Streamer fly fishing in Utah and Wyoming

Im writing this blog to educate the fly fisherman out there that haven’t had much success with streamer fishing.  I hear it a lot, “I have never caught anything on a streamer.”  Well, I hope to change that, here are a few suggestions.  Streamer fishing is simply fishing with an imitation minnow or other aquatic life such as small fish, leech or crawfish that you actively retrieve through the water.  Streamer fishing is a commitment and you need to be prepared to cover a lot of water. Here are two ways you may approach this.  You can either start up stream and work your way down, covering every piece of structure in the river. Pulling your fly through every bucket, in front of and behind every rock, and through every deep run. You get the picture. Or the opposite, start down stream and work your way up doing the same thing.  Personally, I prefer starting down stream and moving up especially when fishing smaller streams. Both approaches will get the job done. It is always helpful if you can see your fly and know what its doing. This will give you a better idea of how to fish and retrieve your fly. Your main objective is to make your fly seem as if it is struggling and confused.  Larger fish pray on the vulnerable.  This is what makes streamer fishing so fun, you are one with your fly. When it comes to retrieving your fly, there is no wrong answer.  A fast retrieve, slow retrieve, no retrieve (letting it sink and bump the bottom) or a combination.  Once you get the hang of it and start moving and hooking fish you will know what all the hype is about.  To me, streamer fishing is one of the most exciting fishing you can do and if you stick with it you will be rewarded with some trophy sized fish.  Next we come to the question, what size and what color?  Bigger is always better. I tend to fish three to six inch streamers, usually articulating.  Sometimes I fish smaller, but not often.  Colors vary depending on light conditions. I try to stick to the rule of lighter colors on sunny days and darker colors on cloudy days.  But rules are made to be broken so feel free to change it up.  There is almost always an eager, meat eating trout out there. With that in mind there is never a bad time to streamer fish. So don’t be afraid to change up your routine and do some streamer fishing.  Have fun out there and remember big fish eat fish.  -Jeremy

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Winter fly fishing: Utah

Even though Utah primarily attracts skiers during the winter season, what you might not know is that the fly fishing in and around Park City, Utah can be fantastic this time of year.  Because of the two tailwater fisheries (dam controlled river that has optimal water temperature and flow) in such close proximity to Park City, makes the Weber River and Provo RIver fly fishing a year-round activity for tourist and locals alike.

In the winter time, the Provo River and Weber River get a great midge hatch.  One could argue it is maybe even the best hatch of the year.  The winter fly fishing in Utah will really start to get exciting in the next two weeks and will last until the end of april. The first midge hatch of the year (a size 22-26 small black and olive midge)  has already started on the middle Provo River.

 In the next week or so, we should see the lower Provo River get its first solid midge hatch.  What makes the midge hatch on the lower Provo so exciting is that the midges will really cluster together.  Instead of throwing a size 24 fly that you can hardly see, you can throw a size 12-16 fly that imitates all the midges stuck together. The hatch that I personally look forward to fishing the most is the buffalo midge, which is a gigantic midge size 16-18.  This oxymoron of a midge will start to hatch at the end of February and stick around for about a month and a half.  This hatch is primarily on the Weber River and middle Provo River.  Fly fishing in Utah during the winter season can be spectacular.  Imagine big black midges floating down the river in swarms, making the fish go crazy. 

What separates ourselves from other Utah fly fishing guides is that we always have top-notch guides on staff year-round.  So if you’re in Park City on a vacation and you need a break from skiing or are just looking for a new winter activity, give us a call.

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Park City to be featured in '25 Best Towns to Fly Fish for Trout'

Provo River Guide Service recently became friends with Bob Mallard, author and owner of Kennebec River Outfitters in Maine.  He is working on a book that will feature Park City as one of the 25 Best Towns to Fly Fish for Trout.  He has been using us as a local resource for photographs as well as confirming what he already knows to be true…. Park City, Utah is not only a premier destination for outdoor recreation but the fly fishing is world class!!  You can also find him at 50 Best Places to Fly Fish the Northeast.  Thank you Bob for your support and we look forward to your books when they come out!

