Provo River Fishing Report Late September

jim's provo river brown trout

Jim O,Neal with another nice Provo River brown trout (7/15/2017).

A fly fishing client from Atlanta had to cancel last week because Hurricane Irma was headed his way and he couldn’t leave his family when they were expecting high winds and flooding. Bad news.

We haven’t heard how they fared, but Jason, we hope all is well.

With the free day (good news), Jim and I decided to do some exploratory fishing to scout out sections of the river that we haven’t fished since the high spring runoff. And we wanted see if the runoff made any changes to our favorite holes.

Cold Front – Good for Trout Fishing

Jim predicted fishing would be best when the season’s first real cold front came through, so we met at 11:00 am in the pouring rain on Friday (Sept. 15th).

We planned to fish the lower portion of the Middle Provo River between the Memorial Bridge and the “Heber Creeper” rail road tracks, which is about 2½ miles of stream and about a 3 mile walk.

As we got out of the truck and before we even looked at the water, Jim asked how I intended to rig up. He was testing me.

Trout will Hit Provo River Worms after Rain

If we did not see fish actively rising to PMDs, I was going to use a bounce rig (see Provo River Bounce Rig). And in the Provo River, we always start fishing with a sow bug on the bottom tag. We usually put a nymph of some sort on the second (and third tag if used), but with the rains, the most sensible choice would be a worm (San Juan worm; AKA Provo River worm).

Jim said that was exactly what he was thinking and he tied more worms that morning (purple) after looking in his fly box and realizing he only had a couple left. It’s a good thing too, because I only had one P.R. worm left.

It was a good day for a duck. We put on our rain gear and our waders and walked about a mile down steam to get past all the easy fishing holes.

High Spring Runoff – Stream Improvements

We were impressed by the changes the high water created. Silted holes have been blasted clean and there are new islands and new channels. New banks were exposed and the bank swallows that previously nested there were gone, but that is all the result of the man-made release to mimic a natural process.

Flooding helps to revitalize streams by clearing away silt caused by erosion and excess weeds and moss cause by eutrophication to create new habitats for fish food, fish and for riparian vegetation.

When we got to our first fishing hole I started fishing first because I was already rigged up while Jim started rigged his nymphing rod.

This hole had changed. All the silt on the inside bend had been cleaned out and the bank had been moved back on the outside bend. A big rock that had been connected to the bank was now protecting a small island.

It looked like a good place to fish, and I felt like I fished the hole properly, but I totally struck out; not a single bite. In the process, I had lost my only P.R. worm and was fishing with a PMD emerger on the second tag. Maybe that was the problem.

Favorite Fishing Hole Change by Flood

We moved down stream to one of our favorite holes. We found this hole had been straightened and deepened. After striking out at the first hole and then seeing this, we weren’t so sure we liked these new changes to the river.

Jim was ready to fish now and moved to the head of the hole. I moved below him to the center of the hold and adjusted the bounce rig to fish deeper. I had a couple of quick strikes, but  missed them. Jim caught the first fish (a beautiful 19 inch brown trout) in the head of the hole on a P.R. worm.

Seeing that, I begged a worm from Jim after the fish was released (actually I allowed the fish to escape before we got a good picture of Jim holding it – hope he cuts that video).

Armed with a fresh purple P.R. worm, it took about one cast to catch my first fish. It was a little guy, but that got the skunk off of me.

The action was so fast in that hole, I forget who caught the next fish, but I believe it was Jim. And that made 3 or 4 trout all caught on the P.R. worm.

As Jim says, “You don’t have to hit me over the head“, I removed the sow bug and put another P.R. worm on the bottom tag.

brown trout provo river utah trout

Fat Provo River Utah Brown Trout (7/15/2017)

After that, poor Jim barely got to fish. Since he loves the light created by the cloudy/rainy weather, he wanted to video every fish, so every time I hooked a fish, I whistled to him. He put his fly rod down and ran to grab the camera.

After filming, he would pack the camera away and as he was going to pick up his fly rod, I would hook another one.

Filming took more time than normal because the camera had to be protected from the on and off rain showers.

Jim also spent much of his time filming the Sandhill Cranes and Canada Geese that were constantly flying around in preparation for migration. I love hearing the geese honking and that rattling/bugling sound the cranes make. Those are sounds that tell us fall is coming.

We lost track of how many fish we caught (will have to check the video to know for sure), but it was one of those days that you should have been there with us. There is no telling how many fish we could have caught from that one hole if we actually spent most of our time fishing.

There was a short PMD hatch about 3:30 (very small size #22 – 24), but we kept catching fish by bouncing P.R. worms.

Jim had a dinner function to attend that evening, so we had to shut it down early. We packed away the camera and headed downstream.

We hit one more hole on the way to the truck and Jim caught another nice fish in the head of that hole.

We fished three of our favorite holes and were disappointed in one, we were elated with the second and don’t have enough data about the third hole.

Don’t have to Go to a “Secret River” to Catch Big Trout

For those that don’t know, fishing in this lower section of the Middle Provo is not limited to artificial flies or lures only. And since this section is also not limited to two fish under 15 inches, it gets lots of fishing pressure from bait fishing and from people wanting to take a fish home to eat.

Yet these nice fish are still there. But you better believe they are smart and to catch them you must provide them what they are looking for and you must fish it properly. We don’t have to go to our “secret river” to catch big trout.

We only ran into three other tough souls fishing that day. One guy was swinging a soft hackle, but we didn’t see him catch fish. The two other guys were fishing maribou jigs with spinning gear and we did see them catch fish. They were soaking wet, but were having a great day.

Jim was a little late to his dinner, but I don’t think he cared.

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One of Our Newest Videos – Big Provo River Brown Trout – Rainy Day in September

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