winter fishing float bow river drift boat recovery using pontoon.

Winter Fishing Rescue on Bow River and Lessons Learned!

I am writing this one as a caution. I’ve spent countless hours on the Bow River, especially the stretch referenced in this edition of our blog. I am not proud of what you’ll read below. The caution or lesson is preparation and mitigation. Winter fishing is not typically my thing but we’re experiencing a mild winter so far and anglers are taking advantage of the open water on the Bow. I often walk Hopper, my fishing dog, along a ridge above the river where I can clearly see a five kilometre stretch of water.  As of November 28th, the channels were all ice free where the river splits into three channels approximately one kilometer from the boat launch.

One of my favourite guests of our fly fishing trips asked if we could take a friend of his out for a winter float. The friend, having some health issues sounded like he really needed a day on the river and I accepted the trip. Besides, the weather was great and a fire with a hot shore lunch sounded like a fantastic idea, fish to the net optional.   I needed to prepare, I headed out on my own for some recon the day before our scheduled float to find a few fish, drop off some firewood and enjoy some winter sunshine.

Legacy Island Launch

Launching at Legacy Island, also known as Jensen’s for many. It is December 1st and with plenty of slush visible in the current so I need to pick my spots today. I anchored a few times along the way, tossed some bugs and had a pretty good day that included hot coffee with a damn fine PBJ by the fire. My plan was to be home by 4pm to whip up a batch of chilli for tomorrows float.

winter fishing float bow river shoreline with slush.

Lesson One

I should have checked the take out point at Carseland BEFORE I launched at Legacy. Its winter with some steep temperature changes overnight. This time of year, open water two days ago is NOT a good indication of open water today.  

Lesson 1A

Fish with a buddy, preferably one smarter than you are.

The Bow River braids off near the irrigation weir at Carseland. Floating this section hundreds of times over the years, I know the channels and where I like to guide the boat.  The current slows considerably up stream of the weir.  Today I chose river right, heading towards the log jam.  The far right channel, just up river from the big farm house, is full of slush and the river stops moving. The boat launch is roughly 700 metres away, just around the corner.  I stop the boat, or rather, the accumulation of slush stops the boat.  I am close to the high bank on river right, the island on river left. There is moving water on the other side of the island. I decide to row back upstream and float down the next channel over. Winter fishing conditions mean low, slow water flows and I easily and quickly row back up and over to the next run. Pointing the boat slowly through the thread of open water available, it’s now around 3:45pm and the light is fading. I notice my phone is at 1%. Dammit!

Lesson Two

Take a charging block in the boat or backpack. I nearly always have one of these with me as part of my safety gear.  I didn’t today.

I make a quick call to my wife and let her know what I’m up against. We agree to give me a couple of hours and then she’ll worry.  From here, the middle channel is on my right or a substantial slow water channel to my left. I typically avoid the left channel. It’s slow and appears to be frozen all the way across. I drag the boat onto an ice shelf and explore the middle channel. I break through easily into thigh deep water. With effort, the boat moves along the ice but my feet break through. The good news is, I’m slowly moving towards the launch.

It’s now 4:20pm, I’m quickly losing light. Struggling with the boat to around a half kilometre from the launch, the ice gets thicker and the water is now above my waste. I’m in waders with good thermals, wool socks, well layered and still comfortable. I have great gear. I’m getting tired and push the boat closer to the shore. I’m behind the boat, lifting my knees to the ice in order to break through and keep moving. The river bottom is softer as I approach the shoreline and I’ve managed to find a deep pocket. Fantastic!  The water is now chest high; I can’t go any further, risking cold water spilling over my waders.  I move around, feeling for a shallow spot to rest on. It’s not there, so I retrace my steps to comfortable depth. It’s dark, I have no idea what time it is, and my phone is dead.  I move the boat back along the line I just walked, so the ice has been cleared away. I’m looking for a path to shore. I’m in a slow eddy, inside shore bend. I need to point out this is an extremely low water year for the Bow River, however I’ve managed to find what I believe to be the deepest part of the river to walk in, while it’s dark and iced up.

This is the moment I swear a blue streak. Mad at myself for the situation. I shouldn’t be here! A couple of deep breaths, getting it together, then I experience cold, December river water spilling over my waders. There may have been one or two more F bombs dropped as I scrambled back into the boat, I am thankful to have a dry bag full of extra layers, including an extra heavy coat.  Dry clothes go on quickly, my sweaty toque is replaced. A toque is a beanie for my American friends. The shore line, thirty feet off the bow, with ice barely two inches thick, and depth over my head seems like a long reach from where I am. I take a minute to think. I’m warm, dry and safe.

Lesson 3

Winter Fishing tip – Carry dry clothing. It’s easy in the boat. I passed this one with an A+.

My thoughts focus on keeping it that way. I punch a hole through the ice with my oar for a depth test, we’ll call it eight feet or, too damn deep! I spend some time chipping ice with the oar at the bow; slide the shaft to the river bottom from the stern, pushing the boat towards the shore. A slow process, but I’m getting closer to the island. This repeats itself for a while when I hear a rumble growing upstream. It sounds like a waterfall. Quickly, I realize flowing water is pushing just under the ice surface with a surge from up river of my position. Perfect timing as the ice gives way and current pushes me directly to the shore of the island. Thank you for a little break Mother Nature!  Listening carefully and straining my eyes I can’t tell if the surge is enough for me to ride it into the launch, which is roughly only a half kilometer downstream now.  No luck. The water flowing over top of the ice has re frozen.

winter fishing float bow river drift boat in ice.

Lesson 4

Wear your life vest.

