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THE GREAT OUTDOORS — When winter rolls around, the ice fishermen head to the hard deck, while most fly fishermen retreat indoors, tying flies and dreaming of spring mayfly hatches that are months away.
But if you're a fly fishermen, your winter doesn't have to be spent ice fishing or tying flies. You can spend it on the five following rivers, catching fish and grinning because the normally crowded waters are empty and the trout are feisty and hungry — just like they are during spring.
The Middle and Lower Provo River
From Jordanelle Dam to Deer Creek Reservoir comprises the "Middle Provo," while the section of river flowing from the Deer Creek Dam to the mouth of Provo Canyon is referred to as the "Lower Provo."
These waters are stuffed with anglers almost year-round. Float tubers on the Lower Provo make it especially difficult to fish during the summer months. But when the snow flies, the tubers (and most fishermen) disappear, which means you'll have a much easier time getting into the river's storied trout.
It might be cold, but fishing the Lower Provo during the winter is definitely worthwhile.
Thanks to a ruling granted by 4th District Judge Derek Pullan, fishermen now have access to vast tracts of the Duchesnse River (where it flows through Tabiona Valley) that were previously locked up due to access laws.
The West Fork of the Duchesne River is closed during the winter (Jan. 1 - second Saturday of July) but the main fork of the Duchesne is now open year-round and is home to some beautiful brown trout.
It can get cold in the Tabiona Valley, but if the weather warms into the 30s, you'll find yourself into some seriously good midge hatches that'll bring the Duchesne's big browns to life.
The Logan River is unique because it's the only major river in Utah without a dam on its headwaters or tributaries. It's also a bastion for the Bonneville cutthroat trout (Utah's state fish) and boasts a large population of cutthroat, brown and rainbow trout, along with some nice Rocky Mountain whitefish.
The best part about the Logan is the fact that it's nearly 30 miles long, meaning that when winter sets in, the summer crowds really clear out and you can find yourself alone on the river for most of the day.
Blacksmith Fork River
As with the Duchesne River, thanks to the new access laws, large tracts of the Blacksmith Fork River are now open to anglers. The Blacksmith Fork is home to brown and rainbow trout, and boasts stunning pools and beautiful riffles throughout its entire length. Thanks to Hardware Ranch being located up the same canyon, access during the winter months isn't too much of an issue, seeing as most of the canyon road gets plowed.
The Green River
The Green is Utah's crown jewel of river-fly fishing. With 12,000 trout per mile that are an average length of 15 inches, stunning scenery and a bevy of stellar guides, the anglers who make the trek out to Dutch John during the wintry months of the year are bound to have a great time.
During the winter, flows are low enough on the Green River that most of it is wadeable, provided you don't mind walking. However, a float in a driftboat during January can provide a fly fishing experience that's hard to match anywhere in the West, let alone in Utah.
Even when winter grips Utah with its frigid temperatures and icy roads, great fly fishing is still available to those anglers who are willing to put in a bit of work, brave less-than-stellar weather, and of course, have patience that a fish will eventually take their fly.
Spencer lives and breathes fly fishing. If he's not out on his favorite streams, he's at home tying flies or he's writing about fishing. Connect with him on Twitter, @Spencer_Durrant.