Fall Streamer Fishing on The Provo
We get asked about fishing streamers on the Provo all the time, mainly because people say they never have any luck doing it and wonder why. So we figured we would put together a little guide to help everyone out.
The first thing to remember about fishing streamers on the Provo is that the number of 24+ inch fish is moderate at best. Sure, there are tons of trout(4500 fish per mile estimate by UT DNR) and a healthy population of 18-22" fish, but much bigger than that is hard to sustain in a medium-sized river. This means that big articulated streamers are usually over ambitious for the Provo and you should stick to smaller, single-hook streamers. Don't get me wrong, I have pulled a few hogs out of the Lower and the Middle on a size 2 Dungeon, but it's very few and far between. The better options are to go with something like Bugger and Zonker style streamers. We are about to release a video of our favorite Provo Fall Streamers, be sure to check it out on YouTube.
We are constantly asked about what size/wt. rod we use on the Provo for streamers and the easiest answer is whatever you have. If you can afford to have multiple rods setups, definitely go with a 9ft 6wt rod and 6wt reel. You can invest in a sink-tip line, but it's not a must. In fact, it may be the case that a floating line is more practical for the Provo because of its size. All that said, not everyone can afford to have a dedicated streamer rod, so your 9ft 4 or 5 weight is capable of throwing streamers. The size/weight of the streamer will need to be adjusted to fit with the rod. We will often only want to carry one rod, so we will take a 9ft 5wt, that way we can do everything with this one rod. We will take a box of (weighted)streamers that are between sizes 4-8.
When you're first starting out, try suspending a streamer under an indicator and let it dead-drift. This is not only an effective way of fishing streamers, but it will let you get the "feel" of the weight and your casting will be much better. Simply fish it just like a nymph under an indicator. When you feel that you're ready to start casting and stripping the streamer, get in a position where there's nothing behind you so you can back-cast. We usually tell our students to get in the river, face downstream and strip back upstream. Once you're comfortable with this, you can start fishing every direction(though downstream and quartering up and downstream are the most effective). How fast you strip it is going to vary from day to day. Sometimes the fish want the streamer to be stripped fast with very little pause and sometimes they want it to be stripped very little and slow(pull about 10" at a time).
The best places to fish streamers on the Provo are going to be areas that have cover and access to deep water fast. If you're on the Lower, look for places where the canyon walls extend into the water with low-hanging brush. You don't have to get under the brush(but if you can it's usually deadly), but you want to swim the streamer close to it. Some of our favorite areas to look for are in bends where the current is going to push bait/food right into the bank. We will get below the bend and cast directly into the current, then strip back towards us. Make sure to throw some pauses and jigs into your motions. If you're going out early in the morning(especially in the Fall like right now), look for places where the sun hits the water first. The bigger fish will move into these areas to get some sun on their backs and take prey when it comes close. This is also the best time to look for big fish up shallow on the banks.
Probably the most asked questions we get are on streamer selection and color. I can't do much more than tell you that color is more important than the pattern. If we're having a good day on a Golden Brown Wooly Sculpin, a Golden Brown Zonker will usually work just as well too. Don't be afraid to try odd colors too, sometimes a mix of colors that don't look natural at all will work great. Every variable with streamer fishing needs to be tried, this is very true with color. If you're fishing a black streamer and it's not working after about 15 minutes, switch colors. Sometimes we will go through 7-8 different colors before we find what works. Our best colors on the Provo are: Black w/ some flash- usually a pearl or green, Golden Brown- which may be our best of all time, White- white is very consistent during the Fall, even though there's not really any bright white prey in the Provo, Olive- Olive blends such as Simi Seal colors are a safe bet anytime, Natural- Natural Zonker strips are a big part of our streamer materials and they are good regardless of the weather/time of day, and Yellow- yellow is a weird one. It either works and it's on fire or fish will literally run from it. Try a yellow marabou accent on a Golden Brown Wooly Sculpin. Deadly on the Middle.
Our best patterns for the Provo can be narrowed down pretty easily. I am a huge fan of extravagant streamers with lots of materials, but they simply aren't necessary for a medium-sized river with limited food sources. Here is a list of what's in my streamer box 7 days a week;
- Weighted(cone head + lead) Wooly Sculpin, size 4- Golden Brown, Olive, and Natural(blend of tan, ginger, and natural der hair.
- CH Wooly Bugger, Olive, Black, and White, sizes 4-8. Dirt simple, but very effective.
- DH Zonker Sculpin, Olive and Natural. Sizes 2 and 4. We have started fishing this fly with a cone head and it's been great. It moves a lot and has a killer profile when wet.
- Big Junk, size 8 and occasionally 6. Olive and Brown are our best colors.
- Zonker style patterns are always good to have, such as Slump Busters and Zonker Minnows. Olive and White are good to have.
- Muddler Minnows, both regular w/ a cone and Marabou Muddlers w/ a cone. Black and White, sizes 6 and 8 are always good. You can fish these like nymphs and streamers and there's rarely a day(when we use them) that we don't pick up at least a couple fish on them. The size 6 White Marabou Muddler is quite possibly my best streamer of all time. It has netted fish for me on every single river I've used it.
I hope this helps you out and gives you a little more confidence when fishing streamers on the Provo. If you have any questions or want to tag along with us sometime when we fish the Provo, shoot us an email and we're happy to oblige.