I’ve lost track of time here but at some point I see headlights headed down the launch access road. My cell phone has been dead for a while, so I’m hoping Tara, my wife, has called my oldest and best friend and fellow fly fishing guide, Kevin. We’ve been friends since our elementary school days and there’s no one I trust more. Damn we’ve been through a lot and spent some great times together! Tara called Kevin at 6:02pm she tells me later. Thankfully, the headlights belong to Kevin’s truck. I see the truck stop at the launch and I call out. No answer. At this point I’m not sure if it’s him. What I don’t know, is Kevin has called my wife and is letting her know my truck and boat trailer are at the launch, but I am not. Kevin says he arrived at the launch around 7:30 pm. He hangs up with my wife and calls out my name, I answer back and we establish he needs to stay put and I’ll work on chipping ice and making my way closer to the launch. He can’t see me, but he knows the river well and from my voice, he knows where I am.

Lesson 5

A working flash light. A total fail for me here. The batteries were corroded and my light didn’t work. My headlamp with fresh batteries on board is sitting on the kitchen counter at home.

Spirits are renewed, but the reality is, I’m not getting out of here without some help. Darkness, Cold, Ice and Water need to be respected and this is no place to be stubborn. Thankfully my wonderful wife decides, unknown to me, this is now an emergency and instructs Kevin, with his agreement to call 911. Kevin yells an apology and the call goes out. The apology I think because he knows I’m stubborn as hell and still think I could get out of this.

Fire, Police and Paramedics are all dispatched. The boat launch is lit up from emergency vehicle lights.  Communication is established by yelling back and forth until the fire truck turns on the PA and they talk to me occasionally, checking on me, along with letting me know they’re working on getting me off my little island. Eventually it’s decided a helicopter will be needed to lift me out.  Hawcs agrees, thankfully, to help and after a little search light work, they find me. Impressively landing on a postage stamp size dirt slab the Calgary Police welcome me into a warm chopper cabin and lift me the short distance to the Carseland Fire Station. The boat and all my gear are left behind.  I’ve had no sense of time being out here, but it’s been 10 hours since the call to Tara letting her know I might have a little trouble getting home. I only realize the timeline after the helicopter ride when I see the clock in Kevin’s truck. It’s 2am. I was certain it was around 9pm at the latest!

Thank You, First Responders!

I cannot express my gratitude properly to the first responders, Kevin and Tara. Having the lights simply visible and the communication while they formulated the rescue plan was invaluable. Had I been alone, with no communication or sense I could get out of there, I know my mind would have gone to some dark places. Thankfully, I remained warm, comfortable and calm during the whole experience, other than a brief, ear splitting swearfest. I am only embarrassed. This could have gone very differently and had a tragic ending as the first responders pointed out. I will add here that I did have the means to start a fire, but I was pretty comfortable at -10c with very little wind. Had it been any colder, I would have scrounged up some dead wood and started the fire. This also would have made it far easier for the helicopter to find me. For some reason I didn’t show up on the thermal camera, so maybe I was colder than I thought.

winter fishing float bow river firepit on shore to keep warm.

Winter Fishing Safety Kit

I have already added items to my emergency kit. If you search winter survival, or winter safety kit, or boat safety kit you’ll find all kinds of information regarding what you should have on hand. Be prepared, in fact be over prepared if you have room. Here’s a link to one of the blogs I found helpful. https://mrmountainman.ca/blog/build-your-emergency-kit  I have most of these items, but they didn’t do me any good in the garage while I was stuck on the ice! Don’t make my mistakes and please be prepared anytime you head out to wet that line.

winter fishing float bow river drift boat recovery using pontoon.

Drift Boat Recovery

The channels opened up again briefly with some passage to the boat launch several days later. Kevin and I scoped out a route from the east bank. We dragged my single man pontoon boat up the ice, above the drift boat. I crossed open water to the island. The boat was resting in the next channel where I left her, bottom frozen to the ice. It took a couple of hours to man handle her to open water. Once she was floating, I threw the pontoon across her stern and we floated to the take out. Kevin had made his way on shore back to the boat launch and chipped a perfectly sized opening, with the trailer already backed in. The “Mad Drifter” is now safely in the garage unharmed. I retrieved all my gear and only one rod tip was sacrificed.

Thank you again to Tara, Kevin and the First Responders for getting my ass off the river that night! This river rat is forever grateful, thankful and learned his lesson.

shoreline trout fishing on bow river near calgary, alberta, canada

Bow River Boot Camp

shoreline trout fishing on bow river near calgary, alberta, canada

A Fly Fishing Boot Camp Perfect for Beginners

You’ve been thinking about getting into fly fishing? Jump in with both feet! Well, maybe don’t jump. You’ll spook the fish, and the rocks might be slippery. Better to wade in quietly like a ghost, but excited. Get started with our fly fishing Boot Camp on the Bow River!

This is a lot of fun! We’re going to have plenty of laughs while learning and practicing new skills. This is fishing! For most of us it’s a relaxing pastime and a lifelong learning opportunity. Enjoy the process, make mistakes, and laugh at yourself! Most guests tell us, they’re completely focused and immersed in the experience and life takes a break while they’re on the river.  This is a good thing! It’s okay to check out once in while.

The Bow River Boot Camp combines outdoor classroom learning with actual fishing experience. This isn’t really that intense, but “boot camp” sounded right. No one is going to yell at you, and you probably won’t sweat too much.

DAY ONE

Hanging out in our outdoor classroom, dressed like we know what we’re doing, we’ll get into everything you’ll need to get you started and make you dangerous!

Your classroom is 6 acres of waterfront along our home waters on the Bow River just outside of the Calgary City Limits. We’ve set up your adventure at our ranch located on a beautiful stretch of water and provide everything you need to explore for the day. We include all the equipment, but you’re encouraged to bring your own gear if you have it.

trout fishing on bow river using a drift boat and casting for trout

DAY TWO

We load up the drift boat and fish one of our favourite stretches of the Bow River. You’ll have the opportunity to battle with hard fighting Rainbow and Brown Trout with your new skills.

