Fly-Fishing Northern Utah Report
May 19, 2013
by Steve Schmidt
Conditions: Fly-fishing conditions for northern Utah continue to bounce around as we head into the Memorial Day and the last days of May. They still aren't near what they've been in the past several years and given our snowpack and weather they'll probabablly settle down to normal summer flows sooner rather than later. Even though some of our waters are starting to rise, we still have some very good fly-fishing opportunities.
This cool wet weather is awesome. As we head into drier summer months, we'll take all these cool wet days Mother Nature cares to serve up. After going up to 197 ft3/s last week, the Weber is holding. The flows put a damper on the incredible caddis hatches we had been enjoying on this river and Mother's Day Caddis aren't too fond of this weather pattern. Once it warms up again, I'm curious to see if there are still some around. Should they not show, water conditions, if flows hold, are quite good. Definitiely better than the very low flows that they ran on the Weber through the winter and into much of the spring.
The Green is steady for now. Still no change in flows after we got a scare from the Bureau. Spring releases have yet to occur, so we're still holding at 800 ft3/s. Terrestrials, ants and Cicadas when it was warm and sunny out generated some incredible dry fly fishing. We're hoping to enjoy a few more days of that once it dries out before the raise the water for the spring flush.
The Lower Provo and Middle Provo River are for the most part hanging in there. The Lower Provo River is running at 637 ft3/s. It's down a couple of hundred CFS from the bump it got last week. I'm sure the sudden release in flows was for irrigation during the hot weather. Now that it's cooled and we've been getting a lot of rain they're back to storing water.
The Middle Provo after jumping up a week ago up a little more, 302 ft3/s. Below the diversion it's in very good shape. For those not familiar with flows on the Middle, this is typically what they release through the summer. Jordanlle has a long way to go before it's full, so I'm not expecting much in the way of significant changes possible at all this year. We'll have to wait and see.
The weather is beautiful. It's cooling off some, which will bode well for all parties involved. We're going to have a few more fly-fishing opportunities as we finish up with spring and head into summer. We're on it, hope you are as well.
Insect Activity: Mother's Day Caddis, Skwalas, and ants are all still players and creating good fly fishing opportunities on a number of our waters. The Mothers Day Caddis on the Weber has been epic lately, but the recent flow changes I'm afraid have killed this hatch. We're still seeing some pretty decent hatches of caddis on the Middle Provo. Those not familiar with the this particular early season caddis will find that Mother's Day Caddis prefer warm days and generally hatch in the late afternoon into the early evening. This is a cased caddis. The adult is dark in color and a size #16 - #18. Generally we don't get an opportunity to fish this hatch because of spring run off, and after the recent flow increase on the Weber, we may have seen the last of the great fly-fishing this hatch has generated. We're also seeing some decent Mothers Day Caddis on the Middle Provo River. The hatch on the Provo River isn't near as prolific, but there are enough bugs that on the right day they're providing good dry fly, nymph and soft hackle opportunities.
On a number of our other streams we're also seeing a few Skwala's lingering. This isn't a very prolific hatch, but the fish get on them if they are around. This spring stonefly is similar to our caddis and prefer warm sunny days. Thanks to May's warming trend this stonefly showed up again. It's a big bug and if you're not sure whether the trout are keying on them or not, use a Skwala as a lead fly on a dropper rig. Typically it won't take long for you to figure out whether they been seeing enough stoneflies for them to be dialed in. Generally they pop in the riffle and pocket water, so make sure and focus on these water types when fishing your stonefly patterns. We saw some Skwalas on the Green River when I was there. Generally because of the prolific mayfly hatches this early season stonefly often slips by unnoticed.
The ants that we're seeing on the Green are cinnamon colored. This is a normal occurrence for this terrestrial that shows just before we start to see Cicadas. We've heard a few, but we're still a couple of weeks away before we'll know what kind of Cicada hatch we're in for. The good news is, flows are excellent on the Green and the weather is ideal for terrestrials.
For the middle of May we've got good bug options. If flows hold we could have another good week before this heat causes additional increases in flows. Stay tuned.
Fly Patterns for the northern Utah:
• Dry Flies: Parachute Adams, BWO Sparkle Dun, LC Cripple, Bullet Head Stonefly, PMX, Hi Vis Caddis, CDC Palmered Caddis, Slick Water Caddis, Fly Ant
• Nymphs: Juju Baetis, PT's, Mercer's Micro May, WD-40, Black Baetis Nymph, Copper John, Greg's Cased Caddis.
