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Last week a couple of friends and I were fishing a local river which was just starting to come out of the winter doldrums - flows were creeping up and there was a tinge of color to the water. My friends were Euro nymphing and catching good numbers of fish on stonefly, annelid, and midge larva patterns. I tried swinging small streamers and stonefly patterns, but other than a couple of bumps didn't have much luck.

I think part of the issue was that the fish were sitting pretty deep in pools, out of currents that were conducive to swinging a fly (at least with my limited experience), but I'm curious to hear how others might approach the situation. The water was also pretty cold, so maybe the fish weren't active enough to chase a fly. I am terrible at nymphing (I tried for a while, but had little faith in it), and I'd like to catch the fish swinging flies if I can.
 

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fly fisher 'til it's over
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If your mates are catching 'em deep, then you'd better have on a tip that gets you in the zone. Slow your swing by mending upstream.

Either that, or get busy with your nymphing.
 

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depends on the water speed, and what the term "deep" means in your instance. my first suggestion would be to switch to brighter brighter flies and try to excite them.
 

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In my limited experience... For stocked trout I use dark (most often black), very sparsely tied streamers on the fastest sinking tip necessary to reach the bottom. For wild/native trout I use very bright (often pink) , sparsely tied streamers. Fishing the fly this low really limits the duration of useful swing. Most of my hits occur just as the line comes tight and the swing begins. And you have to work down through the holding water (slot, seam, pool, etc.) ridiculously slow... Cast, half a step down, and cast. Fishing this way often loses me quite a few flies in one session, but is the only way I've been able to get bit. Or bite the bullet and go nymphing. There's no shame in it. Good luck!
 

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Build out a euro nymph rig and take it to small streams. Once you get the hang of it you will out fish most guys on the river. Its a good small stream tactic.
 

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yeah... but it's not swinging.
and if you're not swinging, you're just catching fish.

what would I do?
give that place a miss next time and return to where you had some success on the swing.
there's millions of fish we can't get access to on the swing... go on, ask me how I know.

cheers,
shawn
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the replies, everyone. I could try to get into Euro nymphing, but I'd rather not - I fish streamers and swing flies because that's how I most enjoy fly fishing. When I'm not ducking as streamers or Skagit heads whistle past my ears, I'm throwing 6 - 12" swimbaits, generally at night, waiting for that one big bite. Are they the most effective ways to fish? Definitely not, but they definitely put a smile on my face when I do hook something. :grin2:

I will have to give the low and slow approach a try with sparse dark or sparse bright flies. Most of the fish in this river are wild (though all, at some point, are descended from hatchery stocks - they're rainbows and browns in CO after all), and in other portions of the river I've had pretty much equal success with dark (most often black) and bright (yellow, white, or gold) flies. In terms of depth, I'd say the pools where the fish were holding were 3 - 6'. It's going to be fun figuring these waters out...and then runoff is going to kick in full throttle and everything will change. :smile2:
 

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I'm with Roballen. Tough for me to give any insight, without knowing what the water looks like. If you have to go deep, there are methods to do so, ( i.e. cast directly across the river, big mend up, let sink with weighted fly as you take your steps down stream, swing, retrieve as you get close to the bank to keep off of the bottom, for example ) However, if there are boulders along the bottom, you will still get hung up, so adjust.

However, chances are you will not out fish, or keep up with the numbers, that the czech/euro nymphers are getting.

Pound
 

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This winter I have been using a euro set up but instead of nymphs I've just been drifting/jigging a single streamer. Lance Egan has a video on it, search youtube for 'Streamer Fishing with a Euro Nymphing Rig'.

Since I am a swing guy (that likes to carry a single rod) I've been using a Cabelas CZN 10' 3wt lined with 25lb Lazar line and a 175 grn OPST head for swinging streamers on little sinktips. But in my tips wallet I have a 2' Umpqua bi-colored 3x mono sighter that I can loop directly to my running line.

When the swing is not happening, or the flow's not conducive to the swing, boom, swap out the head/tip for the colored sighter, add 6' of 4x to the tippet ring, then add your jig-style streamer. (probably could just run the tippet off of the running line since its high vis anyway but I like the contrasting colors for tracking)

A 2" black marabou leech on a jig hook with a silver 4mm tungsten bead seems to work best on my waters. Lance uses actual jig hooks with slotted beads. I just take a #8 2X nymph hook and bend the shank just behind the eye down 45 degrees with pliers for the same effect.

 
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This winter I have been using a euro set up but instead of nymphs I've just been drifting/jigging a single streamer. Lance Egan has a video on it, search youtube for 'Streamer Fishing with a Euro Nymphing Rig'.

......

Trout!!!! The Czech nymphers are coming! The Czech nymphers are coming! Sound the alarm!

I watched a couple of Lance Egan videos. I loved the way he aerial flipped small trout into the partially frozen soft net -- Largemouth bass tournament style. Funny to watch.

