Fly Fishing the Provo River

  I recently had the opportunity to get out on the Lower Provo River just outside of Provo Utah and do a little fly fishing. Not knowing the area and having limited time to fish, I sought the help of a local guide. After scouting the internet for local guides and reading reviews, I contacted Rocky Mountain Outfitters and booked a trip.  What a great decision that turned out to be.

  I met up with my guide Andrew at 1045 and after a quick fitting of waders and boots we were off to our location on the river. Andrew asked me if I wanted to catch a lot of fish on dry flies, or take a chance of maybe catching some bigger fish on nymphs with a possibility of a midge hatch later in the day. It wasn’t a hard decision for me to make, I’ll take quality over quantity any day of the week.  With that, we were off and about 15 minutes later arrived at our spot on the middle Provo River.

  It was 18 degrees outside whenever we stepped out of the truck, but as beautiful as this place was I did not care if I spent the entire afternoon freezing to death in a fishless river. Thankfully though, that was not going to be a problem for us.  On the very first cast of the outing a 15-16 inch brown trout (my first one ever) ate my fly (size 18 sow bug) and Andrew examined the contents of his stomach and it was empty. I knew at that moment, this was going to be one of those trips I’ll never forget. 

  After examining the contents of his stomach and a quick picture he was released to fight another day. On the Provo River, you are allowed to keep two brown trout under 15 inches which meant this one was too big to keep.  I don’t consider that a bad problem to have, and certainly not a bad one for my first.  A few casts later, I was hooked up again. This time with a bigger fish. It immediately ran upriver and felt a little different than my first. After a few minutes of finessing him on the 3 wt and super light tippet, Andrew scooped the net under a nice rainbow. I’ve caught rainbows before, but this one was my largest to date. 

  With an enourmous head for such a short body, we speculated that this was likely an old fish and on the decline. Regardless, it was a beautiful specimen and I felt fortunate to have tricked it into biting with a fly.  In less than 20 minutes time, I had already experienced why the Provo River is truly a world class fly fishery and had already begun making plans to come back and fish it again.  The day wasn’t over though, there was still three and a half hours of fishing time remaining. 

 I was still working the same seem that we started out on when a big fish slammed my fly and shot down stream like a rocket. After 5 minutes of give and take with not end in sight, I got a little testy and decided to see how much pressure I could pressure I could apply to the fish. This proved to be a bad move as I ended up pulling the hook on the biggest fish of the day. Yeah I know, the big one always gets away.  Slightly disappointed, I didn’t let it get me down. After all, that’s what keeps us going back right?  After ten to fifteen minutes of no other fish, we made a move upriver about 20 yards and on the second cast stuck another fish. 

  Over the next two and a half hours we worked back and forth in a hundred yard stretch of river and ended up finishing the day with 18 beautiful trout. Of those, only one of them would have been a legal fish to keep, which meant I landed 17 trout over 15 inches.  

  Through the course of the day, the size 18 sow bug was the clear winner on what the fish wanted.  As the day warmed up Andrew noticed a small midge hatch and rigged me up with one and it produced a couple of fish, but they weren’t keyed on midges like they were sow bugs so it didn’t take long to switch back.  I was using what is commonly referred to as a Provo River Bounce rig, which is basically a strike indicator with two droppers for the flies and some split shot added at the end for weight. The idea is to cast the rig upstream and allow it to float down. I will add that this rig is best presented with short casts or a roll cast.  Mend your line as it gets even with you in the stream and fish it all the way through. Many of the bites were nearly undetectable, but there were a few that just slammed it. Towards the ends of the day I got on a streak where the fish were biting at the end of the drift on the “rise”. Essentially striking as I went to lift the fly out of the water to make another cast. During this time, I lost far more fish than I landed, but it provided for a lot of excitement as these fish were very acrobatic after the strike and initial hookup. 

  If you ever find yourself near Provo Utah, I highly recommend checking out this Blue Ribbon fishery.  For a guide, I enthusiastically recommend Rocky Mountain Outfitters.  http://www.flyfishinginutah.com/. Ask to fish with Andrew, but if he’s not available, I am confident that any of their other Orvis Endorsed Guides will take just as good of care of you.  You will have to purchase a state fishing license, but at $24 for three days it is well worth it.  I have already forgotten about the cold temps, but will never forget the experience of fishing the Provo River. Tight lines. 

