Provo River Fishing Report and Outlook for Mid May

big utah brown trout on dry fliesiSo many good places to fish this time of year.

Jim and I fished our outlying streams this week and hope to have some good video of targeting very spooky fish on top with dry flies.

Again, this was all on very bright days, but we found a way to use the Sun to our advantage.

You can watch the video near the bottom of this report.

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

This report was prepared on May 12, so the dates include 29 total days from April 27 – May 25 (14 days before and after).

We have records for 18 total fishing trips this time of year between 2014 – 2018. We fished once on the Lower Provo and 8 times on the Middle Provo and caught a total of 132 fish.

We also made 9 additional fly fishing trips to Strawberry Res., Strawberry River, Ensign Ranches and other places.

Catch Chart Lower Provo River April 27 – May 25

Technique Fly Fish Pcent
(bounce rig)

BWO nymph 11 55.0%
sow bug
 6 30.0%
midge nymph  3 15.0%
Total under
20 100.0%
dry or
Total Top 0 0%

Catch Chart Middle Provo River – Apr. 27 – May 25

Technique Fly Fish Pcent

or Euro
or swing
Sow Bug 55 46.6%
P.R. Worm 16 13.6%
BWO nymph  8  7.1%
PMD nymph  5  4.5%
midge nymph  5  4.5%
Total under
89 75.4%
dry or
Caddis 26 23.2%
Palmer Fly  2  1.8%
Green shuck  1  0.9%
Total Top 29 24.6%

We caught a total of 138 fish with 109 fish by nymphing (mostly bounce rig and light in-line rigs) and we caught 29 fish on top fishing dry flies.

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The majority of our fish (79%) 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 May on the Lower and Middle Provo Rivers

The water is usually starts running fast this time of year on the Lower Provo, so we usually fish the Middle Provo or the many streams in our outlying area. The midges hatches are a always constant and there is still a good mid-day (noon – 2:00 pm) BWO hatch.

Jim and I saw some newly hatched Skwala Stoneflies several weeks ago, but never fished them specifically. I talked to several anglers this week that reported good success with the stoneflies around the Bunny Farm (above River Road) area.

We have also reported increasing caddis hatches. With Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday and the warm weather this week,  the “Mother’s Day Caddis hatch” should be happening..

If you have been watching our hatch/catch charts (Middle Provo) you will notice that caddis have become more and more important the last few weeks..

To Lake Fish or To Stream Fish?

Jim and I saw fishermen in a boat fishing the shallows as we drove past Strawberry Reservoir on Tuesday. We drove down close to them to see if it might be worth while fishing from the shore. It’s always fun to catch a big Cutthroat on your fly rod.

They were quickly retrieving big lures and spoons as if it were Summer time already, so we didn’t get to see them catch any fish. The water is still very cold and the fish don’t have that much energy yet.

We decided to go to fish some beaver ponds on one of the nearby streams to see if the brook trout were still there or if the brown trout had grown so big they have eaten all the “brookies”.

We stopped at “The Ladders” to see if fish were coming up into the structure, but the water in Strawberry Res. is so high, the extended canal part of the ladders is completely underwater.

please pick up discarded fishing line

We tried to do our good deed for the day and picked up a double handful of fishing line left by other anglers.

Discarded fishing line (especially if it still has hooks) is very dangerous for all fish, people, pets and wildlife.

How is it possible in this day and age that some people still think it is OK to leave fishing line on the bank? There is a dumpster near the bathroom.

When fishing, camping, hiking or hunting, we are all supposed to leave the places we love “better than we found it”. How can we do that?

In most situations, we can make a place better by simply spending five minutes to pick up trash left behind by someone who doesn’t care about that place like we do.

That said, let’s get back to fishing.

Targeting Spooky Fish with Dry Flies on a Bright Sunny Day

Those big browns in the beaver ponds were easy to see in the morning light as they sipped midges from the surface. Jim did a recon on the entire upper end, but I couldn’t wait to start fishing.

