By Dave Webb

Have you ever reached the point where you really NEEDED to go fishing?. Fishing, to me, is therapeutic. It's a tension reliever. A chance to forget the troubles of life and just enjoy.

I needed to go fishing the other day. Things had been gaining up on me. A new boss at work... a little challenge with the kids at home... a new responsibility at church. Life can get complicated if you don't watch out.

A touch of cabin fever made my situation even worse. Late winter has always seemed a drab season to me.. The air gets thick with haze and fog and gunk. Even the snow gets dirty and grainy. Gray walls and gray skies and gray snow. The city becomes almost unbearable.

Strong high pressure dominated Utah's weather during the first part of February. By Feb. 9, the haze was getting pretty bad. But the sun was making a valiant effort to shine through, and daytime temperatures were warming into the mid 40s. I knew that just up the canyon - above the haze level - everything would be beautiful. Clean air, bright sunshine and trout rising to newly hatched midge flies. I had to escape.

A lot of other people apparently felt the same way. As I drove up the canyon I was surprised at the number of people fishing - it could have been an afternoon in June. There was a car at virtually every turnout.

Oh, it was delightful. The air and sunshine were warm - I wanted only a light jacket as I started fishing. I didn't even use my gloves.

There was ice all along the riverbank, and once in awhile a snowdrift made it difficult to walk. But, for the most part, the stream was unencumbered and very fishable.

Later in the afternoon, as the sun went down and a breeze came up, I was glad I had a warm coat.

The Provo is always finicky. To catch fish you've got to match it's mood. Pressure is heavy and the big browns have grown smart - they give you little room for error. You've got to fish the right fly, and present it in just the right way, or they'don't show any interest.

As I worked my way upstream I met a couple guys who had the river figured out. Andy Fitzhugh, a U of U student from Michigan, had caught a 22 incher earlier in the day. His friend, Jeff Hessler, had caughi 10 fish, most running about 17 inches.

Andy and Jeff started fishing about 10 a.m., near the Sundance turnoff. Their best success came bouncing hearsear and midge larva along the bottom. They said the fishing had been pretty consistent throughout the day - not red hot but pretty good.

The secret seemed to be getting the nymph right down into the runs, and working it slowly. A split shot or two provided the needed weight. A strike indicator a few feet up is needed to help detect the fish's light bumps.

The fish in the Provo are always spooky. You've got to move gently -sneak up on the stream - or you don't have a chance.

I saw a couple midge hatches in progress, and saw a few rising fish, so I tried some small dries. Nothing. The other people I talked to reported the same thing - action on the bottom but no luck on top.

I had fun fishing, although I didn't catch anything to brag about. But the quality of the fishing wasn't particularly important to me that day. I was just glad to be out.

The sound of the rushing water and the rhythmic motion of casting were soothing. Just being out, moving along the stream and greeting other fishermen did me a world of good. It was great.

Then I came down into the valley and saw the stacks at Geneva Steel belching gray gunk into the air I have to breath. Saw the sun, just able to penetrate the haze as it set in the west. It was hard to come home.

Still, I feel a strength from that stolen winter afternoon, fishing in warm sunshine on the majestic Provo. Maybe I can steal away for another afternoon or two before the daffodils push their heads out of the ground and smile at the melting snow.

I hope so. I can already feel cabin fever coming back.