remember, if you have 5 or 6 good drifts without a strike, something is wrong.

Check your flies often for moss or tangles. Fish deeper by adding more weight and/or increasing the distance between the indicator and the weights.

Make these changes and change flies until you find the formula. But first, make sure you are fishing drag-free.

If you don’t know what that is, or how to do it, take a fishing lesson. It may change your life.

See you on the river.

Want to Fish with Jim & Dan? Want to learn to catch fish in the Winter? Want to learn to use the Provo River Bounce Rig? Click Here to Learn More.

Fishing Report provided by Jim O’Neal &

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

Here is the last video we took this week.


  1. I love how you guys help anyone in need on the river. Fly fishing used to be more of a rich mans sport and no one helped anyone so it’s nice to see how you want others to succeed in fly fishing. That being said I have a question?

    I often use the Provo River Bounce Rig and have a hard time replacing my dropper line when it gets too short from changing flies and other things. Would it be possible to tie a tippet ring on then tie my dropper line onto the other side of the tippet ring. That way all I have to do it cut the old drop line off and tie a new one back on the tippet ring.

    Do you think that would work? Or do you have a better method to use when my dropper line is to short and needs to be replaced? Thanks for your help.

    • Thanks Steve. Yes, we get a kick from helping people and watching them succeed. Plus the more everyone knows about fishing and the habitat and conditions required to maintain good fishing, the better off we will all be.

      First, when your tag gets too short for your fisherman’s knot, try tying a Davie knot. I use that knot almost exclusively now because I can tie it so quickly and it requires less line. Watch Video here The Davey knot starts at 3:38 and runs to 4:58, first shown with tippet (hard to see), then with a large cord so it is easy to follow.

      We have considered several ways to use tippet rings on the bounce rig to make changes simpler, but since we change out our tippet so often and get broken off so often we really haven’t tried it. I also hesitate to put a shiny ring near the fly. I’m sure you’ve had fish bite an bright colored indicator when you wanted them to bite a fly.

      But it is easy to create a new tag using a triple surgeon knot or a dropper loop knot.

      I know we have taken video showing how to tie these knots to make tags, but I can’t find them right now. When I do, I will add the link here.

      When you need to make a knew tag, you first have to decide if you can squeeze the new knot into your existing rig without making it too short. You need to have length above the indicator so you can move the indicator up otherwise your rig will be shorter than before.

      If not, you may need to add length to the bottom of your rig, which means cutting off the bottom section of tippet with the weights, adding a length of tippet and then re-attaching your weights.

      Then you simply make a loop,either with a dropper loop knot or with a triple surgeon’s knot. The loop only needs to be as large as the tag you want to create. Cut one side of the loop free and that is your tag. (You can also shorten a bounce rig that is too long by making a loop with either of these knots and simply cutting both sides off).

      You can also create a new tag by holding a new piece of tippet along side the main line of the bounce rig. Then tie these two pieces together with a triple surgeon’s knot. This works best when the weights are removed so you don’t have to pull the weights through the loop 3 times.

      That said, I would be interested in hearing about or seeing methods using tippet rings on a bounce rig.

      In some ways I think of this as “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but we should never stop looking for a better mouse trap.

      See you on the River.

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