Winter Fishing Report
Middle Provo River
Winter fishing on the Middle Provo River is my favorite, usually consisting of blanket midge hatches that get every fish in the river looking up. Noses every where and dry fly eats on almost every cast.
Unfortunately, we aren’t quite there yet. The Best Winter Fishing on the Middle has been on the upper stretches of the river (along old hwy. 40) you’ll find sporadic risers here and there, but certainly nothing compared to what we should see in the coming weeks. Those sporadic risers are catchable on dry flies, but they can be pretty tough due to the inconsistency of their feeding.
If you want to head out and fish dries, this would be the place to do it, but don’t expect it to be easy. Long, light tippets (think 6.5-7X) are going to be necessary. I find these fish to be best targeted with a full floating midge trailed by an emerger beneath the surface. Most of the time, the fish will eat the sunk emerger and the leading dry is really just an indicator. Its tough, but fun.
Lower Provo River
Like the Middle, the fishing in the Canyon has been decent. Not amazing, but there are fish to be had for those willing to get out.
One of my favorite winter fishing techniques on the Lower is fishing jigged streamers slowly through the main runs and deep pools. You can do it either on a traditional rig with a floating line, or on a Euro set up. Get the fly up into the head of the pool, let it get down, and slowly jig the fly with the rod tip throughout the run, keeping up with the slack by stripping line. Good flies are Barr’s Meat Whistle and any type of bugger pattern tied on a jig hook.
Just like the Middle, nymph fishermen should think small, light rigs. The fish are full of Daphnia (a micro sized crustacean), which usually means tough fishing. Small midges and micro sow bugs will be key to catching fish under an indicator. Its consistent. Not crazy, but if you put in the time, you’ll get into them.
The midge hatches are usually less prolific on the Lower than the Middle. Not nonexistent, but much less consistent. If you’re a dry fly fishermen, stick to the middle.
Despite the lack of hatches, there are a few things that should put the Lower Provo on your list to visit. First off, there are fewer people on the Lower than you’ll see on the Middle. I’m not saying you aren’t going to see other people, but you won’t see people lined up in holes like you often see on sunny, warm winter days on the Middle. Second, the average size fish is bigger. Sure, you probably wont get to target them with dries, but if bigger fish are your thing, stick to the Lower.
Nymphing Techniques for Winter Fishing
Nymphing will be your best bet to put numbers in the bag. If you’re fishing a traditional bounce rig under an indicator, think small. Tiny midges (#24-28) will be the top producers. Again, light tippet is necessary. With the water being low, you should be downsizing your split shot as well. Add micro shot until you get a nice consistent bounce through your entire drift.
Euro nymphing has been great in the last week. If thats your preferred method, fish smaller Frenchies and Perdigons. One of the biggest advantages of this technique is being able to fish the “in-between water” thats found between the main runs you see everyone stacked up in. The bigger, slower pockets hold decent numbers of fish, even in the winter. If its a technique you’d like to learn, give us a call. We’ve got guides that specialize in teaching new euro nymphing and the low winter water is a good place to learn.
As per usual on the Middle, if you want to get away from the crowds, fish the lower sections of the river. Often you’ll find miles of river with only a few anglers on it. The midge hatch usually starts later in the year down lower, but the nymphing is pretty consistent in the winter months. Fewer fish per mile? Sure. Just as many fish per fisherman though. Usually the hatch really kicks off near the very end of January and gets even better through February. The coming weeks should be excellent on the Middle.
We’re pretty lucky to have what are, in my opinion, some of the best winter fisheries in the country. Are they in full winter time craziness yet? Nope, but you can still have good days with numerous fish to hand. Any day the fishing should really ramp up. The only way to be there when it does is to get out on the river.
-Written by Morgan Nowels