Provo River Fishing Report and Outlook Early April

provo river rainbow troutWe have been hearing about the Blue-wing Olive (BWO) hatch on the Lower Provo River, so Jim and I met early yesterday morning (March 28th) to make sure we got the spot we wanted.

Seems like there is always an early bird in the best spots, but he was happy to let us fish with him.

This week, I’m going to start the fishing report with the catch charts, then tell the fish story.  We took lots of good video, so when Jim gets a chance to finish editing, the video will also tell the story.

What flies and techniques caught fish on the Lower and Middle Provo River – Mid March to Mid April?

We have records for 5 days on the Lower Provo and 11 fishing trips on the middle Provo River (2014 – 2018).

During that time frame we caught 63 fish on the Lower Provo and 103 on the Middle Provo.

Catch Chart for Lower Provo River Mar. 16 – Apr. 13 (2014 – 2018)

Technique Fly Fish Pcent

or Czech
sow bug 20 31.7%
midge nymph 11 17.5%
PMD nymph  6  9.5%
Total under
53 84.1%
dry or
BWO  6  9.5%
midge shuck
 2  7.1%
midge  1  1.6%
grifiths gnat
 1  1.6%
Total Top 10 15.9%

Catch Chart for Middle Provo River – Mar. 16 – Apr. 13 (2014 – 2018)

Technique Fly Fish Pcent

or Czech
P.R. worm 31 30.4%
sow bug 21 20.6%
BWO nymph 20 19.6%
midge nymph 11 10.8%
Total under
83 81.4%
dry or
BWO 11 10.8%
BWO shuck  7   6.9%
midge shuck  1  1.0%
Total Top 19 18.6%

This report was prepared on March 30, so the dates include that date plus 14 days prior to and after that date; 29 days total.

Of those fish, we caught 136 fish by fishing under the water with the bounce rig, in-line rig or Czech nymphing and we caught 29 fish on top either fishing dry flies or as dry-droppers.

The majority of our fish (over 80%) were caught during this time on both the Lower and Middle Provo Rivers using under-water techniques.

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

Midges are always hatching on the Provo River and the Blue-wing olives have started hatching on the Middle Provo, but there is definitely a BWO hatch now on the Lower Provo.

It is interesting that the fish have not turned on to sow bugs yet. We didn’t catch a single fish (or heard that any one else did either) on a sow bug. If you did, let us know.

So if the fish aren’t hitting sow bugs, fishing is tough early in the morning before the BWO hatch. There was a midge hatch on the Lower Provo and we did catch a few under the water on midge and BWO nymphs, but it was slow.

Another interesting thing, is the fellow we fished with (Dan; “from Sandy via Montana”) caught quite a few fish (I estimate 6) on a split case PMD nymph (bounce rig) during the BWO hatch.

We are months away from a PMD hatch, but it was obviously getting their attention. A good lesson about not being afraid to experiment if the fly you are using isn’t catching fish.

Hint: We constantly remind people to check their nymphing rigs often.

If you have 5 or 6 good drifts and don’t get a bite, something is usually wrong.

Check for tangles or moss or maybe the fish just don’t want the fly you are selling.

Change nymphs often; try different sizes & colors.

Apparently what happened was the BWO hatch began and fish got turned on to taking nymphs and emergers under the water and that is when we started catching fish on the nymphs.

When fish actually started rising to take emergers just under the surface, we switched to fishing dry flies. All of our fish caught on top yesterday were on dry flies only (midges/noseeum, BWO and BWO shucks), none were caught on droppers. I did try fishing a dropper for a short time after the main hatch was over, but no luck.

Also notice that in the Mid March to Mid April time frame, we haven’t caught any fish on egg patterns. Earlier in the year, the catch (nymphing) is dominated by egg patterns. This is partly due to the fact we stop fishing egg patterns this time of year, but that is because they stop working.

Signs of Spring on the Provo River

So we have had a great buffalo midge hatch with a few BWOs on the Middle Provo and there is a good BWO hatch on the Lower Provo. Can we say Spring has arrived?

I am going to hold off until the sow bugs wake up. Then fishing under the water will be more consistent before and after the main hatches.

In past years, almost a third of our fish were caught on sow bugs (both Lower and Middle Provo) and many of our biggest fish are caught also caught on sow bugs.

Yesterday Jim and I caught a little more than a dozen fish, but all the fish we caught were nice size between 15 – 18 inches. We hooked but lost a few very nice fish as it typical of the Lower Provo.

Dan (from Sandy via Montana) caught about a dozen fish, but he was an iron man. I took lots of breaks from fishing especially in the morning when it was slow and Jim and I always spend lots of time with the video, but the iron man fished the entire time.

Flies to Use in Mid March to Mid April on the Provo River

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

Our Catch Charts for that time frame have eight flies for the Lower Provo and seven for the Middle Provo.

  • P.R. worm (Middle only)
  • sow bug
  • BWO nymph
  • BWO fly
  • midge nymph
  • midge shuck
  • BWO shucks
  • PMD nymphs (Lower only)
  • grifiths gnat (Lower only)

On the Middle Provo, sow bugs and worms patterns caught 50% of our fish in previous trips (but not this year! No sow bugs yet).

On the Lower Provo, sow bugs and midge & bwo nymphs catch 75% of the fish (but not this year! No sow bugs on Lower Provo yet either).

Note that almost a third of our fish on the Middle Provo have been caught on worms, but no fish were caught on worms on the Lower Provo in previous trips.

(But you better believe some fish are illegally caught on live worms and removed).

For fishing on top, you will need a BWO fly and shuck at both places this time of year.

We always use CDC or noseeum type BWO flies. What does matter is that you fish them properly and that includes keeping dry flies dry so they float high on the water and cast so they land quietly on the water and mend to get drag-free drifts. Use dressing and powder on hair flies, but only use powder on CDC feathers.

We look forward to seeing you on the river.

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

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

Last week’s video with Phil Bair catching fish on top with his “Phil Fly” during the buffalo midge hatch .

Phil Bair at Provo River during Buffalo Midge Hatch

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