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Time to get your boat ready for the season

  1. It’s been a long cold winter and you’ve been cooped up inside trying to stay warm. Meanwhile, your boat has sat in storage unused for the last several months. Hopefully when the time is right and you’re finally able to make it out to the water for the first time of the season, you’ll have taken the proper steps to ensure that your first trip is an enjoyable one without the dreaded trouble that comes from boat ownership. It has been said that boat is short for Bust Out Another Thousand and while that might be true in some regards, proper preseason care can save you money and keep you on the water.  

The first thing that we like to ensure is that the boat is in proper mechanical condition to operate. You don’t have to be a mechanic and only need common household tools and a basic set of skills to check these things. If you do find a problem with something during your checks, know your limitations as to whether you can fix it yourself or if you should take it in to a certified mechanic. Things to check:

Servicing-
If your motor is a 4 stroke, now is a good time to change your oil. It is recommended by most manufacturers to replace the oil every 100 hours or annually whichever comes first. For most recreational boaters, the annual mark will come well before the 100 hour mark. You should also change all of your filters (oil, fuel, fuel/water separator). All of these things are easily done on your own, but you should follow the guidelines set forth in your owner’s manual. 
 If you did not change your lower unit fluid before storing your boat, you should change it as well. I prefer to change it before winter in case there is any water in the fluid. The water will freeze and can cause damage to your lower unit. While servicing your oil and replacing your filters, you should check for leaks. If you find any fuel or oil leaks you’ll want to investigate the cause and fix the leak before using the boat. If you’ve kept gas in the tank all season, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to drain the tank and add fresh gas. This could potentially save you hundreds of dollars and a lot of trouble. Gasoline today will break down and start gunking up. It will turn to jelly and clog your fuel injectors or carburetor and potentially leave you stranded on the water.  

Batteries- 
Make sure your batteries are fully charged. Hopefully, you have kept them on a battery maintainer all winter and they have stayed fresh and ready to go. If not and you live in a really cold environment, hopefully you brought your batteries inside out of the cold. Either way, before hitting the water make sure they are charged and if they are serviceable batteries make sure to top them off with water.

Electrical Connections- 
Let’s face it, we operate our boats in an environment that is prone to corrosion. Corrosion costs boaters around the world thousands of dollars a year, but with proper preventative measures is easily mitigated. Prior to the start of the season, disconnect all of your electronics and clean the connection with an electrical contact cleaner such as CRC 5103 Quick Dry Electronic Cleaner (http://www.amazon.com/CRC-5103-Quick-Electronic-Cleaner/dp/B000BXOGNI/ref=pd_sim_328_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=411CvV4yAwL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR160%2C160_&refRID=120GY3F0QT3CJMCGRQMR). 
 Once clean, spray the connection with a di electric grease such as CRC Di-Electric Grease http://www.amazon.com/CRC-02083-Di-Electric-Grease-weight/dp/B0013J62A4/ref=pd_rhf_se_s_cp_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=41q3pDTc0GL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_SL500_SR135%2C135_&refRID=1CCKS5CQP4PK3D0WS0CV. 
 The grease spray will keep moisture out of your connections and keep them free of corrosion, giving you that piece of mind that when you flip the switch, your equipment is going to turn on.  

Lights-
Light bulbs go bad, they burn out or simply break. Prior to using your boat, verify the integrity of all of your lights. If you find lights that are burnt out, replace the bulbs before hitting the water even if you don’t plan on using your boat before or after sunset, Murphy’s Law always has a way of prevailing and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t forget to give the light housing a squirt with the CRC Electronic Cleaner and then the CRC Di-Electric Grease.  
Now that you are in tip top mechanical shape, let’s go over some safety items that you should have with you on the water. There are required items, and there are items that I highly recommend. Always check your local boating laws to verify what you are required to have. Federal and most state laws require every vessel to have:
Personal Flotation Devices for everyone aboard-Ensure that they fit and are serviceable. If the straps or buckles are torn/broken then replace it.   
A throw able flotation device- check for serviceability, if there are tears or cuts then replace. 
Fire extinguisher-make sure it is not expired and that it is properly charged 
Horn or whistle- I encourage you to carry a whistle even if your boat is equipped with a horn. Revert back to Murphy’s Law.  
Some laws also require you to carry flares as well as a first aid kit, both of which I highly recommend. 
Now that your maintenance is taken care of and you have the proper safety gear, it is now time to hit the water for your maiden voyage. Hopefully you’ve followed this advice and it has lifted the weight of preparing your boat for the season off of your shoulders. Best of luck out there this year and don’t forget to have a great time. Tight lines