That all sounds great right? What exactly are you getting yourself into?

Here is the course outline with some added detail. Try to contain your excitement!

fly fishing hook

Day One Itinerary

Gear Identification: Fly Rods come in different sizes for different applications. We’ll talk about a balanced set up for your needs. Fly Rod outfits are identified in “weights” which refers to the overall strength or size of the rod. We’ll show you how to put it all together.

Casting: We’ll teach, and you’ll practice the four principles of fly casting. We start in the field adjacent to the river, and then head to the water, where you’ll get the real deal experience. Repetition of good habits is the goal here. The good news is physics can help us. The bad news is physics can help us.

Knots: You’re need to know how to tie good, strong knots. Knot an option. (sorry) This is typically very light line, so the knots are critical. If you’re going to fly fish, you need to know how to tie two pieces of line together and you need to tie your line to the flies. There are so many knots and debates on which work best but we teach the IMPROVED CLINCH KNOT, NON-SLIP LOOP KNOT and the TRIPLE SURGEONS knot. Being on the river daily, these knots do the job. You’ll want to practice knots away from the water to become proficient. I guess you don’t have to but standing on the riverbank for 30 minutes trying to tie your fly on might dampen your spirits a little while your buddies are casting to happy fish!

Rigging: Now that you have your knots dialed in, what the heck are you supposed to do with them? We’ll teach you some techniques for rigging single and multiple fly applications and when to use them. You’ll use those knots to tie these rigs: Dry Fly. Dry Dropper. Deep Nymph Rig. Drop Shot. Streamer. On day two, you’ll fish all these rigs.

Bugs N’Flies: It would be kind of helpful to know what, exactly, to tie onto our rigs wouldn’t it? We’ll give you a down and dirty entomology overview to learn the difference between Mayflies, Caddis Flies, Stone Flies, Terrestrials, Annelids etc.

Reading Water: Now you need to find the fish. The river gives you clues to where stealthy trout like to be. Trout want a steady supply of food, they don’t like to use too much energy to eat, and they need cover or protection close by. Throwing your line where the fish are is the difference between hunting and hoping. Let’s hunt!

River Etiquette and Safety: Sharing our resources and being responsible is a must while you’re out there. A few Dos and Don’ts will help you enjoy your days on the water.

fishing guide alberta with drift boat near calgary

Day Two Itinerary

Let’s work on putting it all together and go fishin’! We’ll pack a semi-healthy lunch, and head out for the day. We’re fishing a great stretch of river, with plenty of trout, amazing scenery and we get to keep learning! Our goal is to get you more and more comfortable as the day progresses. Landing trout is part of the agenda today while your cast and presentation steadily get better. We cover approximately 15k of trouty river where you’ll fish from the drift boat with plenty of stops along the way to wade fish.

releasing trout while fishing on bow river with drift boat

Check out our website, stalk around our social pages and see if we’re a good fit for your next adventure. Please get in touch directly with questions etc. We love talking about this stuff and our spouses won’t listen anymore.  Explore videos, different guide sites, visit fly shops, and you’ll soon find a pretty cool group of people of all age groups and walks of life enjoying our sport. You’ll also realize quickly there is no substitute for being out there!

bow river osprey with fish

Fly Fishing Tale, October 20th – Mr. Big, the Eagle and the Osprey

I’m at the back of the truck, tailgate down, packing gear while Hopper impatiently wanders but always has me in sight.  Hopper, a black shepherd, a year, and a half old and my shadow when I fish alone. If you know German Shepherds, she is my shadow ALL THE TIME!  Yes, she is a fly fisherman’s dog, and I named her Hopper, but her nickname is Spaz. Right now, she’s working hard to free a downed fence post from the barbed wire still attached. Spaz.  The streamer rod comes out, then the dry rod. Still rigged up from yesterday’s float.  The dry rod is a 5 weight with a #18 BWO parachute thingy attached. I haven’t seen the river yet today, but what the hell, it worked yesterday.  It’s October 20th, overcast, a slight north wind. I can’t see the river from where I’m parked but I can almost feel the hatch.  I’m really hoping for a fall hatch. Experience tells me I should be in luck, but experience also reminds me the Bow River laughs at experience for fun. I’m betting on BWO’s, but we’ll see.

Hopper sigh’s “Finally!” as I sling the backpack and head towards the game trail leading to the bank. I’m headed to a run I’ve fished for at least 25 years. This past season, I’ve only walked it a few times, but guided guests on it daily from the boat. I’ve seen its structure change every year. Sometimes dramatically to where it’s unrecognizable. The one constant is big trout. Always big trout.

fly fishing guides dog hopper with stick and fish inspection.

A week ago, the valley was full of yellow, still holding on to it’s fall kaleidoscope.  I love this river valley with its stunning beauty during Summer and Fall. I struggle to look up an appreciate what’s in front of me. Do all fly fishers have this problem? Today the landscape is brown and grey. The pretty season is over. This is serious fishing terrain. Nothing to focus on but reading the water and finding happy trout.

Hopper leads the way, approaching the water. She finds a log instantly deciding all seven feet of lumber needs relocation to the rivers edge. The grass is tall, thick, and dusty, but she’s determined as both of us crash through the maze announcing ourselves to the gravel bar with absolutely zero grace or finesse. Hopper wrestles with her log as I shed the pack and get ready to scope out the situation. The situation I want to see is dimples, splashes, disturbances, heads, backs, and tails. Within a reasonable casting distance would be nice. I’ve fished a long time. No need for hero casts around here. Anyways, there’s no one around to see my quirky casting technique.