I started casting from 30 feet off the bank so I wouldn’t spook the fish. They were still very spooky. These fish have sure gotten smarter since last year, but that is the only way big fish get to be big.

I managed to catch a few brown trout on top with “noseeum” type midges and BWOs, which I still feel is a minor accomplishment when fish are that spooky.

Jim returned with a report of some monsters (22 – 24 inch plus) upstream that would be fun to go watch, but probably impossible to catch.

While we were strategizing, a nice fish started rising a few feet from the edge of the water, so I was going to video and Jim was going to sneak in low and target that fish.

We have the whole thing on video. I believe it took Jim two casts to put the fly where he wanted it and the big 16 inch brown trout sucked it in.

As we taking a closeup video of that fish in the net, another fish starting rising a few feet off the bank.

I think we were low enough we were tucked into a little blind spot or the fish didn’t care we were there. I set on my butt and shot the video as Jim cast directly over my head to the fish. We have that all on the same video.

We caught a few more fish, then decided to go see about the big fish upstream.

There were 5 or 6 really big fish just hanging in the water column. The fish on the opposite side of the stream were supping very small midges or shucks.

The light and reflection was terrible for video, but we gave it a shot.

The preferred method would have been to cross to the other side of the stream and cast downstream to the fish, but we had decided earlier to fish from the bank and left our waders in the car. So Jim cast downstream and across the stream to the fish.

It was difficult for Jim to get a good drift because of the fast water in the middle of the stream and the fish would have spooked if he mended the line too much.

After several minutes of casting small “noseeum” type midges. Jim switched to one of his Palmer Flies. We have that on video too (watch video here) if the light was not too bright.

What a day. Incredible fishing in an incredibly beautiful place. And we only saw a three other fishermen all day. Two of them went straight downstream, so we only saw them on the road. After the other guy watched us catch a few fish, he came to see what we were using. Jim gave him some flies.

There are plenty of places to fish this time of year if you want to get away from the crowds.

And yes, the brown trout have gotten so big, the brook trout may be gone.

Don’t know where to fish? Want to improve your fly fishing skills? Want to do something special with out of town friends? Book a guided trip with Jim and Dan. Click Here to Learn More.

Flies to Use in 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 had only three flies for the Lower Provo and eight flies for the Middle Provo.

These were the most important flies for both the Lower and Middle Provo Rivers:

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

Historically on the Middle Provo this time of year, sow bugs caught over 40% of our fish in previous trips and caddis (dry flies) accounted for almost 20% of our catches.

Add the Provo River worm to your fly box along with some very small (size 20 – 22) midge and BWO nymphs, and that accounted for over 90% of all the fish we caught.

As I’ve mentioned before, we fish the Middle Provo more than the Lower Provo River this time of year, because water managers have to increase the flow in the Lower Provo.

If you plan to fish the Lower Provo, be safe and try bouncing sow bugs and small BWO and midge nymphs at the edge of the fast water.

Others are still catching fish on top with BWOs, but we saw few fish rising in the spots we fished, so we caught fish on nymphs and sow bugs with the bounce rig.

Also try using a drowned BWO after the hatch is over.

Big Stonefly Hatch Coming to Outlying Streams

I mentioned in a previous report that we screened one of our outlying rivers and were amazed at the numbers of stone flies we saw, so also prepare to fish some of those streams in June.

May Provo River Flows

The flow in both the Middle and Lower Provo has started to increase and will continue to increase as the irrigation season begins and water managers anticipate the Spring runoff from the snow melt.

Today, the flow out of Jordanelle is 325 cfs into the upper part of the Middle Provo River and since May 1, they been ramping up the flow in the Lower Provo. As of this morning, it is was running the same 325 cfs out of Deer Creek Res., but has been running at 450 cfs the last few days.

Since the snow pack above the Provo River is only at 17% for this time of year, the runoff will not be so high this year and any high water we do get will not last long.

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 stalk big rising brown trout that are rising in the beaver pond..

Early May 2018 Big Utah Brown Trout on Dry Flies

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  1. Brad Duncan says

    New to fly fishing, very informative.

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