Flipping for Bass from the Kayak

I headed out to Mittry Lake this weekend with the intent to learn how to flip for bass from the kayak. I had previously been concerned about my low position to the water and how hard it would be. Within the first 10-15 minutes I had the technique down pretty good and my confidence was pretty high, even though the only other time I’ve ever flipped before was with a friend in his boat last summer. 
Rigged up with a zman palmetto bug in green pumpkin, and confident in my newly acquired ability I headed to a stretch of water where I’ve had a lot of luck in the past with throwing a frog. On about the third flip, I felt a solid thump and set the hook. The rod came tight and it felt like a decent fish, but quickly pulled off. I then realized that I was nowhere near manly enough with my hookset. I pretty much just lifted the rod like it was a crankbait bite. Oh well, lesson learned. I pick that stretch of grass apart over the next hour, and ended up putting two in the yak before calling it a day. While I didn’t burn them up, it was a great learning experience and I am looking forward to getting out and applying what I’ve learned again in the near future.

Welcomed home to the Old North State by a fatty flatty

Was blessed with an opportunity to finally get back to NC to spend time with family and on the water after being away for 8 months. The majority of my time revolved around spending as much time as possible with the kids on the water. That said, one night while home around 10 pm my better half tells me that I should wake up and go fishing by myself until early afternoon. The kids hadn’t done their school work in a couple of days (homeschool is awesome) and needed to catch up. Not one to argue with the boss, I woke up the next morning with the intent of fishing a lone for a little while after I picked up a gallon of XD100 for the boat. I had plans of going to Beaufort and seeing if I could find any reds to play with. I’d had the kids out and had them on rats (report to come on that soon) but I wanted some bigger fish. 
I woke up around 7 the next morning to get ready so I could be at the store by the time they opened at 8 to get my oil. It was then that I remembered my good friend Steve is retired and unless he was already fishing would be willing and able to go. So I gave him a call and low and behold his boat was in the shop for routine maintenance and he was available to fish.  After a quick conversation, we decided to meet at the ramp around 9 am. 

We splashed the boat and headed out in search of a few gray trout while waiting for the tide to get right and found what we were looking for, though they were picky and had a strong preference for my sting silver over his (I think he was being nice since I hadn’t fished in a while). Once the tide got right, we decided to go in search of Mr Redfish. We found them and quickly put 10 or so in the boat, but they were all rats. While fun, they were not what we were hoping for. Running out of time to make something awesome happen, I decided to hit the port wall in hopes of a few flounder. 
It didn’t take long to fill the bait well with good sized finger mullet, and we got setup to drift for flounder.  On the first drift, Steve came tight with a good fish and we finally had something to stink up the cooler with. Next it was my turn, but this one was a tad smaller than Steve’s though still a legal fish at 16 inches. Steve then put another one in the boat at 17 inches, and it was my turn again. I felt the thump and knew right away it was going to be a good fish. Using live finger mullet 6-8 inches long I had to give her a second to eat. I waited about 3 seconds and checked to see if she was still there. I slowly lifted my rod tip and felt it pull back. I lowered the rod, taking up slack and then let her rip! At first, nothing budged and Steve thought I was hung. I knew better. This is a good fish, get the net! After a few moments I saw color. She rose to the surface and her head tried coming out of the water but Steve made quick work with the net job and I had my largest flounder to date in the boat. I took it to Chasin Tails for a weight after the trip and she came in at 6.94 pounds. 
We finished the trip shortly after that fish as I’d already pushed my window to get home to the family, but we managed 4 nice flounder. We fished the first hour of the falling tide and used live finger mullet on Carolina rig as bait.

Lower Colorado River Bassin’

Today, Robert and I hit the lower Colorado River near Yuma AZ for some largemouth bass action.  The lower Colorado is loaded with big bass, and has several small “lakes” or backwater right off of it. Our goal for the day was to explore some new water, and see if we couldn’t put a few fish in the boat while we were at it. 

We splashed Robert’s boat at first light, and made the short run to our first spot.  Having never fished in this particular “lake” we didn’t really know what to expect. Going in was a little tight, but we made it work.  

 Once inside, we started looking around for “fishy” looking spots to start. Watching his Lowrance Mark 5x sonar, we see that there’s a steep drop right off of a major point. Perfect winter time spot! I’m throwing a Spro Little John and Robert is tossing an Alabama rig.  10 minutes or so into working that point, I put the first fish of the day in the boat on the Little John.  