Before I can settle into the recon part of the afternoon, I see a familiar drift boat up stream. Jason doesn’t recognize me on the far bank. I’m just a random bank fisherman and he’s focused on drifting the boat on its fishy line. So focused.  I give him a yell; he looks over and pulls the boat in.  Jason is a great guide and guy.  I’ve had the pleasure of being guided by him and working with him these past few years. Today he’s fishing with his brother. Guides typically only get to fish in spring and fall around here. It’s the only job I know, where we love heading to work on our days off!  We’re catching up on the week, discussing the coming cold weather, while both scanning the river for you know what. A few minutes go by then Jason says,

“Mayflies”

I say, “Yep.”

Another minute goes by. “There’s one”, he says.

“Yep”, I say.

“There it is again. Nice fish.”

“Yep, big tail”

After a few more rises, Jason says, “Grab your dry fly rod, I’ll net it for you.” I love his confidence in me.

Our specimen is about fifteen feet off the bank, feeding in about eighteen inches of water. I position myself downstream so I can get a 45-degree cast above it and the fly will be right on the feeding lane. I’m ready. I did math, I moved into position, I stripped line and did a test cast for distance. I’m so ready. I wait. I wait some more.  Jason says,

“I don’t see it.”

“Nope”, I say.

I think I have the right line on where we saw Mr. Big, so I toss the bug. Nothing. One more time. Nothing.

Damn. Fishing. It really is 90% anticipation.

fish jumping out of water

It seems like forever, but it’s probably only a minute or so. We see another rise. This isn’t the same fish. It comes up several more times in the same line. I reposition my feet, adjust my distance with a couple of false casts and lay it in there. I absolutely cannot see my fly. It’s a small BWO with a nice parachute, but it’s the same colour as the foam. The sun, although behind cloud cover is just in the right place to cause trouble. If only I was fishing from the other bank! Glare is fun.  I move down stream slightly, so my cast will now be closer to straight upstream. More math and measuring. Fishing is hard. Thankfully this trout is still feeding, so I have a shot. I lay the cast in the lane; I can see the fly! It’s perfect. Smack!! A 13-inch brown splashes and makes a fuss. I say 13 inches because 13 is bigger than 12. No one gets too excited. It’s a fish, this trio has all caught them before. Still, it was a damn nice cast to a rising fish. I’m happy. Still, this isn’t the big old boy we saw a few minutes ago. We’ve made some noise now and Hopper crashes the water to check out our little brown friend.

Jason and I fist bump and he heads down river.

I just know Mr. Big is going to show up again. I’m looking up stream, scanning. I get down on one knee so maybe I can see better. Nothing. I head up stream, well back of the rivers edge. There he is!  Right where I was looking, but so subtle, I couldn’t see around the glare while down stream of the rise. There’s a lesson here. Fishing isn’t so hard. More dimples. I’m only seeing the back and the tail on this guy. It’s hard to say for sure with the glare, but I go with my gut and tie a little emerger off the back of my BWO thingy. I don’t know the name of the flies I’m using, but the size and colour seem right. Yes, I am a full-time guide. Really. I want to get down stream of him, but I know I’ll never see my presentation. I opt for a downstream presentation. I make sure I have more line than I need so I won’t have to mend. I remind myself to be patient and let the fish eat before I set the hook. As it is, if he takes the emerger it’s a going to be a perimeter set. I know I’m overthinking this, but man I’m having a great time!

Okay here we go! Wait! I feel a dull thud on the back of my knees. WTF! It’s Hopper and a new stick she apparently needs me to see. She’s snuck up behind me and her driftwood slab catches the back of the legs. Perfect. She decides to splash around in front of me, steps on my slack line catching the leader and making a helluva mess.  Fishing is hard with Spaz. I swear a blue streak at my companion, she seems to understand and retreats, log firmly in her jaw. I’m getting the eyes from the tall grass, yes dog, I agree, I’m the problem!

I’ve retied. New tippet and both flies. As I retie, I’ve noticed my friend happily sipping, oblivious to the carnage bankside. I look both ways for the Black Menace. She’s wandered off somewhere. Here we go!

The cast lands the BWO about four feet above the last dimple, the glare is horrible, but I can just make out the white parachute. The fly drags on a cross current. I let it float by before I pull it off the water. I work my feet out and upstream a little more. This should be a better line. I don’t like a downstream presentation, but this is the best option and not a completely blind cast. The trout makes another appearance now closer to me. It’s moved up and closer to the bank. I cast, stopping the line short, allowing it to land about six feet above the fish. It’s right online. Come on baby!!! The top fly floats only two feet into its drift and disappears. I feel nothing, I see nothing. Set! It’s there! All hell breaks loose in 18 inches of water! Yeah baby!! The line is tight, the rod is bent! Shit, it’s coming right at me!! My arm goes up way over my head, I’m stripping like a mad man! Why am I so bloody short!!  I quickly turn away from the fish, sending my rod tip upstream, stripping line tight!! It turns, headed for deep water. Give it line! Give it line! I must have twenty feet of line in the water at my feet now. It peels off in a split second! Hot Fish! I turn and chase as it heads downstream, hands above my head, hoping I don’t faceplant! We’re in for a ride with this one!

 

The line goes slack. Just like that. It’s gone. Hopper is downstream where the fish was. She often gives chase to where she sees trout splashing on the line. A beautiful, dark, fall Rainbow got the best of me today. I couldn’t be happier! I watched that fish for at least forty-five minutes before I made a cast to it. Once it ate the fly the whole thing was over in less than fifteen seconds. I hear a Bald Eagle chirp. Looking up I see it chasing an Osprey that has a fish in it’s talons.

bow river osprey with fish and a bald eagle chasing it.

An old high school classmate once wrote; “In life, we remember specific moments. Not days or weeks or years, specific moments.”

Hopper and I stuck around and caught several more fish today. We switched to streamers and played around with a hopper dropper after the fish stopped rising. I won’t remember any of those fish in a week, but I’ll remember stalking that one trout. Even if it hadn’t taken the emerger at all, I still would have remembered the chase and the anticipation. I’ll remember my dog harassing me. I’ll remember running into a friend on the river. I’ll remember the eagle and the Osprey.

