By Bob Johnson
.....Holy brown trout Batman, these fish are going bonkers! STRIKE!@@!! POW***!!!### BAM!!##
Brilliant deduction Boy Wonder! As far as I'm concerned the Provo's the best kept secret this side of Jokerville. Or is it Snyderville? I get confused. Anyway, I know some fellow Gotham City Fly Flingers that would swap a ride in the batmobile for a day like we're having....
"What did you say there, Bob?" "Are you mumbling again?"
"Oh D.J.!" "Uhhh, I was just saying that this is incredible fishing, right?"
I thought to myself, man o' man, you're day dreaming again and this is not a real safe place to do that. These sixties flashbacks can be downright dangerous when you're wading in waist deep water on a chilly fall afternoon!
Hey, let's face it. It's hard not to let yourself drift off a bit when you have a river as spectacular as the Provo in your own backyard. It's full of wild, beautiful brown trout and they just love to sip on itsy bitsy mayflies. This is the stuff dreams are made of.
Picture it for yourself. You've been following a grassy little trail and just as you round the bend you spot what must be at least a dozen nice fish. They are so close that you can see their golden yellow bellies and bright red spots. A couple of them look like they might even top 20 inches and they're chasing down little yellow mayflies like it's their last supper. Ahhh! Maybe you've died and gone to heaven.
Or how about this one. It's about ten minutes before total darkness. Caddis flies are flapping in your face and crawling down your neck and fish are jumping everywhere. It looks like some kind of miniature Sea World show. Fish are porpousing out of the water, fanning the surface with their tails and generally being very piggish in their table manners. Just then you spot your fly drifting right in to... Oh yes, yes, yes!!!
Have you ever cast a big ol' black woolly bugger at a tangled mess of willows and through some kind of divine intervention, it actually shoots right up under the branches and plunks itself down at the back of the hole? It dives under the surface and as the line begins to tighten from the current your heart begins to race. You know that all it's going to take is a couple of quick twitches on the line and .... BOOM! This story is one to be told the next day at the fly shop. "Well, there I was...."
These kinds of stories occur again and again on this sermi-urban river that runs from the High Uintas, through the picturesque Heber Valley and eventually down Provo Canyon and into Utah Lake. Can you believe that when the pioneers came to the valley, native cutthroat trout, some weighing as much as 60 pounds would find their way out of Utah Lake in the spring to spawn up and down the river? Just this last summer a twelve pound brown was caught and gracefully returned to the river. Dry fly fishing during June and July this last year was phenomenal.
This just might be the finest brown trout stream in the country! Don't get me wrong — this is not a testimonial to convince you to fish the Provo. Far be it for me to incur that kind of wrath from those that already call the Provo home.
It is simply an appeal to anglers and river lovers along the Wasatch Front to stop and consider the value of this resource. If this stream was in Idaho or Montana it would be set aside as a national treasure. For the better part of a century this river has been systematically abused and destroyed. It has been detoured, dewatered, and trashed with little regard for its future. It has been poisoned by oil spills and plundered by poachers. You'd think the signs along the river read "LANDFILL — PLEASE LEAVE ALL DISPOSABLE DIAPERS, STYROFOAM COFFEE CUPS AND CHEESE BAIT CONTAINERS AT THIS SPOT — THANK YOU"
In spite of these problems, the past years have produced spectacular fishing. Ask Rocky Ronglie, a professional guide and angler, about tangling with a 24 inch beauty just before dusk on a warm summer evening. My friend Dave Card even caught a record size walleye fishing streamers above Charleston last fall.
This river is too valuable to lose. It faces challenges and battles on every front: massive road projects, channelization efforts, incredibly high and low water flows, public access problems.... If we let this river die it would be an unncecessary and very staggering loss.
Even the planting of cutthroat and rainbow trout by the Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) might lead to the eventual loss of this unique wild brown trout fishery.
What can you do to help? First of all, you can support Congressman Wayne Owens' measures for maximum and minimum stream flows. Send a letter to the governor, the DWR or the Bureau of Reclamation expressing your feelings about wild fish, free flowing water or concrete stream channels.
The potential damage from proposed high water flows when the CUP is finished might be the final chapter on this fishery. Hey, write a protest song! Organize a march! J. Edgar is gone now and it's okay to stand up for what you believe. Maybe you could convince your parents that Robert Redford is one of Utah's great assets.
If you're not much for politics, you could spend an hour with a friend picking up some of the ugly and potentially damaging trash that other have left. Make a donation to the Utah Trout Foundation or teach a friend the value of not killing all the fish you catch.
Here's an idea for you. Take it upon yourself to conserve water. Learn to water your lawn properly. Don't wash your driveway — learn to use a broom. If you care and are willing to stand up and be counted, you really can make a difference.
You can also spend some time getting to know the secrets of the Provo River. They are not readily revealed, but time on the river does provide answers. Each time you fish the river you will pick up valuable little tidbits of information that you can tuck away somewhere for future reference.
You might consider them as story titles for future excursions. There are a thousand stories waiting at each bend and turn. All you have to do is get out and experience the river for yourself. It's all there and it's waiting to share it's stories with anyone willing to sit on a grassy bank and watch it happen. Who knows what day dreams abound?
...... Yooooou dirty rat! You'se guys got one more chance now. You lousy bums let this one slip through your paws and you're dead meat!