Weekend Angler: Salt Lake City

The Provo
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Provo Practicalities

Species: Mostly brown trout in the lower section with rainbow and cutthroats every now and again throughout the river. Browns average about 10-14 inches but you have a decent chance at browns much bigger than that.

Tackle: An 8-9 foot rod for 3-5 weight line. Felt-soled waders (cleats if the water is up). You'll want neoprene chest waders in winter, lightweight chest waders or hip waders in summer.

Flies: Yellow Stimulator #14-#16, Black Stimulator #8-#12, Peacock Stimulator #6-#12, Cicada #10-#12, X-Caddis #10-#14, Elk Hair Caddis #12-#18, Hemingway Caddis #16-#18, Adams #12-#18, Light Cahill #16-#18, Salmonfly patterns, Griffith's Gnat #14-#16, Z-wing Caddis #14-#18, Baetis #16-#20, Rusty Spinner #18-#20, Sparkle Dun #18-#20, Pale Morning Dun #14-#18, Hopper #6-#10, Ants, Beetles, Yellow Sallies, Stonefly patterns, Green Drake, Caddis Pupa and emergers (like Chamois Caddis, Ginger Pupa, Diving Caddis, etc.), Black Baetis Nymph #18, Olive WD-40 #18, Mercers Micro Mayfly #18, Pt's #18, #10 Cadillac Stone, Peacock Biot Stone #8, Lawson's Green Drake Nymph #12, Sow Bug #14-#18, Prince Nymph #12-#18, Pheasant Tail #14-#18, and various streamer patterns (check with local fly shops). Fish dropper rigs and streamers if you want to consistently catch trout on the Provo. Streamers work well when the water has a bit of color.

Regulations: Most of the river is restricted to artificial flies and lures only. The river has strict and varying regulations so be sure to check before you hit the water.

Fly shops: Great Basin Fly & Outfitters, Provo, (801) 375-2424; Spinner Fly Shop, Salt Lake City, (801) 583-2602; Western Rivers Flyfisher, Salt Lake City, (801) 521-6424; Anglers Inn, Salt Lake City, (801) 466-3927.

Directions: Route 189 follows the river for much of its course in the lower section, and this is where the river gets pounded by anglers, especially in the public access areas.

Lodging: There are plenty of campgrounds up and down the Provo River. In Provo, you'll find lots of moderate-level motels including the Fairfield Inn Marriott, (800) 228-2800. In Heber City, try Viking Lodge, (800) 544-4066. In nearby Midway, the Homestead, (800) 327-7220, is a quaint place to stay. And Sundance offers 1-3 bedroom cottage suites, (800) 892-1600. In Salt Lake City, you can stay in any of a hundred hotels, motels, lodges, and bed & breakfasts. You can find exactly what you want by calling one of these: Utah Reservation Service, (800) 557-8824; Utah Travel Council, (801) 538-1030; Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau and Information Center, (800) 222-UTAH.

Suggested reading: Utah Fishing Guide, by Steve Cook (Utah Outdoors); Hunting and Fishing Utah, by Hartt Wixom (Wasatch Publishing).

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The Provo River is a year-round tailwater canyon stream that originates inthe Uinta Mountains, meanders through the Heber Valley, collects inJordanelle and Deer Creek Reservoirs, and ends up in Utah Lake.


The Provo was once known as the West's premier brown trout river. Then channelization, heavy angling pressure, water diversion, and a handful of other problems sent the river into decline. Since then, regulations and renewed environmental consciousness have led to a comeback of the brown trout population. The biggest browns can even reach 28-30 inches.

This once-great brown trout fishery has lots of pocket water, runs, often fast androily, with riffles, deep pools and long glides, and flatwater. The sectionsbelow the impoundments fish small like typical tailraces. The Provo runs past gorgeous mountains, agricultural fields, and through a stunning canyon, providing over 60 miles of quality fishing.

The Provo is loaded with heavy brown trout but getting to their lairs is the challenge. The Provo is a fertile river, loaded with scuds, sow bugs, aquatic worms, midges, sculpin and golden stones, along with the usual array of mayflies and caddis. Think nymphs and streamers and think underwater.

Browns and 'Bows and Cutts

Along the Provo, anglers will find hidden beaver ponds, streamside willows tocatch their flies, and thick forests. The Provo River holds wild brown, rainbow, and native cutthroat trout.

The browns average 12-16 inches with plenty of trout reaching 20 inches long and like any brown trout water worth its reputation, the Provo holds some lunker brown trout as well, famous for its five-pound-plus big boys.

The Provo River is often crowded, or at least it seems that way, and is only an hour south of Salt Lake City. There is plenty of public access. But if you see anglers knee deep in its tricky-to-wade waters, just drive a bit further, find a turnout, and you'll discover your own section.

There are three general sections of the river; six miles below Deer CreekReservoir, the lower Provo; six miles above Deer Creek and below Jordanelle Reservoir, the middle Provo; and above Jordanelle Reservoir, which is private water serviced by outfitters and guides.

Access can be found at Charleston Bridge in Charleston, along Midway Lane between Heber and Midway, downstream from Hwy. 40 near Midway Junction, below Jordanelle Dam. Above Jordanelle Reservoir, the river is mostly private water but at Rock Cliff Recreation Area, there is a bit of public water (on the east shore of Jordanelle Reservoir) and a day use area.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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