Here’s to more adventures and moments for all of us!

 

 

 

proud fly fisher with trout in drift boat

Bow River Sports Fishing Company Wraps Up Busiest Season in 2023

Discover the thrilling adventures of a sports fishing company as they reflect on their busiest season yet on the majestic Bow River.

The sports fishing season on the Bow River in southern Alberta has come to a close, and it has been one for the books. Anglers from all over the world flocked to this popular fishing destination to test their skills and catch some impressive fish. The guides at our fly fishing company had their hands full, but they made sure that each and every guest had an unforgettable experience on the water.

Another Great Season Fly Fishing in Southern Alberta

For yet another year, the Bow River proved why it is a must-visit spot for anglers. This beautiful river is known for its abundance of fish species, including brown trout, rainbow trout, and Rocky Mountain Whitefish. Its diverse ecosystem provides the perfect conditions for fly fishing, making it a dream come true for both seasoned anglers and beginners.

With its breathtaking scenery and glacial waters, the Bow River offers more than just a fishing experience. It is a place where nature enthusiasts can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse themselves in the tranquility of the great outdoors.

Bow River Remains a Popular Destination for Anglers

This season, the Bow River attracted anglers from across North America and beyond. Its reputation as a world-class fishing destination continues to grow, and it’s not hard to see why. The river is well- populated with wild trout, and its size and flow rate make it a challenging yet rewarding place to fish. Whether you are an experienced angler or new to the sport, the Bow River offers opportunities for everyone. The calm stretches of the river are perfect for beginners to practice their casting techniques, while the fast-flowing sections provide a thrilling challenge for seasoned fishermen.

scott smith fly fishiing guide albertaLead Guide, Scott Smith, Looks Back on 2023 Season

I think the biggest story of the 2023 season must be adaptability. We saw a record low snowpack and low water conditions for most of the season. The summer saw steady flows at 80 CMS which helped the fish and bug life to stabilize. There were a few weeks dealing with Time of Day restrictions, where we had to be done fishing by 2pm. This didn’t affect our guided trips other than we had guests out on the water earlier.  The good news is our trout were willing to play and we had some amazing fish to the boat this season!

Spring Fly Fishing Highlights

Spring saw some great early season top water action on Caddis and BWO’s. The guides love stalking big “happy” fish feeding on small bugs. We often get just as excited as our guests when we hook these beauties! For our guests on the Deep Nymph Rig and Hopper Dropper, I fished a #16 copper-coloured Hares Ear variation for about 8 weeks straight. This caddis pupa imitation seemed to do the trick and judging by the gaping space in my fly box, it was the go-to fly for late spring and early summer. I often fished it with a black or brown leech pattern while deep nymphing.

Summer Fly Fishing Highlights

Summer saw a mix of a fantastic Stone Fly season along with the continuation of Caddis and some surprisingly great Pale Morning Dunn action. If you’ve never experienced getting on the water ridiculously early to throw giant foam bugs, you’re missing out. I’m not sure how you feel about a shot of adrenaline at 4:30am, but these takes are explosive! I often paired a big old Demoes Golden Stone with a simple Elk Hair Caddis in the early mornings. However, there were several mornings we just tossed the foam until the sun came over the ridge. I was so happy every time I had to pull the boat over to stalk fish for guests. That one big fish up on emergers always presents a challenge. Figuring out which size of bug, then getting the guest into position for the right cast in the feeding lane is just the best part of guiding in my opinion. Second best is the take, the line goes tight, and all hell breaks loose!!

Fall Fly Fishing Highlights

Fall fishing was a little different this season. The water levels dropped significantly so we didn’t see much active current along the banks. I don’t have scientific basis for this, but I think this is why our Hopper season was sporadic. The banks were dry and there were plenty of hoppers everywhere. The fish just didn’t seem to key on them for me. That said, at some point the trout starting hammering Prince Nymphs and Pheasant Tails on the dropper. For the deep nymph rig, I was running mostly the Reece’s Pieces worm and a #14 Prince. No magic patterns, but fished at the right depth, this was deadly. I don’t get a lot of opportunity to fish streamers with guests, but when we did, the Bullet Head Sculpin, the Skiiddish Smolt and a good old Wooly Bugger saw action and success.

Thank you to the amazing guides who help make fishy memories for our guests. Your dedication to your craft is inspiring and I learn from all of you. Thank you to our returning guests for trusting us with your experience. We hope we live up to your expectations and would love to see you again! Thank you to our new guests. We hope you enjoyed your time on the water with us as a new fly fisher or an experienced angler! Learn more about your Bow River fishing guides.

drift boat fly fishing group bow river

About the Bow River, Alberta

The Bow River is a majestic waterway that flows through the heart of Alberta. It spans over 587 kilometers and is fed by glacial runoff from the Canadian Rockies. Its location near Calgary makes it easily accessible for locals and tourists alike.

Not only is the Bow River teeming with fish, but it is also home to a variety of wildlife and bird species. On any given day, anglers may catch sight of bald eagles soaring overhead or elk and deer drinking from the river’s edge. It truly is a nature lover’s paradise.

What is Guided Fly Fishing?

Guided fly fishing is a service offered by professional fishing companies that pairs anglers with experienced guides. These guides have intimate knowledge of the river and its fish, and they can provide valuable insights and tips to help anglers improve their skills.

During a guided fly fishing trip, anglers are taken to the best fishing spots on the Bow River. The guides will provide all the necessary equipment, including rods, reels, and flies. They will also teach anglers the proper casting techniques and help them select the right flies for the conditions.

What is Drift Boat Fishing?

