With mild weather in and around Park City this February, the fly fishing on our two most popular tailwaters, the Provo and Weber Rivers, has been outstanding. There has been an increase of people on the water since the skiing and other winter activities are a little short on snow. This is also the time of year that people start looking forward to spring and getting outside.
The lower Provo River is running at 100 cfs and the middle Provo at 150 cfs. This is normal for this time of year. Both the lower and middle are fishing well with small bugs. When I say small I am talking about size 22 – 28. My go-to dry fly pattern for right now has been a Sprout Midge in gray and the Sprout BWO. Dry dropper combos with other midge and small mayflies work well when there are trout keyed on micro bugs.
If you are heading to the Provo make sure you keep it small and pay attention to the reaction of the fish that you can see when throwing dries. Did the fish look? Refuse? Chase? Or just totally ignore your fly? Watch the rise forms and try to determine if they are feeding under the surface, the waterline, or on top and then adjust the flies you are using once you are sure you have a good drift. Watch that little indicator on your dry fly in relation to the flies and foam on the water. This gives you a visual indication of what is happening.
There is a lot of construction on the middle Weber River right now. Irrigation pipes are being run across the river in some spots and this is producing some murky waters. Fish are feeding primarily sub-surface, with some sporadic rises throughout the day and increasing in the evening as the shadows extend over the water. The lower water level contributes to spooky fish.
I have been fishing nymphs on an inline rig opposed to a bounce rig in order to fish the lighter water flow and spook less fish. The fish are concentrated in some of the larger pools, so hooking up a splashy, jumping trout can put the rest of the fish on edge.
My searching nymph for the Weber is the prince nymph (un-weighted); if in doubt give this pattern a try. Scuds and sow bugs are a constant menu item in this river as well. I had a great time fishing back to my starting point with streamers. Fish were actively chasing and made for some exciting takes. Gold and brown buggers and Dirty Hippies both produced fish.
Small Fly and Light Tippet Hacks
Fishing bugs this small can be difficult for some anglers to not only tie on, but also to see on the water. I suggest using a bigger dry as an indicator fly or tie on a small piece of indicator yarn. I do this by tying a double surgeon’s loop in my leader about 18 inches from my fly. Keep the knot further up the tapered leader or on a heavier section of tippet. For those who use the New Zealand system, the plastic sleeve works great too.
Another quick fix for being able to see small flies on the water’s surface are the pinch-on indicators. When fishing these tiny flies 7x and 6x tippet is the go-to size and fishing with a slower action or lighter rod helps protect the light tippet during the fight.
Private Property Etiquette
The Weber River has some great public access and a lot of private areas. Make sure you know where you are on the river and ask landowners for permission if you want to fish private spots. Written permission is not as hard to get as you think and opens up a lot of water.
Most of these landowners have been burned in the past by people leaving trash, opening gates and cutting fences, but if you stop and let them know you will respect their property most are happy to allow access. The key with building relationships with landowners is following up afterwards and telling them how you did with a heartfelt “Thank you!”
If you are looking to take advantage of the weather and get out on the water before the cold temps and snows hit again, now is the time.
Travis Jay Vernon, Fly Fishing Guide & Sales Associate