 
We continued to work the point for a little while longer, but that was the only fish we found. Moving around the lake, we find some standing timber in 7-8 feet of water. This spot should hold some fish we said, but I was in need of a crankbait that ran a little deeper. I changed the Little John out for a Bandit 200 and Robert began throwing a drop shot. A few casts in, I felt a good deflection off of a tree limb, and then a solid thump. I set the hook and a few moments later had fish number 2 in the boat.  

 Quickly getting it back in the water, I made another cast and stuck fish number 3.  

 At this point we knew we had found a pattern and Robert tied on a crankbait.  We continued to work that area over, but didn’t find anymore fish. We eventually decided to run to the next lake.  This one was even harder to get into, but once again  we made it. Once inside, we quickly keyed in on the same standing timber that we found fish on in the previous lake, and in a matter of minutes had another fish in the boat.  

 We each had a few followers and a couple of hits after that, but didn’t catch anymore fish. Running out of time, we decided to give up on exploring and head to one of Robert’s standbys to see if we could find our last fish for the “tournament bag”. Though we weren’t fishing a tournament, it’s always nice to know that if you were, you’d have brought a limit to the scales. 

This last spot ended up being the hardest of the day to get into. Once in, Robert pointed out a rock pile and a stump and said there’d be a fish on one of the two. After throwing at the rock pile with nothing to show for it, we eased over to the stump. I threw the Bandit in and started cranking. About the fifth turn of the reel I felt a deflection and then the thump. Fish on!  I get her to the boat and hoist number 5 over the side.  

 At this point, we are out of time.  We make a couple more casts and decide to call it a day.  All fish were caught on crankbaits, and four out of five bit after the crankbait deflected off of wood.  Thank you again for the trip Robert, and I look forward to doing it again.  We hope you enjoyed reading about our trip, and have tight lines until next time.  

Three Presentations for Winter Bass

Just because it is winter and might be cold outside, doesn’t mean that you can’t catch a fish.  I have three presentations for winter bass that have consistently produced results for me, regardless of where I am at in the country.

1. Lipless crankbaits such as Strike King Redeye Shad or Spro Aruku Shad, with a fast retrieve. It goes against conventional winter wisdom of slowing down, but if you burn it by their face enough times they’ll eventually get mad and hit it.

2. Jerk baits such as Lucky Craft pointers or Rapala x raps. I really like the pointers. This is nearly a do nothing bait. Cast it out, twitch it a couple of times to get it down to depth, and then pause, and every so often give it very light and subtle twitches. Don’t over work the bait. It suspends in the fishes face long enough, that little tiny twitch will drive her mad.

3. Weightless zoom super fluke. Cast it out, allow it to fall on a slack line and watch for your twitches or ticks in your line and set the hook.  They’ll usually hit on the initial fall.

Give them a try and we would love to hear your results. If you have a presentation that you’d like to share with us, please feel free to do so.  

 

My Number One Secret to Being a Successful Angler 

  There is no denying that we all want to catch more fish.  We sit at work and dream of being at our favorite fishing hole and catching the fish of our lifetime.  In the next couple of paragraphs, I am going to reveal to you, my number one secret to catching more and bigger fish.

  I find it imperative to approach every situation like my next cast could result in a new personal best. How many times have you had a fish to grab your bait right at the boat, or right at your feet?  For me, the answer is too many to count.  By thinking that any cast could result in a personal record, you are more apt to work your bait all the way back to the boat or bank.  You will pay closer attention to what your bait is doing, and when you get bit, will notice exactly what was going on so that you can effectively begin to piece together a pattern.  

  How many times have you gone out to fish and not gotten any bites in the first couple of places and started digging into your tackle bag for that “magical” lure?  I think at some point or another we have all fell into that trap. I believe that an angler will be more successful by sticking to a couple of lures, and not spending unnecessary time in the tackle box. Pick three lures that will cover the upper, middle, and lower water column. My uncle once told me as a child “you’re not going to catch any fish in that tackle box”. I didn’t understand it then, but I do now. By sticking to a few lures on a given day, you are going to focus on your presentation rather than what is tied onto the end of your line. You’ll put more emotion into the bait, and as a result will get more bites.  That is not to mention the obvious, you’ll make more casts and as a result stand a better chance of catching more fish.  I don’t get wrapped around exact colors so much as I do the style and profile of the bait. I will go into details on my thoughts on color selection in a later post. 

  To sum it all up, my number one secret to catching more fish is to have confidence. Have confidence in yourself as an angler, the gear you are using, and the area that you are fishing. This has worked wonders for me, and I am confident it will work for you too. Good luck out there and until next time, tight lines.