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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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.  

 

We Saved the Best for Last. Part 4 of 4

My last day of fishing over the New Year break, and hands down my favorite came on Saturday January 2nd.  I had my best and favorite fishing buddies aboard for the day. The kids wanted to catch some trout so I pointed the truck east out of the driveway and we were off to hopefully do just that.  We made it to the ramp about 30 minutes later after a quick stop for gas and snacks.  Having plenty of snacks onboard is very essential when planning a fishing trip with kids.  If you think they eat a lot while at home, you should see what they can put away when they get on a boat!  I’ll write more on ways to ensure success on the water while fishing with your kids later.

After launching the boat and a short 10 minute boat ride we were pulling into a creek that I hadn’t fished in several years, but based off of current conditions had a hunch would hold some fish.  I pulled the boat off of plane at the mouth of the creek and stopped about 100 yards short of where I wanted to start fishing.  I dropped the trolling motor, and while quietly making my way over to the spot, gave each of the kids a juice box and a snack.  In this case, it was some of momma’s fried chicken!  

 They started catching on the very first stop and didn’t quit until it was time to go home at dark. What a trip with memories that are sure to last a lifetime. Gold Broken Glass Mirrolure 17mr’s and curly tail grubs did the trick. We didn’t find any big fish, but every fish is a trophy in the eye of a kid.  Proof is in their smiles.