Bob's passion for fly fishing is infectious and I hope you enjoy him as much as we are.  -Marieke Rogers

Introducing Bob Mallard,

Bob Mallard

Bob Mallard

"There are fly fishing waters, there are fly fishing destinations, and there are fly fishing towns. This book is about the latter…"  

"I own and operate Kennebec River Outfitters in Madison, Maine. My first book is called 50 Best Places to Fly Fish the Northeast due out early 2014. 25 Best Towns to Fly Fish for Trout is due out spring 2014. My third book is called 50 Best Places to Fly Fish for Brook Trout…"

"While working on an article about fly fishing towns, I realized that I had enough information for a book. Articles on the subject have been published in fly fishing, sporting, outdoor recreation and even business magazines. But no one had ever done it in book format. This allows for a full compliment of pictures, maps; and fly shop, guide/outfitter, lodging, food and "other" sidebars. I believe you will enjoy it…."

-Bob Mallard

Park City fly fishing: The Spawn is on… please tread lightly

 The spawn is on and fly fishing in Utah is epic!  Many of our rivers  around Park City are in full spawn, and others are just getting started.  Utah rivers are predominately loaded with Brown trout and they typically spawn in the fall from October through December.  We have been seeing the female trout launching themselves out of the river to break their egg sacs for the last several weeks.  Now is the time that the females are ready and picking their spot to build a nest, or redd, in suitable gravel.  Characteristics of these spots are swift water and loose pebbles or gravel.  After finding the right river depth and bottom conditions that suit her.  She will lie on her side and swim along the bottom, moving the gravel with her tail.  This will clean out a depression which allows space for her eggs to fall in.  It will also ensure that the eggs get enough oxygen from the running water.   It not uncommon to see these fish of Utah picking the same sweet spot in a section of the river.  

While she prepares her spot, the redd.  The males gather nearby and compete for the right to be next to her.  After she feels like her bed has been made and she has a stud by her side, she lays her eggs.   At the same time he dumps his load (milt).  This goes on until the female has released all of her eggs.  Before moving back to her winter retreat in deeper water, she covers her eggs by moving the gravel back over the depression to protect the eggs.  The eggs are then left to develop and hatch the following spring.  It is not uncommon to see  the males remain in the area for some time looking over the nest and eating any rouge eggs that may be floating by.  This an amazing time of the year to be on Utah rivers but if one is not careful it can have a damaging effect.  As guides at PRGS and fisherman there are a few rules we live by during the spawn.   

First rule of thumb.  We don’t pursue brown trout on the redds.  This could interrupt the ying and the yang of reproduction.  And besides no one like there door knock on while trying to get some. 

Second. When fishing near spawning fish, avoid walking on the spawning beds (redds).  To reiterate, spawning beds look like someone has dug a hole in the smaller gravel at the bottom of the river.  Since most of our rivers do have vegetation on the bottom, you can typically identify spawning beds by looking where the gravel has been cleaned of vegetation.  When you identify these spawning spots, stay away from them!  Do not walk anywhere near them.  The odds of an individual egg surviving to adulthood are already slim.  Let's do our part as anglers to ensure we do not jeopardize the future of our rivers.  As guides we practice this by fishing well behind the redds.  We target the buckets just down stream from them.  On the Lower Provo River this is where we find our biggest rainbows as well as our trophy browns on the middle section of the Provo River.

If you are fishing near the spawning fish, limit your impact by fishing from the shore.  Do you really need to catch that many fish in a day? Catch one or two fish and then move on.   Leave the fish alone to do their thing. Our children and clients will thank us for it.

Sincerely, Jeremy Rogers

brown trout spawning bed, "redd"

brown trout spawning bed, "redd"

a close up of a brown trout redd

a close up of a brown trout redd

Green River Fly fishing in Wyoming

As of mid-April, Provo River Guide Service has held a permit for the upper Green River below Fontanelle Reservoir in Wyoming.  We are permitted to fish the zero section, which is just below the dam about 5 miles to the entrance of Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. 

This fall has presented us a few challenges on the upper Green River with lower water flows and the government shut down playing a factor.  Luckily, the government was able to figure things out and the fishing has far exceeded our expectations. 