I can readily imagine how this set up would be deadly on steelhead in smaller systems. Then slinky-style rigs, popularized in the Great Lakes, where lead or tungsten weights are housed in parachute cord are also very deadly. (As opposed to slinky leaders which are sometimes used in the Euro-nymphing method.)

I would encourage those who want to experiment with these methods to do so. And then to reconsider the method once you master it. All the keen, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and experienced anglers I have known over the decades have at one time or other experimented with and mastered high expected catch rate methods and then stopped using them. As a personal aesthetic choice.
 
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To those of you who live and fish in the drop dead gorgeous state of Utah, a question about the Provo River if I may.


What are your thoughts on the stocking rates in the Provo River? Drove over and along the Provo River once en route to the Green from the San Juan but never fished the Provo. I understand that it is a highly productive tailwater fishery but from having viewed several videos, most of the trout strike me as small.

Drastically cutting the stocking rates should result in fewer, larger trout, or is natural recruitment sufficient to maintain these high densities of trout?

Just curious.
 

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To those of you who live and fish in the drop dead gorgeous state of Utah, a question about the Provo River if I may.


What are your thoughts on the stocking rates in the Provo River? Drove over and along the Provo River once en route to the Green from the San Juan but never fished the Provo. I understand that it is a highly productive tailwater fishery but from having viewed several videos, most of the trout strike me as small.

Drastically cutting the stocking rates should result in fewer, larger trout, or is natural recruitment sufficient to maintain these high densities of trout?

Just curious.
Yes according to the Utah DWR the river is overpopulated with brown trout (all natural recruitment) and that has caused its decline in terms of average size. I was not around for the glory days but I know Marty could tell us what it was like. The DWR has tried to encourage anglers to harvest more trout (daily limit 2 under 15") but that campaign didn't really seem to get much traction. They even released a small population of otters on the middle Provo to help thin the herd.

They used to stock some Utah native Bonneville Cutthroat, not sure when that was discontinued.

They also stock Deer Creek reservoir with hatchery rainbows annually but I have not heard of or seen them stock rainbows in the river since around 2000. The rainbows below Deer Creek are on the hefty side compared to the skinnier browns.

If you fish around some other brown trout fisheries in the area it doesn't take long to see the average size difference. Then again they don't have the same year round flows, density or usage rate as the Provo.
 

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Thanks Tyson.

Cut the current average catch rate in half or even more and it would still be a really good fishery.

Two under 15 inches? That doesn't sound like enough. Six under 18 inches would get people's attention. That's enough for the hot smoker! ;-)

So, is this an example of the widely adopted and supported catch and release social convention being too successful?

Weaving in some harvest is good political insurance should the environmental movement re-think current support of catch and releasing or should Fish Rights activists come gunning for CNR angling. (And they will.) Sell CNR as 'selective harvest'. It has a nice ecological ring to it. Good marketing potential.

Curious, did anybody ever suggest introducing Bull charr into the river to reduce the trout population? That kind of exotic introduction might be out of the question these days but not so long fish and wildlife agencies did far crazier things.
 

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Definitely CNR culture. I forgot to mention they also opened up the section above Deer Creek to the first bridge to bait fishing, controversial at the time.

Bulls would be an interesting experiment. Not sure it has the right temps or water quality for them but like you say there is potential to produce some quality fish with the right balance.

Sent from my LG-TP260 using Tapatalk
 

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I was not around for the glory days but I know Marty could tell us what it was like.
Back in the day it was not uncommon to catch 2 or 3 20+ Browns during a good hatch. My largest fish taken from the Provo was a 24 inch Brown. The fish on average have gotten smaller and the big fish are few and far between. They reconstructed the middle sections, taking away a lot of the deep pools. They also keep water flowing year round. They used to dewater a lot of the middle section. The Upper Provo has not changed and the Lower Provo still produces as it has for the 40 years I have been fishing it. What has changed the most is the sensitivity of the resident population of trout. Back in the day size 12 was a common size for a nymph. Now you have to fish 18 - 20s.

This bait section on the Middle Provo is my favorite. For some reason, most of the fly fishing crowd leave it to the bait slingers. The past few weeks I have had days with little to no pressure from other anglers. They do not plant the middle and lower sections of the Provo. There are however lake run rainbows and browns coming up from both Deer Creek and Jordenelle. The Provo is an awesome fishery.

As for swinging flies in the spring, there are a few factors to take into account. Fish on rivers like the Provo, because of fishing pressure will hide in the deeper pools. They do venture out when there is a strong hatch of midge or BWOs, but for the most part, if it is bright the fish will not be in the fishable swing water. On cloudy days it is game on. Two days ago I was fishing the Lower. Never saw a fish until the sun went down behind the mountain. The next hour or so every fish in the river was up taking midge and spinners off the surface. For the fun of it, I swung up a few. they were on the grab as well. It is all about comfort. Big hatch, cloudy day or after the sun goes down the swing is on, even during the winter.
 
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