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