The Upper Provo River flows from the high mountain streams of the Uinta Mountains to Jordanelle Reservoir in the Wasatch Mountains. This mountain freestone is a wonderful place to get away from the fly jockeys that want to hit the Middle or Lower stretches of the Provo and get back to the root of Fly-Fishing small streams.
Getting to the Upper Provo itself is fairly simple. From Heber City head North on Highway 40 to the light on River Road/SR 32 and turn East towards Kamas. Follow SR 32 for about 8 miles. SR 32 wraps around Jordanelle Reservoir and crosses the Upper Provo River near its inlet with the Reservoir. Here is the lowest point of the Upper Provo. From here until you get into the National Forest the River passes in and out of Private Property. From SR 32 the river follows along the Lower River Road that cuts off right before getting to Oakley. The river then cuts through the hills and mountains and meets up with Highway 150 from Kamas, the Mirror Lake Highway, and follows close to that highway to its headwaters.
At the inlet into Jordanelle, at Rock Cliff State Park, the fishing can be great, especially in the time right before spawns. But the fishing around that area is short-lived due to the river very quickly entering private property. If you can get permission to fish through that property you should be in for a treat, bigger fish with very, very little pressure. Once you get on the Mirror Lake Highway and enter the National Forest, you can fish any stretch of the river that you want to or are brave enough to hike down to, in places. The Upper Provo cut its way through a rugged mountain range, it’s difficult to forget this while hiking down to the river.
Most places along this river will allow for distance to cast and the ability to stay back and hidden from the fish, which comes in very handy when the water turns crystal clear! For the lower stretches a 9' 5 wt is a great rod, it gives you the power to push the fly across the river and if you're lucky to get into a fish big enough, the rod will handle it without a problem. The upper stretches, any 3 wt rod is key. The fish in the river get smaller the higher up you go, the smaller weight rod will be perfect for those battles.
The fish in the lower stretches are more difficult to catch than the fish in the upper stretches. Hatches become a little more consistent and larger the further down the river you go. Standard midge, mayfly, and caddis patterns work well, as well as stoneflies. In the upper stretches, terrestrials are beautiful and will encourage even the wiliest of fish to rise. Fish in the upper stretches are opportunistic and will readily take most things that are offered.
While fishing, be prepared, and a bit cautious, you never know what you might run into. Moose call the Uinta Mountains home and for being as large as they are, are more than capable of hiding in the willows until you stumble upon them. Bear also claim the mountains as home, be prepared! The wildlife and scenery of this section of the Provo River make up for anything the other sections have that this one does not.
While not as well known as the Middle and Lower Sections, the Upper Provo is a gem in her own right. Widely overlooked by the fly-fishing community, it's one of our favorite rivers to take new fishermen to. It offers space to cast and fish that are more than forgiving. As always, Good Luck and Guid Luck!