Provo River Fishing Report Late October

brown trout provo river utah 10-24-17October on the Provo River is a time of transition.

The first day of Fall arrived on September 22 this year, but the real transition from Summer to Fall Fishing is about to happen soon.

I am referring to the fact that the afternoon PMD and the evening caddis hatches will stop and the brown trout will start to spawn.

Jim and I fished the lower part of the Middle Provo this week to see what stage the river, the bugs and the fish are in. We had planned to check the lower part of the river near Charleston first and then run back to the upper part to skitter for caddis with Jim’s new fly and new leader setup I mentioned last week.

Other Anglers don’t Mean the River is Too Crowded

But then we decided to go all the way to what we call the “Half-way Hole” and fish our way back downstream. It is a fair distance from the parking area, so going that far upstream automatically meant we had to abandon our plan to skitter farther upstream. Any skittering would have to be tested there above the railroad tracks.

Just as we arrived at our destination, we ran into a couple that seemed very concerned about other anglers (including us). Yes, there was another guy fishing in our hole.

We told them not to worry. There are plenty of holes for everyone and we promised not to crowd them. We also talked to two other anglers in the parking lot that also were looking to avoid the crowds.

Occasionally, a guide will park clients in a hole and stay half the day, but for the most part, people fish a hole for a short period and then move on. We talked to the fellow that was “fishing our hole” and learned that he had caught a small brown and a small rainbow on PMD emergers (but not in that hole). That rainbow was a sign the transition may be occurring.

We told the fellow we would eat our lunch and hoped to learn something by watching him fish.

By the time we finished out lunch, he had moved upstream out of sight, so we had the hole to ourselves. We did not see him catch a fish, so we didn’t learn anything yet.

We do what we always do on the Provo River when there is no obvious hatch begging to be exploited. I rigged to bounce with sow bugs and a PMD emerger and Jim rigged to bounce a different emerger patterns and substituted egg patterns for the sow bug.

Is Patience a Virtue when Fly Fishing?

A small PMD hatch started, but only the smallest trout seemed to be taking flies on the surface. It was a little surprising they were not taking our emerger patterns.

I talked to a fellow this week that after learning I liked to fish told me I must have a lot of patience. I’m not sure what he knows about fishing, but his experience must have been to throw out some kind of bait and wait for something to happen. Yes, that takes patience.

I do have patience when needed, but that’s not how we fly fish. If we have five or six good floats and don’t get a strike, something is wrong.

Drag-free Drifts and Adjust the Provo River Bounce Rig

First, notice that I said “good floats”, meaning “drag-free drifts” at the right depth. If you aren’t getting drag free drifts, you may never catch a fish.

The bounce technique is meant to bounce. If you are not bouncing the rig properly on the bottom, you may not catch many fish.

So it is a given that you must fish the technique properly, but what do I mean by fishing the bounce rig properly?

If the indicator is not bouncing, then the weights are not dragging on the bottom. That means the bottom tag is not close enough to the bottom and it also means it is moving too fast with the current. The current may be very fast in the middle of the water column, but it is moving much slower at the bottom of the stream.

You may catch a fish, but you will not catch the big fish. In that case, add more weight and/or lengthen the distance between the indicator and the weights.

If the indicator is dragging too much or if the bounce rig hangs up on the bottom too much, reduce the weights and/or shorten the distance between the indicator and the weight.

Reasons Trout May not Take Fly

What else can happen that prevents the trout from taking your fly?

If you are fishing properly and the bounce rig is bouncing properly on the bottom, the tags may be tangled or covered with moss. Check often and fix the situation.

If that is not the problem, maybe the fish just don’t want to buy what you are selling. So change flies or change the amount of weights or change the length of the rig, but change something.

So is patience a virtue when fly fishing? You may need to have patience when waiting for a hatch or you may need patience when waiting for someone to leave your favorite fishing spot, but fly fishing is an active sport. So no, patience is not a virtue.

If you are not catching fish and if you continue to do the same thing you may continue to be satisfied with not catching fish (no matter how much you enjoy being outside).

Remember the Henry David Thoreau quote; “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.

As soon as I changed the nymph for an egg pattern, I instantly caught a tiny little brown trout, but the larger trout weren’t interested.

Every time I looked over to Jim, he was changing flies. He tried a variety of different nymphs, but trout just weren’t interested.

Finally, I decided the only thing I could do differently was to put on a Provo River worm (AKA San Juan Worm). Several weeks ago we had great success with worms, but that was after a rain. I put on the only worm left in my fly box, which was one of Jim’s purple worms (see example in the video below).

I moved up to the head of the hole and on the very first cast, caught a very nice 18 inch brown trout. Now we were cooking with gas. After we spent time on the video and discussing tactics, I returned to the same spot and on the second cast, caught another trout on the worm. This was not an accident.

After spending more time on the video, we needed to re-recreate a casting sequence for either of the last two fish that were landed on video.

So I went back to the same spot and after about 4 or 5 more casts (all shown on video below), I hooked another fat 18 inch Provo River brown trout on the worm.

So what happened? I know Jim knows how to fish the bounce rig. But fish simply were not taking any of the eggs, emergers or sow bugs.

I don’t know why they took the Provo River worm, but the stomachs of those three fish (2 females and 1 male) were empty. They are preparing for the spawn.

As it got dark, we moved back downstream towards the parking area. We tried Jim’s skitter bug and got a few chases. Jim had a very big trout swirl behind his skitter bug, but didn’t take it and I caught another tiny brown trout on a black ant.

Rod caught rising fish using size 18 BWOs with 7x tippet just below the Jordanelle dam.

Changes in hatches usually start downstream and work upstream, so we learned that the brown trout downstream are close to spawning and fish are still slightly interested in caddis patterns. But the transition is near. Better get those streamers and egg patterns ready. And if you see fish rising you may still be able to catch them on top with BWOs or caddis.

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Fishing Report provided by Jim O’Neal &

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  1. Alex Argyros says

    Thanks for the updates. They’re very informative and much appreciated.

    When you guys fish nymphs on your bounce rig, do you use unweighted nymphs?

    • Yes Alex. The nymphs we use on the bounce rig are unweighted because we want them to extend away from the rest of the rig. From the trout’s perspective (always looking upstream), the nymph will be pointing directly towards them.

  2. What are good colors of egg patterns for the Provo River during the spawn?

    • James we primarily use orange eggs. And we use various sizes. Sometimes trout seem to prefer small (almost BB size) and other times they want bigger eggs. I will attach a picture of Jim’s egg pattern. We will also make a video to show everyone how to tie it. I like these egg pattern better for several reasons that we will explain when we post the video.

Comments, Opinions, Questions?