FLY FISHING THE MID PROVO RIVER, OUTSIDE PARK CITY, UTAH, OFFERS AFFORDABLE AND SCENIC WINTER FISHING
Regardless of your skill level, the Middle Provo River in the Heber Valley outside of Park City, Utah might offer some of the most accessible and scenic winter fly fishing in America. Whether you’re coming to Provo as a beginner or an expert, you’ll find something here to challenge, inspire and reward your visit.
For starters, “The Middle”, as it is known locally, has a truly unique and successful restoration history. The dynamic challenging riparian conservation came to a head in the Heber Valley between 1999 and 2008. The State of Utah, the Feds, local ranchers, and NGOs worked together to comprehensively restore the Middle Provo. They narrowed the banks of the ditches, fenced off the herds, silenced the engines, added miles of a new channel, and restored a postcard-worthy high valley. Today that’s 13 miles of the most beautiful and healthful sewage on the blue ribbon, perhaps anywhere outside of a Wilderness Area. And there is no more suitable time of year to experience this achievement than snowy winter.
The Provo is well known for challenging rocky straightaways punctuated by perfect pools and lots of small “cubes”. Thanks to the restoration, enjoy healthy and robust hatches throughout the year. Fishing pressure is also well known and for good reason. The pressure eases noticeably in the winter, but be willing to hike around the next bend. (Cross country skiing is the only other use allowed throughout Provo.) The days are shorter and slower, but the beauty and rewards of staying focused are unmatched.
All the poetry of fly fishing will welcome you to the Heber Valley in winter. One of the best-kept secrets is the ease with which visitors can wriggle out of “crushed powder” at Park City’s mega-ski areas and “kill the browns” in Provo.
By the time you put your boots in the water, you’ll be standing among 3,000 fish per mile. The stream has mostly healthy and well bred medium Browns. You may occasionally have a surprise rainbow or Bonneville Cutthroat, and there’s always a chance of bigger fish coming out of Deer Creek Reservoir. The fish on the Provo are very easy to catch for all skill levels if you don’t take shortcuts, but you will win every fish you catch.
Imagine jumping into snow-covered waters a mile above sea level. The Middle Provo is a perfect river for expanding your mobility and weather comfort zones, but start your winter fishing trip focused on staying slow, comfortable, and safe.
The Provo is an easily accessible river. The trails are obvious and the few fences have gates. The parking areas have excellent maps and information kiosks. You won’t be alone either. The scene in the Provo tends to be as friendly as possible, so local information is often easy to come by.
Daytime temperatures tend to be mild by Midwestern standards, with highs between 35 and 40 (F) common. The lows can drop towards single digits. However, don’t let the beauty of the postcard distract you. Temperatures can drop quickly in the early afternoon and mornings can be bitter. Keep your seatbelt tight and be aware of the consequences of even a light dip.
Mountaintails have other benefits for winter anglers. Jordanelle Reservoir flows are expected to be moderate to low. More importantly, since the flows come from the bottom of the lake, the water temperatures are very constant. Remember, fish are much less likely to feed or rise when the water is below 40 degrees. A thermometer is helpful when fly fishing in the winter. The Provo generally has enough daytime warming to support good fishing all winter long.
In the winter, Provo’s mosquitoes make the man. Come prepared to improve your platforming discipline, improve your knowledge of entomology, and shrug off Hollywood casting. Snowbank sessions at The Middle will present enjoyable opportunities for new and intermediate anglers to improve their confidence and skills. The local nymph pads are iconic and known as the “Provo River Bounce Pad.” You’ve seen this outfit before if you’ve been in the nymph game a long time. It was supposedly invented on the Provo, but is similar to earlier rigs like the “Right Angle Nymph Rig”.
Wild Water Deluxe Fly Fishing Kit 9′ 5/6 Weight Rod and Reel Combo It is perfect for the Provo nymph. This kit features a 5/6, 9′ 4-Piece Medium-Fast Action Fly Rod and Reel with 85mm Diameter, Die-Cast Aluminum, Adjustable Disc Drag Reel, Pre-Rung with Chartreuse, WF-5F , 5 forward weight, floating fly line, 20# orange backing, and 9′ 5x tapered monofilament leader.
Here’s how to build a “Provo River Bounce Pad”:
Start with a heavy section of Maxima Chameleon or any other stiff monofilament to build the leader’s butt section. Attach the impact indicator and then a tippet ring to attach a long piece of fluorocarbon tippet material. The leader’s midsection should be 12 to 24 inches longer than the depth of the water you are fishing in. Use your favorite knot to tie in another section of the tippet material and leave a long tag to tie in your top fly. Then tie another 12-18 inches of tippet to another knot with a long tag. Finally, the bottom section of the tippet should only extend about 8 inches below the last label. Then tie a square knot in the tippet end, so the split shot won’t slip off the tag end easily. Use several small split shots in the lower section of the tippet over the square knot, which creates the bounce weights. Now tie flies into the two tags of the tippet knots above and you are ready to fish. Wild Water Fly Fishing has some great tippet material for building a “Provo River Bounce Pad”.
In slow winter waters, fish can be very selective. Dry or submerged, fly choice always matters. Especially if you are new to Provo or nymphing, you should be prepared to change your flies to match small differences in hatching or feeding action. If the nymph becomes frustrating, don’t stress. Winter on the Middle is about the season, not the platform. Streamers, terrestrials, or even simple surface drys can always have a spot.
The medium is excellent for trying out new techniques or confidently enjoying simpler throwing styles. Safe access, experience levels of fish, need for focused fly selection and abundance of vegetated and less pressured inshore sections make Provo one of the most beautiful places to ditch the gear and flow to tenkara, especially in winter and spring conditions. . If you’re visiting for a snow sports vacation, remember: no matter what your travel situation, there’s always room to pack for tenkara.
The Middle Provo runs 13 miles between upstream Jordanelle Dam and downstream Deer Creek Reservoir, easily accessible from Park City and less than an hour from the Salt Lake City Airport. The up and coming rural town of Heber is minutes from Middle Provo. You can find great guide books, fly shops, and necessities in Heber and Park City.
For more detailed information on completing your winter packing list for safe fly fishing in the Middle Provo or elsewhere, visit www.wildwaterflyfishing.com
About Wild Water Fly Fishing
Wild Water Fly Fishing represents a dedication to bringing friends and family together by providing them with everything they will need to prepare for a trip to the lake. Whether you are a parent or grandparent wanting to nurture a child’s interest in fly fishing, Wild Water offers the best tools to make your fly fishing trip an unforgettable experience. Wild Water Fly Fishing is the only company that focuses exclusively on affordable and easy to use fly fishing starter packs for all species of fish.