Utah’s Heber Valley is filled with incredible outdoor experiences that draw people from all over the country. But many people may not know that in addition to all the mountain sports, the area is also home to the Provo River, which offers some of the best fly fishing in the state. For any angler looking for a truly unique fishing experience amid one of the most scenic settings around, a trip to the Heber Valley is a must-do item to add to the bucket list.
The Provo River has its start in the High Uintas Mountains, and it runs 70 miles from Trial Lake located in Summit County to Utah Lake in Provo. It’s the source of two of the valley’s large reservoirs—the Jordanelle and Deer Creek—which provide both power and irrigation (not to mention recreation) to people in the Wasatch region.
As good as all that sounds, the river is probably best known nationally as a premier fly-fishing destination. What makes it so popular?
"First the Provo has a robust trout population which makes it a very forgiving fishery," says Ryan Newman, a fishing guide with Rocky Mountain Outfitters, which offers a wide variety of fishing trips on the Provo. “There are 4,000 to 5,000 fish per mile on the middle and lower sections of the Provo. Plus the Provo gives anglers an opportunity to land a real trophy wild trout over 20 inches long.
"Second, the Provo has great access to the public for much of its length," he continues. “The entire middle section is public. The Provo offers year-round fishing, so whether you are here during the summer or need a day off of skiing, the Provo is fishable. Finally, the Provo offers some of the best views of the Wasatch Mountains, especially Mt Timpanogos.”
The most popular section of the river that runs about 12 miles through Heber Valley is also known as the Middle Provo, and it has been deemed a "blue ribbon" river by the Utah Division of Wildlife. That means it’s among the state’s best in terms of both the quality of fish and the outdoor experience you have catching them. The region is so stocked with fish that some outfitters even have a “no fish, no pay” policy for its patrons. Don’t expect to save any money—it’s a policy that doesn’t get evoked very often.
One of the great aspects of fly fishing on the Provo River is that it’s something that families can do together. It attracts both hard-core anglers looking for trophy fish as well as first-timers looking to learn the sport. It’s a great way to enjoy nature in one of the state’s most impressive settings.
Getting on the River
For first-timers, the Fish Heads Fly Shop on Main Street in Heber City is the go-to spot for equipment and information on the fishing in the region. It offers a clinic and class program designed for those who live relatively close by to the river and want to further their knowledge of the sport. The group classes (with a minimum of at least three people) are a great way to learn the river, improve your skills, and get to know others in the fishing community. For those traveling to the Heber Valley on vacation, the shop also offers classes, equipment, and guiding services to help you land that first fish.
Just outside of Park City, Rocky Mountain Outfitters is a guide service that will give you everything you need to make the most out of fishing experience on the Provo. They offer half-day and full-day wade trips as well as float trips on the Lower Provo. Its Intro to Utah Fly Fishing program get get you started quickly with everything you need, from fishing license to gear. Located just minutes from the river, Rocky Mountain Outfitters can get you on the water in no time. After a day on the water, stick around for one of Rocky Mountain Outfitters chuckwagon dinners to complete a great day outside.
While different species of fish may be more prevalent at various times of the year, the nice thing about the Provo River is that you always have options.
"You can catch fish 365 days a year here," Newman says.
Where to Stay
After a day spent on the water, you’ll want a nice place to rest for the night. Mountain Valley RV Resort, located in Heber City, is one of the highest-rated RV resorts in the Western United States. The family-friendly resort is just 45 minutes east of Salt Lake City and 20 minutes south of Park City. It’s big-rig friendly (offering 80-foot by 30-foot pull-through sites), but also features cabins and tent-camping options for those who don’t have an RV. The property also features a heated pool and hot tub, private bathrooms and showers, and free wireless internet.
Located in the Swiss-inspired town of Midway, Utah, the Hiking Inn features five suites in a 9,000-square-foot, two-story home. Guests all have access to the high-ceiling living rooms, game rooms and dining areas. Each morning starts with a European-style breakfast of fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt, pastries, juice and hot coffee or tea. There’s a cheese platter to enjoy when you check in, and fresh home-made cookies in the evening.
Finally, for a big group, the Stone Hill Lodge is a luxurious mountain escape. The European-style escape features seven bedrooms and sleeps up to 30 people. You may not want to leave the beautifully decorated home, which has plenty of indoor and outdoor space for things like family reunions, plus a theater room, exercise room, a racquetball court, five fireplaces, and an indoor pool and hot tub. The impressive views in every direction will remind you of the access to all the outdoor activities that are available in the Heber Valley. But we must admit, after a day fishing on the Provo River, this is sure a fun place to come home to.
Originally written for Utah Office of Tourism.