NORTHERN UTAH REPORTS
Updated: March 20th, 2020
By: Nick Teynor
Happy Spring, Everyone!
Between viruses and earthquakes, there may not seem like there is very much to celebrate right now, but we do have things to look forward to. Our snow pack is good, our local waters are in great shape, and the best fishing of the year is yet to come. So, let's keep the faith, wash our hands, be kind to each other, and let's get ready for a great fishing season! The rivers, lakes, and streams are pretty quiet now, but once our situation improves, there will be plenty of anglers looking to get some time on the water after being cooped up in quarantine. In order for all of us to have a good time on the water, it is vital that we [anglers] adhere to good river 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 149 CFS out of Jordanelle Reservoir, and 121 CFS at River Road Bridge. Our Middle Provo fish are still sheltering out in deeper, slower water for the early spring season, and the "Buffalo" midge hatch is getting better as March progresses. When the big midges aren't around, 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. It is still a safe bet to say that our Blue-Winged Olive mayflies won't be seen in consistent numbers until late March or early April, 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 299 CFS. This is a higher-than-normal spring fishing flow, and at these flows, the fish will seek out shoreline structure (rocks, logs, seam lines, etc.), and any deeper slots and holes they can find. I drove down to the Lower last Thursday, and even though it was sunny and warm, the water temperature was still very chilly. Walking the rivers edge, looking for rising fish, and sight-nymphing, was the name of the game. I also saw my first Blue Wing Olive mayflies of the Spring, but it was not a thick hatch, nor did it last long. If you check it out, make sure you have Sow Bugs, a variety of small midge larva, midge pupa, midge adult patterns, BWO nymphs, BWO dry flies, and small attractor nymphs. If all else fails, try using streamers to move some fish.
The Weber between Wanship and Coalville is flowing at 180 CFS at Wanship, and 240 CFS at Coalville. This is a higher than normal flow for the Weber for this time of year, but it should make the nymph and streamer fishing productive. With any bump in flows, fish will seek out structure along the edges, and any slow seams they can find. Below Echo Reservoir the release is now 275 CFS. This bump in flows opens up the river below Echo all the way to Mountain Green, and it should be in fishable shape. Good Weber River flies to have in your boxes for this time of year are smaller attractor nymphs, Caddis larva, Midge Dries, Zebra Midges, Baetis nymphs, Baetis dries, 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 1,300 CFS-2,120 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 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 late-winter and early spring has been productive during the daily bump in flows, and this is especially true if you are doing a 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.
While the fish are eating hatching midges, and the dry fly fishing can be good to great this time of year, it doesn't mean the fishing will be easy. In order to maximize your success, try focusing on casting to the rising fish closest to you, and then move on once you catch it, or spook it. Also, get as close to your target with your feet first, and then focus on fishing with a set length of line. As an added bonus of fishing with a set length of line, it 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)