Recently I had the pleasure to guide long-time client, Jim, and his son, Michael, on one of the most epic trips to date!  I have since decided to share it with will all of our Provo River Guide Service clients what this adventure was like.  It is hard to put in words how exciting the fishing is on the upper Green River.  I will try my best to describe what the last two days of fishing was like on the trip.  On our first day, I decided to meet Jim and Michael at the camp ground at seven in the morning to get an early start.  After setting up the shuttle, we were in the boat and on the river around 7:30 AM, just as the sun was coming up.  The weather was a perfect, light drizzle and not a touch of wind.  On our first pass in the 'camp ground' hole, both Jim and Michael hooked up on 16"-20" rainbow trout.  We spent the next couple of hours back rowing that run.  Unbelievably, we didn’t do one pass through the run with out either Michael or Jim hooking up or both at the same time.  You know you are in for a good day when Jim tells you that his trip is already made and the rest of the day’s catch are just a bonus. 

Well, the next two days proved to be just as good as our first couple of hours.  We had nonstop action with big rainbow trout and brown trout to the net continuously.  At the end of the trip I asked Jim to share his experience of the Green River.  This was his reply...

“I have fly fished the rivers of Alaska 5 different times and I have fished the Upper Green River in Wyoming 4 times.  There are more similarities than there are differences.  Both experiences are best appreciated within a drift boat with some wading in key holes.  Both regions not only give the angler plenty of opportunity at real trophies, but also provide a scenic experience where moose, eagles, and water fowl are regular sightings.  Like Alaska, the Upper Green River provides trophy fishing for multiple species; on the Green it's Rainbows, Browns, Cutbows, and Cutthroats.”

“Every time I have fished the Upper Green, I, and my fishing partner, have caught trout that are worthy of being compared to those found in Alaska: 20" Snake River Cutthroat, 23" brown trout, and a 24" rainbow trout are three such examples.  The Upper Green River is truly a great trophy fishery and can stand side by side the best fly fishing rivers in Alaska.” 

-Jeff Harwin

Jim with a brown trout, fly fishing in Wyoming

Jim with a brown trout, fly fishing in Wyoming

Jeff and Michael with a rainbow trout, Wyoming fly fishing

Jeff and Michael with a rainbow trout, Wyoming fly fishing

Micheal with a rainbow trout, Wyoming fly fishing with a moose

Micheal with a rainbow trout, Wyoming fly fishing with a moose

Jim with a Kokanee on the upper Green River

Jim with a Kokanee on the upper Green River

Fall fly fishing in Utah

The most common question that our guests ask at the beginning or end of a guided fly fishing trip is, “When is the best time to fly fish in Utah?”  I am not sure that one season is better than the other.  Based on the consensus of our guides, they most enjoy guiding and fly fishing in Utah in the fall.  With the foliage changing, the landscape in and around the river is spectacular.  The fly fishing on the Provo River is as good as any time of the year and some can argue it might even be the best time. The morning in early autumn days are filled with incredible dry fly fishing with big caddis patterns that bring some of the most exciting top water strikes of the year.  In the afternoon, you get a PMD and a blue winged olive hatch simultaneously with tens of thousands of bugs floating down the river.  You are sure to find plenty of fish rising on the surface.  For those of you who are streamer junkies, this is what you have been waiting for all year.  As the big browns get ready to spawn they seem to be much more territorial and aggressive.  Presenting a large meat offering streamer is sure to draw some violent strikes on the Provo River system right now. 

As for a tourist looking for a fly fishing adventure, I would argue that the fall is the best time to visit Park City for a fly fishing adventure.  With most families back to school, Park City has a quiet, charming feel which so many of us have come to love over the years.  Along side the mellow atmosphere, most major restaurants on Park City’s Main Street offer two for one specials.... which is also a nice perk. 

PRGS is a year-round guide service.  We pride ourselves as Park City fly fishing guides that we can put you on fish whatever the conditions are at any time of year.  Whether you are an avid fly fisherman or just touching a fly rod for the first time, don’t let the time of year stop you from getting out on the water.  -Jeff Harwin

Jeff holding a nice brown trout caught by long time client, Jim.  Early morning, fall fly fishing in Utah

Jeff holding a nice brown trout caught by long time client, Jim.  Early morning, fall fly fishing in Utah

The brown trout you have to see to believe!