• Soft Hackles: Partridge and Green, Partridge and Hares Ear.
Techniques: Fly-fishing techniques for Northern Utah that are effective for May are streamers, dry flies, nymphs and Soft Hackles. For the time being! With the decent hatches we are still enjoying we have some options. Once run off impacts us, we'll be a little more limited as to the techniques that will produce.
With the Blue Wing hatches still being a factor nymph fishing and dry fly fishing are the more consistent techniques to use. Prior to the hatch getting underway you'll want to fish your nymphs 3'-4' deep. Once the bugs get more active and you start to see some adults, to have continued good success, you should fish your flies more shallow or switch to dry flies and emergers. At this juncture if you don't switch to surface flies, use a 5X dropper with your nymphs or hard to see emergers near the surface. A Parachute Adams is a good fly as a lead fly in this rig, or if it's a warm sunny day on the Green, these trout find it hard to refuse an attractor fly. Trout will follow their food and at some point there's going to be more food congregated near the surface than there is closer to the bottom. Trout will also start to migrate to more shallow lies, so look before you leap. Late in the day, its common to find hundreds of trout congregated in the rivers large eddies sipping drowned adults, spinners or cripples. Depending on the day, these selective trout can keep you occupied into the evening hours.
In addition to fishing your baetis nymphs, you should also start fishing Green Drake, PMD and Golden Stonefly patterns. These bugs are not too far away from popping and are definitely active. We won't see the adults become a factor until run-off is over and flows settle down, but their nymphs will.
For dry flies and emergers, my favorite fly-fishing game, you'll do best if you use 4X to 6X tippets depending on the size of the flies you are fishing. Blue Wings are pretty small at this late stage of the game. On these sunny days where fish are keying on mayfly adults or emergers you'll be better served by fishing 6X tippets. As I've mentioned in my earlier reports, I also like to fish Trout Hunter tippet in 5.5X in these situations. Good stuff!
For most of the dry fly fishing now, you'll be fine with 5X on your dry flies and emergers. For nymphs other than big stonefly patterns, 5X will also be good. The larger patterns you can get by with 4X. At the moment, a 7 1/2' leader is good for nymph fishing. For dry flies, I prefer longer leaders. Generally I fish a 10' leader. I like a long section of tippet on my dry fly leaders, so I'll often take a little off my leader then add 3' or more of my desired tippet. This really helps me get better drifts in those tricky areas where often the more challenging trout live.
When ever there are decent hatches, Soft Hackles always will produce. Some days they are the most effective technique. A couple of our favorite patterns with mayfly and caddis hatches are the Partridge and Green and the Partridge and Hares Ear. If you are just getting into fly-fishing this is a great technique to work on your cast and catch trout. It's definitly a lot more enjoyable than dealing with nymphing rigs: indicators, droppers and split shot. You'll be able to work on your cast, have fewer tangles and on many occasion see the trout take your fly since you swim the fly near the surface. For those who have been at this game for a while, its simply a great and very relaxing way to have success when fly-fishing for trout. If you're not familiar with fly-fishing using Soft Hackles, or any technique for that matter, stop in and we'll get you dialed in. We also offer Soft Hackle Fly-fishing classes.
Regardless of the way you enjoy fishing with flies, we have some good days ahead. We're all anxious for summers hatches, but for the time being we're enjoying the weather and the good fishing it's producing.
Shop Talk: We have a variety of classes going on throughout the year. If you want to get in on one of Nick Fly-Fishing 101 classes you better check your calendar and sign up. His first one in April is full. His other classes now that the weather is warming up are also beginning to fill. Towards the end of the month we have another specialty casting class. This one is to improve your " Casting Efficiency. This class is April 27th. For this and other class we have going on check out our website or please feel free to stop in or give us a call: (801)521-6424.
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Guide Service: We have been guiding in Utah since 1986. We run a small guide service so as to not impact our resources and your fly-fishing experience. If you want to learn more about fly-fishing the Green River, Provo River or fly-fishing in the state of Utah, our staff, and our professional and personal guides will take the time to help you make the most out of your fly-fishing experience. I can think of few other ways than taking a Guided Fly-fishing trip to optimze your valuable time on the water with one of our licensed and insured Western River Guides.
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