Drift boat fishing is a popular technique used on the Bow River. Anglers board specially-designed boats that allow them to float downstream while casting their lines. This method provides excellent access to prime fishing spots and allows anglers to cover more water in search of fish.

The Bow River’s drift boat fishing experience is truly unique. As anglers float down the river, they are surrounded by stunning scenery and have the opportunity to observe wildlife up close. It’s an immersive fishing experience that combines adventure and relaxation.

happy times fly fishing group bow river

How to Choose your Fishing Guides in Alberta

Choosing the right fishing guide is crucial to ensure a successful trip on the Bow River. Here are a few tips to help you make the right choice:

  1. Do your research: Look for fishing companies with a good reputation and positive customer
  2. Experience matters: Opt for guides who have extensive knowledge of the Bow River and its fish species.
  3. Check their equipment: Make sure the fishing company provides well-maintained gear and quality boats.
  4. Ask about certifications: Inquire if the guides are certified and have the necessary licenses to operate.
  5. Customizable trips: Look for companies that offer tailored fishing experiences to meet your specific needs.
  6. The Outfitter should ask you lots of questions to make sure they understand your needs

Before You Book: What to Look for in Fly Fishing Companies & Charters

When booking a fly fishing trip on the Bow River, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • Customer testimonials: Read reviews from previous clients to get a sense of the company’s reputation and the quality of their trips.
  • Availability: Check the company’s schedule and make sure they have openings during your desired dates.
  • Price and inclusions: Compare prices and make sure you understand what is included in the fishing package.
  • Guide credentials: Inquire about the experience and qualifications of the guides who will be accompanying you on the trip.
  • Flexibility: Look for fishing companies that offer flexible cancellation policies and rescheduling options.

What Is Usually Included in Fly Fishing Packages?

Fly fishing packages on the Bow River typically include the following:

  • Professional fishing guide
  • All necessary fishing equipment
  • Transportation to and from the fishing location
  • Packed lunch and refreshments
  • Photography of your fishing adventure

It’s always a good idea to confirm the inclusions with the fishing company before booking to avoid any surprises on the day of your trip.

rainbow trout in net

What Fish Are in the Bow River?

The Bow River is home to a diverse range of fish species. Anglers can expect to encounter brown trout, rainbow trout, and rocky mountain whitefish during their fishing adventures. These fish can grow to impressive sizes, with some reaching over 20 inches in length!

Additionally, the Bow River is known for the occasional northern pike, adding an extra layer of excitement to your fishing experience. With such a variety of fish, every cast could lead to a thrilling catch.

What Kind of Flies Are Used on the Bow River?

Choosing the right fly is essential for successful fly fishing on the Bow River. The most commonly used rigs include Streamers, Dry Droppers and Deep Nymph Rigs. Depending on the time of year and the fish you are targeting, the guides will recommend specific techniques, patterns and sizes. It’s important to have a variety of flies in your tackle box to match the changing conditions and the fish’s feeding preferences. Being prepared and adaptable will increase your chances of hooking into some trophy-sized trout.

How Does the Bow River Flow Rate Affect Fly Fishing?

The flow rate of the Bow River plays a significant role in fly fishing success. As water levels rise or fall, the behavior of the fish changes. When the river is high and fast, fish tend to seek shelter in calmer areas and along the riverbanks.

During lower flow rates, fish become more active and move into the main current to feed. Understanding how flow rate affects fish behavior will help you target the best fishing spots and increase your chances of a successful day.

How to Find the Best Fishing Spots near Calgary, Alberta

If you’re in search of the best fishing spots near Calgary, Alberta, look no further than the Bow River. Start by researching popular fishing locations, such as Policeman’s Flats, Graves Landing, and Fish Creek Provincial Park.

Consider hiring a fishing guide who can provide insider tips and take you to hidden gems along the river. These guides have spent countless hours exploring the Bow River and know where the fish are biting. They will ensure that you make the most of your time on the water.

Do You Need a License to Fish the Bow River in Alberta?

Yes, anglers are required to have a valid fishing license to fish the Bow River in Alberta. The province offers both resident and non-resident licenses, which can be purchased online or at authorized retailers.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with Alberta’s fishing regulations before casting your line. This will ensure that you are complying with the law and help protect the fish populations for future generations of anglers.

What Are the Benefits of Private Fly Fishing Lessons near Calgary, Alberta?

 

Private fly fishing lessons near Calgary, Alberta offer numerous benefits for anglers of all skill levels. Whether you’re new to fly fishing or looking to improve your casting technique, these lessons provide personalized instruction tailored to your needs.

During private lessons, you will receive one-on-one guidance from an experienced fishing guide who will share their expertise and help you refine your skills. You’ll learn the fundamentals of fly fishing, including casting techniques, fly selection, and reading the water.

Private lessons are ideal for beginners who want to start their fly fishing journey on the right foot. They also benefit experienced anglers who want to take their skills to the next level and catch more fish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I bring my own fishing gear on a guided fly fishing trip?

A: Absolutely! If you have your own fishing gear and prefer to use it, you are welcome to bring it along. However, our fishing company provides all the necessary equipment to ensure that you have a successful and enjoyable experience on the Bow River.

Q: Is fly fishing on the Bow River suitable for beginners?

A: Yes, the Bow River offers excellent opportunities for beginners to learn the art of fly fishing. Our experienced guides will provide patient instruction and help you develop the skills you need to catch fish. With their guidance, even novice and first-time anglers can have a successful day on the water.

Q: What is the best time of year to fish the Bow River?

A: The Bow River can be fished year-round, but the most popular times are during the summer and fall. Early Summer brings the arrival of the stonefly hatch, which triggers a feeding frenzy among the fish. In the fall, the river is teeming with spawning trout, making it an excellent time to target big fish. However, anglers can enjoy a successful outing at any time of year, as the Bow River’s fish are active and hungry throughout the seasons.

Q: Can I catch and keep fish from the Bow River?