This fish is beginning to get quite a bit of attention.... I received a call this morning inquiring whether we will be posting a picture on the internet.  The angler that called, who has been fishing in the area for 20 years, had never seen a fish that size on the Provo River.  He has made calls to fellow anglers across the country, none of which believe him.  So here it is anglers.... Congratulations Jamie and guide Jeff on landing this behemoth brown trout on the middle Provo River, just a short 25 minutes from Park City, UT,  August 3, 2013.

brown trout, park city fly fishing

brown trout, park city fly fishing

Utah Fly Fishing: The Year of the Dry

After having two consecutive winters in Park City with a low amount of snow pack we finally get a summer perfect for top water action.  The middle and lower Provo River are right in the 350-400 CFS range and should stay around that flow until the beginning of September.  I have written this in past Provo River fishing reports, but I will say it again, these flows are just perfect for fly fishing.  In the last 5-10 years the flows on our dam controlled rivers such as the middle and lower Provo and Weber River have gradually increased in flow with every year.  Believe it or not, but the voice of the fly fishermen in Utah asking for perfect flows is nothing in comparison to the water rights demands downstream.  What I am a basically saying is, we might not see these perfect flows for quite sometime. 

In the next week or two, we should see the middle and lower Provo River erupt with caddis.  In past years, the dry fly fishing has been good even in high water.  I can only imagine it will be spectacular this year.  The beauty of the caddis hatch is that you can fish dry flies almost all day.  Right around 7:30 AM, when the light starts to hit the water, the caddis from the night before come back to the water to lay their eggs.  As these little moth like bugs are bouncing on the water, the trout don't hesitate to explode on them just as they are hovering over the surface.  This exciting action usually last until 11:00 AM.  Right as the caddis start to leave the water and go back into the bushes, the start of the first of many PMD's start to hatch.  In the next hour the fish start to pod-up and sip these small yellow mayflies off the surface for the next 3-5 hours.  Around 4 PM, it is a good idea to get off the water, get a bite to eat, and save your energy for the best fishing of the day.  Around 8:30 PM or as the sun comes off the water, the caddis start hatching in swarms and it seems like every fish in the river is sitting down for the feast of their life.  Pack a head lamp to prolong your day of fishing, or call it a night to rest up for an early day of fishing tomorrow.  -Jeff Harwin

 

fly fishing in Utah

fly fishing in Utah

fly fishing in utah

fly fishing in utah

Utah recreation is heating up, and Provo River Guide Service is in full swing!

This is the time of year when Provo River Guide Service expands our local Utah fly fishing to the sacred Rivers X and small streams.  Which we have found the fishing to be incredible!  PRGS has had many clients out this past week, all of which have landed a fish in the 20-inch class.  As much as I would love to give the details on these streams, what makes them so special is the low amount of traffic that you encounter on your fishing adventure.  For us at Provo River Guide Service we value the experience that we share with our clients and our well kept secrets.  While we stay rather tight lipped about these spots, we frequently update our Utah fishing report.  This will give you all the information you need to have a successful day on our local waters.

As a boutique fly fishing outfitter, our guides strive to give our guests a unique experience by expanding to other Utah Rivers, while reaching as far as Wyoming.  We still guide the majority of our trips on our local Provo River and Weber River systems, but by offering these options we diversify our clients repertoire of streams.  This is the time of year we tend to encourage full day trips and driving a little bit further to make the most of the best fishing that Utah and Wyoming have to offer.

With a light snow pack and a mild winter, the run-off is almost done for the year.  Prime time fishing should be happening in the next couple of weeks, all the way through the end of the month.  Like clockwork, once the high water comes down, large bugs such as green drakes and stoneflies start to come off and put the fish in a feeding frenzy.  For dry fly fishermen this is what they dream about, throwing a size 6-12 dry fly at large fish that are eager to take any offering that comes in their feeding lane.  If you are looking to do a guide trip that is a little different than the average, please call or email us to inquire about one of these unforgettable fly fishing adventures.  -Jeff Harwin

River X, brow trout

River X, brow trout

Utah fishing report: despite a snow storm, Park City guide found fish up

After some reservations due to the weather, Dick and Casey went for it!  I took the father daughter duo fly fishing on the middle Provo River where Casey caught her first fish on a fly!  Oh, and did I mention, Casey is four months pregnant!  What a rock star.

