Guys, the fishless, cold days of winter are finally behind us! Great fishing, warmer weather, and longer days wait ahead. For some of us, we know it’s spring because the calendar tells us, some of us, it’s a feeling in the air, and for some of us, it’s an event. For me, it’s the latter category; it’s the first good BWO hatch on the Provo. It’s like the whole river has been lying in wait, just waiting. Through the whole winter, your only prayer of catching a fish in nymphing, and even then, the chances are not if your favor most of the time. But after all those fishless days, frozen guides, frozen fingers, and knot-tying struggles, the BWO’s come. The river suddenly wakes up and you know those days are behind you. You take off your strike indicator and split shot, tie on a dainty dry fly, gink it up and start head hunting the first risers of the year. Fish are rising everywhere, and you start to catch fish after fish. There is simply nothing like after a long winter of nymphing, to go straight to amazing dry fly fishing.
This year, our spring break coincided with the hatch quite well. What this meant for me, is, (aside from a few shifts at work) a whole week of slaying fish on dry flies. And that’s exactly what I did, The days would start off slow, but then suddenly seemingly from nowhere, a huge hatch happens. The first day this happened, I cut off the nymphs I was using before and tie on a BWO dry and puff daddy emerger, and make a few casts, then BOOM! I’m tied into a solid brown. After a quick picture and release, I re-greased my flies and got back at it. About three casts later, yet another solid brown.
I repeat the process of taking a picture, releasing the fish, and re-greasing my flies, then got back to fishing. Yet again, a few casts later, I’m tied into a little rainbow. After a quick picture and release, I decided only to take pictures of the noteworthy fish. This alone ended up saving me tons of time over the course of the day. The only other picture worthy fish from that hole was a personal best bow on the fly. It came while I was picking off risers one by one. There was one fish that was rising every little while, so, naturally, I casted at him. He slurped my little emerger off the top, I hesitated, then set the hook. He immediately met this with a nice leap into the air. I saw him in all his glory. About 17-18”, and like many of the Provo bows, quite chunky. He fought hard and seemed to spend more time in the air than in the water. He finally let me lift his head and scoop him up. I got a few pictures of the chunky fish, then released him back to the depths.
While still in that first pool, I caught about five or so more fish, then moved on after spooking them enough to put them down. The next little riffle I fished produced three fish, that same riffle usually doesn’t even give up one on a good day. But this was no “good” day, the BWOs were blanketing the river, the scenery was amazing, and fish were rising in every direction. After hitting a few small pools, runs, riffles, and seams, I waded up to the next hole. I found myself in a huge pool, with a back eddy at the top, plenty of slack water, and no lack of rising fish. My first cast yielded a nice brown, as did my second, and my fourth. This is where the fishing got crazy. At the top of the run, where the back eddy was, there were some big browns sifting through the foam, and a few more picking off duns and emergers in the seam alongside it. After sneaking in position, I casted at my first target in the foam. I saw his back as he drifted close to my flies. Without much hesitation he slurped up my emerger, I counted “one thousand, two thousand” and it was on. It was a solid brown, about 16”. I didn’t waste any time getting back into position, and it was back to head-hunting.
That is when I saw him, about 30 feet away in the seam was a huge brown rising occasionally. I checked my knots, found them to be strong, and casted. That first cast landed about a foot to the left of him, so I let it drift by before delivering the next cast. The next cast was just right, it landed about a foot or two ahead of him, and then the pressure was on. He lazily looked at it, then turned around to follow it downstream. He slowly followed it for about six feet before drawing close enough to make a decision. Then I saw the small slurp, “one thousand, two thousand” and then I set the hook, and he decided he didn’t want to have anything to do with me, he took off, making my drag sing that beautiful melody. He fought hard and long before I finally got him the net. I took him to the shallows for a picture, and after one picture of him snaking around in my net, he did some amazing maneuver that launched him into the air and out of my net. He wasted no time taking off back into the depths. Leaving me with one slightly blurry picture of what is my current personal best brown on a dry fly. At about 20-21”, he smashed my previous best by about 3”.
After the completely intentional release, I got right back at it. I managed to sight cast to, and catch a few more nice fish. I had to leave the Provo right after fishing that hole but returned several more times to fish the BWO hatch. At least for me, spring is here, and it’s only uphill from here. I can now say goodbye to the fishless days of winter and look forward to a long year of fishing.