Provo River Fishing Report and Outlook for May

big utah brown trout in netWe fished the Lower Provo River once this week on another nice warm, bright day.

Again, the bright day should have meant tough fishing, but not so.

Fishing on such a bright day was as good as anyone could hope for.  You can see the video near the bottom of this page.

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

This report was prepared on May 4, so the dates include 29 total days from April 20 – May 18 (14 days before and after).

We have records for 20 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 157 fish.

We also made 10 additional fly fishing trips to Strawberry Res., Soldier Creek, Strawberry River, Diamond Fork, Hobble Creek and Ensign Ranches (teach fly casting with High Country Fly Fishers).

Catch Chart Lower Provo River April 20 – May 18

Technique Fly Fish Pcent
(bounce rig)

sow bug 14  50.0%
BWO nymph 11  39.3%
midge nymph  3  10.7%
Total under
28 100.0%
dry or
Total Top  0   0%

Catch Chart Middle Provo River – Apr. 20 – May 18

Technique Fly Fish Pcent

or Euro
or swing
Sow Bug 58 45.0%
BWO nymph 20 15.5%
midge nymph 14 10.9%
P.R. Worm 11  8.5%
PMD nymph 5  3.9%
black ant 1  0.8%
Total under
109 84.5%
dry or
Caddis 11  8.5%
Palmer Fly 4 4.0%
midge 2 2.0%
BWO 2 2.0%
Green shuck 1 0.7%
Total Top 20 15.9%

We caught a total of 157 fish with 109 fish by nymphing (mostly bounce rig and light in-line rigs) and we caught 20 fish on top either fishing dry flies or as dry-droppers.

The majority of our fish (almost 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 May 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) BWO hatch.

We saw a few BWOs hatching on the lower Provo this week, but few fish were rising to them (in the spot we fished). All fish seemed to be feeding on the emerging nymphs.

We did not see many BWOs hatching last week on the lower part of the Middle Provo.

We did see caddis on the Middle Provo, so look for an early “Mother’s Day caddis” hatch this year.

You can see from the catch chart (Middle Provo), that caddis becomes the “Top” dry fly by Mid May.

Fishing on another Bright Sunny Day on the Lower Provo this Week

Jim and I met early on the upper part of the Lower Provo (Tuesday, May 1). We got the spot we wanted and only saw a few other anglers all day.

Midges were already hatching by 9:00 am, but no fish were rising and we only saw a few rise all day.

I started fishing while Jim set up the camera and was trying to record some bird sounds. (Yellow Warblers and Common Yellowthroat) were singing that day; first I’ve heard this Spring. You can hear Yellow Warblers and Song Sparrows on the video).

I started fishing with a sow bug and a small midge nymphs and caught a few on each. When Jim started fishing, he was using small BWO nymphs and was catching fish after fish after fish.

I was trying to help two local fellows learn to fish the Provo River Bounce Rig and was interrupted time and time again because Jim hooked a fish and I had to jump behind the camera. They were surprised the fishing was that fast. Just goes to show that fish almost always feed under the water (with or without a hatch).

Both of them also caught fish on the bounce rig using my rod with our sow bugs and Jim’s BWO nymphs showing it takes a combination of proper technique and it helps to have the right flies.

We caught about 20 fish total and called it quits. If you watch the video, you will see about half the fish we caught. Yes, we are spoiled. We even have video of us both catching fish at the same time… Nobody was on the camera.

We found Two Lost Boys from Tennessee

Just as we were taking our waders off in the parking area, two young fellows drove by, then turned around and came back.

I asked them were they lost or were they looking for a place to fish. They were looking for a place to fish.

Turns out they were from Chattanooga; Jim’s hometown. They were traveling across the West (fishing) and one of the young men had a job interview in Salt Lake the next day.

We gave them some flies and tried to explain the best way to fish this part of the Lower Provo River.

Jim had to leave, but I thought it would help if I showed them how we tie up a bounce rig before I left. Then I decided it would probably be worthwhile to show them the path we take to our favorite spot and it wouldn’t hurt to coach them for a few minutes, even if I just stood on the bank.

That is not an ideal way to coach, but I basically yelled instructions and advice to them until they started to get the hang of casting and mending. Then we worked on managing excess line, recognizing strikes and setting the hook.

They started getting strikes and I knew they were going to hook a fish any second, but I eventually had to leave before they caught a fish.

By the time I got home, they had sent this photo:

lower provo river utah brown trout
And this message:

“Thanks so much for helping us out today. It was awesome meeting you guys! We only landed one fish but hooked 4 more big fish that broke off! It was amazing. You guys rock!”

I think it’s cool when young guys think you rock. That made my day.

I look forward to hearing if Bryson got the job or not and also how the Provo River Bounce Rig works for Sam on the those streams back in Eastern Tennessee and North Georgia.

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 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 11 flies for the Middle Provo.

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

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

Historically on the Middle Provo, sow bugs caught over 45% of our fish in previous trips.

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 83% of all the fish we caught.

As I’ve mentioned before, we tend to fish the Middle Provo 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.

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 was running at 296 cfs out of Deer Creek Res. into the Lower Provo River.

I do not believe the runoff will be so high this year that most of the Middle Provo will be “un-fishable”.

Note: We continued to fish the Middle Provo Last year during the high runoff, but we did stay away from the Lower Provo until it was safe.

Watch Video of our Friend Rod catching a fish on Middle Provo last year (water at 1600 cfs)

Watch Video of Jim and I fishing high water (1000 cfs) last year in Middle Provo

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.

Awesome Fly Fishing for Trout May 2018 – Lower Provo River Utah

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