A: It depends on the fishing regulations set by Alberta’s Fish and Wildlife. Currently, on the Bow River, catch and release is mandatory in the sections we fish. This practice ensures that future generations of anglers can enjoy the thrill of fishing on the Bow.

As the fishing season on the Bow River comes to an end, our fly fishing company reflects on another successful year. We take pride in providing exceptional experiences to our clients and helping them create memories that will last a lifetime.

If you’re looking for your next fishing adventure, consider joining us on the Bow River. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or new to the sport, our knowledgeable guides will ensure that you have a memorable day on the water. Book your trip today and get ready to reel in some fish!

alberta rainbow trout in net on the bow river

Spring Fly Fishing on the Bow River: A Guided Perspective

best fly fishing lessons in Calgary, on the Bow River

Well, the spring fly fishing season is finally here! I must admit I’m not a winter fly fisher but as soon as the sun starts to warm my face, I am just itching to get on the river! The boat gets a work over and a shine, all the gear gets checked, new lines are added where necessary and by now the fly boxes are re stocked. Looking at the calendar we have some early season floats booked with our buddies and fellow guides before we get into the heart of the season and won’t have time to fish.

Learning New Skills and Shaking Off The Rust

Spring gives me the opportunity to jump into lessons. I love getting new and aspiring fly fishers on the water. Watching folks progress with their casting stroke, understanding where to find fish and become proficient with knot tying and fly selection is a great reward as a teacher. I always love seeing pictures and hearing tales of your adventures after you leave us. Our hope is always that the lessons are a great beginning for you.

We’re happy to start at the beginning or work with you on specific challenges to help up your game.

We throw a lot of information at students during our time together, so I put together a 50-page book to accompany our beginner’s fly fishing course. It covers everything in what I hope is an easy-to-follow format…and there’s pictures!

We’re different, in that our class size is a maximum of two students. We offer a half day “boot camp style” experience, and you’re hands on from start to finish. Our classroom is on the riverbank and yes, there are trout holding at your feet. You might just hook up!

Check out our fishing packages and see if this is for you. We’d love to see you!

Spring Fly Fishing – What to Expect

Water flows are still on the low side. Some slow run off will start and we may see some off-colour water from the late season snowstorms. This is typically short-lived. April in Alberta can be great weather, but we could also be in a blizzard. In April, we’ll find fish in their wintering holes. So, a deep nymph rig with a leech as one of your offerings is never a bad choice. A worm and a pheasant tail will also produce when fished at the right depth.

If you’re going to fish a streamer, which I always enjoy, slow that bad boy right down as you move it through the zone. I like a white or tan #2 or #4 classic Woolly Bugger.  As the water warms and the bugs start to get more active, you’ll see some BWO’s and some fish up on them. Remember, the midges are always around, so don’t be afraid to tie on a Griffiths Gnat. Around mid-April, we start to see the fish move around as the water and air temperatures become consistently warmer. Remember though, this is Mother Nature. Her clock doesn’t match our fishing expectations.

May often offers some fantastic fly fishing and we can see a wonderful Caddis hatch for about a week. If you hit it right, it’s epic. Do the kids still say epic?

alberta rainbow trout caught inthe bow river

Keep in mind the Rainbows are moving out of the system to spawn, so you’ll see more 16” to 18” Rainbows as their larger cousins are in the tributaries doing their thing. This can be a great time to target some larger Browns.  The big rainbows usually return around the last week of May.

alberta rainbow trout in net on the bow river

Some Things to Remember while Spring Fly Fishing

  • The water is cold. Fish are cold blooded.
  • Fish are not going to move too far or fast to take your fly.
  • Get your flies low in the water column and keep that drift below the speed limit.
  • Fish in a grid pattern. I always start closer to me, then move my casts out. X is where the Fly lands and Y is the current line you want to fish. A crude diagram below with the message to change up where you land that fly or indicator on the water.
    Spring Fly Fishing Bow River Currents and flow chart.
  • Only cast as far as you can maintain good control. If you can’t mend effectively, shorten it up and move your feet to a better casting position.
  • Depth is key. Before you change your fly selection, try moving that indicator or adding/subtracting some weight.

Rigs to Experiment with in the Springtime

A Simple Deep Water Nymph Rig. Play around with your distances between flies and where you place the weight. I use a swivel as weight and add split shot as needed. Usually, the weight depends on if I’m using tungsten or brass beads or unweighted flies.

Fly Fishing Bow River in the Spring Deep Nymph Rig 

Dry Dropper

I’ll often nymph in shallow water in the early spring if the water speed is right. (Walking Speed)  In these cases, it doesn’t make sense to me having the indicator, weight and all that gear in the water.  I like to tie on a big foam fly as an indicator and then one or two flies below. I like this set up especially if I’m fishing water depth of 4 feet or less. I’ll often tie two nymphs below the foam fly.  Play around with this set up to your preference. It’s effective and much nicer to cast. For new or beginner fly casters, you might not like this in the windy conditions that accompany Spring fishing.

Best Flies for Fly Fishing Bow River in the Spring.

Some thoughts on Spring Presentations

During the early spring, I tend to slow down my presentations and work the water a little more diligently. Try to remember, fish are cold blooded, and the water is still cold in early April. Trout may not be willing to move very far for a fake meal. Be patient and methodical in your presentation. Fishy magic depends on what you do AFTER your fly lands on the water. I will always adjust my depth before I change my fly. I actually employ a dry dropper set up all year while fishing water less than 5 feet in depth. If I need to go deeper, faster, then I’ll throw on a bobber (Strike Indicator) 😊

Get out there and enjoy your water! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different presentations and work the water. It’s the best therapy I know.

