NORTHERN UTAH REPORTS
Updated: February 21st, 2020
By: Nick Teynor
We are seeing more and more midge activity on all of our local tailwater fisheries, and for those waiting for the "Buffalo Midge" hatch it is just getting started. As the weather starts to become more mild as March approaches, these bigger midges should emerge in larger and more consistent numbers. This nicer weather has made for some very pleasant days to go fishing, and it has also meant that our rivers and streams are seeing more anglers. I have heard of and personally experienced some poor river etiquette over the last week or two, and I think it is time to revisit what constitutes good stream etiquette so we all can enjoy our time on the water. Here's a couple of resources on stream etiquette. Last year as part of our on going The Game Blog, Steve wrote a piece on this subject just about a year ago that discusses Stream Etiquette. If you haven't read it, or visited our Blog you'll find it informative and helpful. Also, the fine folks over at Redington Fly Gear have a nice little video on the subject.
While our brown trout have wrapped up spawning, our rainbow and cutthroat trout in tailwater fisheries are starting to get the spawning itch. Many (if not all) of our vital cutthroat streams are closed till the second Saturday of July to protect these precious fish. So make sure you check the 2020 fishing guidebook before you head out. Rainbows are not protected, unfortunately, so it is important that we leave their and all spawning redds alone when trout are active on them. It's up to us [anglers] to be good stewards of the resource, and ensure we have healthy fisheries for the future. Here's a little video Redington Fly Gear put out on the Spawning Redds. We have some great resources to stay up to date on water conditions around the state, so please use them to plan your fishing trips.
Check these gauges for updates on water levels!
Fishing Conditions Summary:
Flows on the Middle Provo are holding steady at around 145 CFS. Our Middle Provo fish have sought out deeper, slower water to shelter in for the winter season. Our "Buffalo" midge hatch is starting to get going, but we are still finding consistent success with size #24-#30 midges in gray and black. Once you see the "Buffalo" midge firsthand, it will be hard to mistake them with any other midge hatching. They are usually best imitated with size #18-#22 midge patterns, and we have had success with colors ranging from black to black and olive-brown combinations. Midges typically hatch/lay their eggs in the mid-mornings through the late afternoons, and our trout are definitely looking for them. I think it is safe to say that our Blue-Winged Olive mayflies won't be seen in consistent numbers until late March, but it never hurts to keep a couple of "go-to" BWO patterns tucked away in your boxes. Better to have them, than to not have them! Prime time to hit the midge hatch has been between 11 AM-4 PM. When fishing to fish chowing on these little insects, especially on sunny days, it would be wise to drop your tippet sizes down to 7X, and consider a "fly-first" (i.e. downstream) presentation to the fish.
Lower Provo flows are at 260 CFS. This is a higher-than-normal winter fishing flow, and at these flows, our fish will seek out any deeper slots, holes, and any form of structure (rocks, logs, seam lines, etc.) they can find. Keep in mind that there's A LOT more shade in the canyon than in the Heber Valley, so any sun hitting the water in the canyon can help warm water temperatures enough to get the bugs [midges] and fish active. If you check it out, make sure you have Sow Bugs, a variety of small midge larva, midge pupa, midge adult patterns, and small attractor nymphs. If all else fails, try using streamers to move some fish.
The Weber between Wanship and Coalville is, as of today, 69 CFS. This is still a flow lower than what I would like to see, but it is a "fishable" flow for this stretch of the Weber. Below Echo Reservoir the release is still only 1.0 CFS. This lack of flow makes fishing between Echo and Morgan too low to fish. With the brown trout redds exposed, and the fish trying to recover from the spawn, we'd highly recommend giving the Weber a break!!! Down by Mountain Green and through Ogden, the Weber still has "fishable" flows. Good Weber River flies to have in your boxes for this time of year are smaller attractor nymphs, Caddis larva, Midge Dries, Zebra Midges, Sow Bugs, and streamers in various sizes and colors.
Green River Below Flaming Gorge:
The flows out of Flaming Gorge are still fluctuating daily between 1,200 CFS-2,700 CFS. They have been doing this flow bump for a while, so the fish should be used to it, and fishing shouldn't be too negatively affected by it. If you are looking to fish dries over on the Green, I would recommend bringing a variety of midge patterns, and even some Blue-Wing Olives. The BWO's can hatch sporadically through February and March, and you don't want to be without a couple of them in your boxes if you run into a hatch. Midge hatches are still the name of the game, and these little insects can bring about some fun fishing opportunities that will test your skills and patience. Searching with a streamer during the winter has been productive during the daily bump in flows, and this is especially true if you are looking to do a winter float trip. Otherwise, a variety of midge, baetis (BWO), attractor, and scud nymphs will move fish when nothing else is going on.
Winter has shut down the high country lakes and streams until later this year. If you fancy a road trip, heading south to check out the San Juan River in New Mexico, or the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry wouldn't be a bad idea. Both are known for being consistent winter fisheries, and the weather is also a little warmer on the average than around here.
It's cold out there, so ice forming in your guides is inevitable. Here's a simple tip for limiting ice build-up in you guides: Fish a rod length (or two) of fly line outside the tip of your rod, and minimize stripping your fly line through your guides. The less line you strip, the less water there is to freeze in your guides. As an added bonus of fishing with a set length of line, you'll have to sneak closer to your target. This will help with your casting accuracy, seeing the little flies we fish through the winter, and aid you in getting drag-free presentations.
Lately we've been fishing A LOT of 6X for nymphs, and at times 7X tippet has been essential for success when trying to fool our trout with tiny dry flies. For both winter nymphing and dry fly fishing, we've been running the RIO Powerflex Plus tippet material. It's stronger than fluorocarbon, the same diameter, and you can use it with both wet and dry flies. For most of my winter fishing, be it wet or dry, I use the RIO Suppleflex tippet material. It's a softer monofilament line, which allows me to get really good drag free drifts with any small nymphs, soft hackles, and dry flies.
If you have ever talked fishing with me, or you know me at all, you know I have a passion for fishing soft hackle flies. For what it's worth, my last couple trips to the river have been very productive, and it is because I've been fishing these flies on a slow swing through the slower, deeper holes and runs. As long as your soft hackles are sparse, and your drifts are good, you can get away with fooling fish on 6X tippet. The added bonus of fishing soft hackles over tiny dries is not having to fish a #24-#30 fly to find some willing fish, which makes for a more enjoyable winter outing!
Sow Bugs (#16-#18)
Soft Hackle Sow Bugs (#16, #20)
Zebra Midges (#16-#22)
Buckskin Nymph (#20,#22)
Bling Midge (#22)
Gray RS-2 (#20-#24)
Tailwater Assassin (#22)
Syl's Midge (#18)
Pulsating Emergers (#22)
Black Biot Soft Hackle (#24)
Soft Hackle Emergers (#22)
Prince Nymphs (#18)
Caddis Larva (#14-#20)
BH Hares Ears (#18)
Pheasant Tail Nymphs (#18-#22)
Trailing Shuck Midge (#24, #30)
Mother Shuckers (#20,#24)
Black Para. Midge (#22,#26)
Para. Adams (#20-#26)
Wounded Sculpin (#8)
Woolly Buggers (#8-#10)
Platte River Spiders (#4-#6)