I picked them up at 10:30 a.m. in Park City and headed to the middle Provo River.  We set up just below cottonwood bridge where the blizzard like conditions certainly did not affect the fishing.  Initially, I set Casey up with a nymph rig with black thread midge, and in five casts she hooked two fish.  Both got away but she got the hang of it and ultimately brought six fish to the net.  Dick was set up on a double dry midge rig, unfortunately at that hour the fish weren't targeting the dry.  Casey, the first timer, was smoking him.  The nymphing was to good to pass up.  He landed a few, the fish started to rise, he went back to the dry fly, and put a whoop on them!  Needless to say the fishing yesterday was stellar!  This just goes to show.... if you don't go, you won't know!   -Jeremy Rogers

Casey with a brown trout on the middle Provo River

Casey with a brown trout on the middle Provo River

Dick hooked up on the middle Provo
four months pregnant, a blizzard, and great fishing!  

four months pregnant, a blizzard, and great fishing!  

Oh, and you didn't hear this from me, but the buffalo midge have arrived!

Oh, and you didn't hear this from me, but the buffalo midge have arrived!

A busy week on Utah Rivers

The Provo River Guide Service is excited to have had its first multi-trip day yesterday. The first fly fishing trip on Monday, February 18, was with my long time client, Darin.  For the first time, he was bringing his 20-year-old daughter, Hannah.  I can't say I wasn't concerned with how she would handle the below freezing temperatures.  Well, she proved me wrong!

With such beautiful weather over the holiday weekend, I found it to bring a significant amount of fly fishing traffic to rivers in Utah.  After fishing the lower Provo River for an hour, and struggling to be able to set up in good water, I decided to change gears.  We packed up and headed to the middle section of the Provo.  As we crossed the bridge on River Road I noticed “dead raccoon” hole was open.  Which is a perfect place for a father and daughter to fish simultaneously.  Despite the fish rising, Darin and I decided it was best to start Hannah with a light nymph rig.  Within five minutes Hannah was hooked up!   We went on to have non-stop action for next 2 hours.  

Unfortunately, we had more fish on the line than what we brought to the net.  As guides we tend to put pressure on ourselves to bring in numbers.  This trip was a reminder that the experience is as important.  Yesterday the number of fish landed was not nearly as significant as a father sharing his love for fly fishing with his daughter.  My hope is that after a fun morning of fishing, Darin has reeled in a fly fishing partner for life.  -Jeff Harwin

 
Hannah hooked up, Dead raccoon hole, middle Provo River

Hannah hooked up, Dead raccoon hole, middle Provo River

February day with Park City guide on the lower Provo River

Yesterday I guided long time client Ernie on the lower Provo River, just 35 minutes from Park City, UT.  We were on the river just before 10 a.m., and could see fish were active and feeding off the surface.  We were just up from the Sundance Resort below the railroad trestle.   Ernie was surprised for the month of February at how many fish were rising that early in the morning.  It was only going to get better!

In the first hole we fished, we eyed a nice pod of fish at the surface.  Ernie landed four brown trout before spooking the rest of the pod.  From there we moved upstream, just above the railroad trestle.  This stretch was just as active with noses dimpling the surface and eating midge clusters.  The water type was very smooth and slow drifting.  The ideal solution is an across and downstream presentation with your fly.  By not casting over the fish,  there is a better chance the fish will stick around.  Ernie was able to hook another five brown trout.  We used a hackle stacker midge pattern followed by a very small (size 20) midge cluster, about 18 inches apart on your line. This piece of water provided about 35 minutes of consistent rising trout before the sun settled the hatch and the fish stopped feeding.  Like a light switch the surface activity turned off.  We nymphed the next few holes and landed four more brown trout.  We used an olive midge with a blue-winged olive nymph about 18 inches apart.  Overall not a bad day of fly fishing for the seventh of February!  Stay tuned for an updated Utah fishing report.     -Jeremy Rogers

brown trout on lower provo river

brown trout on lower provo river