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