If you’re looking to get into it, give us a look. We’ll introduce you to an amazing opportunity for endless adventure and lifelong learning.

fly fishing training

Fly Fishing Therapy

By Scott Smith, Lead Guide

I am a fly fisherman. I have been a student of fly fishing for over 25 years and teach it as well. Fly fishing is more than just throwing a line into the water and waiting for something to bite. It is about balance, mindfulness, and casting away your cares for a moment of rest and relaxation—a respite from life’s worries; a chance to become one with nature; an opportunity to feel at peace with yourself. Fly fishing offers therapy for the mind, body and soul.

Essential Elements of Fly Fishing

Fly fishing is a sport that requires patience and focus. You can’t expect to catch fish by just throwing your line in the water, so it’s important to know what you’re doing and how to fish properly. Learning the skills necessary to consistently have fish at least look at your fly is the journey. Learn to enjoy the process.

Fly fishing is not just about catching fish—it’s also about the experience of being in nature. It’s about getting out there and appreciating all that the outdoors has to offer.

Fly fishing is a social sport; you can go with friends or by yourself! While fly fishing alone may seem intimidating at first, it can actually be very enjoyable if done right. I’ve learned to put the fly rod down and enjoy what’s around me while I’m basking in solitude.

The Balance Between Process and Product

Balancing process, product, and experience is essential to the pursuit of fly fishing.

The process is the journey from beginning to end; it’s the act of getting your line in the water and casting out. It’s about learning where the fish are, what they’re eating, why they’re eating, when they’re eating. It’s the experience of figuring it all out, only to go back to discover everything you were successful with yesterday, isn’t going to work today. The product is what you experience at each stage along that journey—whether that’s catching a fish or not catching one at all (and whether or not it matters). And then there are the people you meet along the way: guides, shop owners, fellow anglers…all these people help create an experience that goes beyond just going out into nature by yourself or with friends and family to cast around for trout.

The Science of Mindfulness with Fly Fishing

The power of mindfulness can be harnessed to help you relax, improve your focus, and even increase your ability to handle stress. It’s all about fully engaging with the present moment, which is one of the hardest things for us humans to do (especially if we’re stressed or anxious). Just think of how many times someone has told you “Don’t worry about it—it’ll be fine.” That’s an example of how hard it is for us not to worry about things!

We can use fly fishing as a way of practicing mindfulness because it requires us to be present in order for our minds and bodies to work together efficiently. When we are fly fishing, we must pay attention both physically and mentally. We need our bodies’ muscles coordinated in order for our arms and legs (and sometimes torso) movements to properly propel the rod forward through space so that when we cast out there will be enough energy behind the line at its maximum distance from where we stand on dry land (the reel end). But this only occurs when all these body parts are working together harmoniously because they’ve been trained over time through repetition—by casting thousands upon thousands of times before finally getting good enough at it so that casting becomes second nature…

Fly Fishing Therapy is all about mindfulness, balance, and casting away your cares.

Fly fishing is a sport that can be enjoyed by everyone. It’s a great way to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, while also getting exercise and enjoying nature. The sport requires you to be mindful of what you’re doing, so you’ll have time to clear your head and focus on something other than all your daily responsibilities.

Fly fishing can help bring balance into your life because it requires physical strength and endurance but also demands patience and calmness in order to catch fish-something that doesn’t come naturally for most people unless they practice it regularly (or meditate).

Final Thoughts on Fly Fishing Therapy

Fly fishing is a way to be present in the moment, to let go of your worries, and connect with nature. It’s also a great way to spend time with friends or family members. For me, fly fishing has always been about mindfulness—but it doesn’t have to be that way for everyone. The important thing is that you find something that brings peace and balance into your life so that you can stay focused on the task at hand. Whether that means taking up fly fishing or some other pastime depends on what works best for each person! We are professional guides and get to live on the amazing Bow River near Calgary Alberta. If you’re looking for a great experience, we’d love to see you on your own fly fishing excursion!

bow river fly fishing for kids and family

Fly Fishing Lessons and Adventures for Kids

By Scott Smith, Lead Fly Fishing Guide

I’ve spent most of my adult life as a river guide, and I’ve seen all kinds of people come through the doors. Every now and then, though, there’s someone who catches me off guard with their enthusiasm for fly fishing. Usually, they’re kids. Six-year-olds with skinned knees who want to know how to tie on a dry fly because their uncle told them that he did it when he went fishing with his dad. This is great! Kids are the future of our sport, but if we want them to stick around for long enough to develop into lifelong anglers (or even just enjoy themselves for one weekend), we need to make sure that they have fun out on the water—and not just catch fish

Find a Mentor

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “knowledge is power.” With that in mind, it’s no wonder that so many people are interested in learning about fly fishing for kids. What your mentor has to say could be the difference between a good experience and an amazing one.

So how do you find someone who can teach you how to fly fish? You may be lucky enough to have a friend or relative who can help out. If not, consider joining a club or getting involved with an organization that promotes fly fishing for kids. There are many groups out there (like Trout Unlimited) that welcome new members every year and will encourage them to get involved as quickly as possible. If none of these options work for you, try asking around at local fly shops—they’ll know where all of their customers hang out, so they’ll likely have some leads!

Safety

Know the area you’re fishing in. Everyone should wear a life jacket when on board a boat, and this goes double for kids. It’s also a good idea to put the kids in a life jacket if you’re fishing in swift moving water.

Be sure to take care of yourself as well: don’t forget sunscreen!

Be sure to stay hydrated and bring plenty of water with you. Make sure that everyone in your group has a life jacket on, and make sure that the boats are properly equipped with first aid kits, flares, and other safety gear.

Fishing License

Fishing licenses are usually sold at sporting goods stores, fly shops, and the like. You can also get a fishing license online. The cost varies depending on whether or not you’re a resident of that province. Be sure to check your local regulations.

Licenses generally last for one year from the date of purchase. Kids and Seniors don’t generally need a license, but if you’re the adult fishing with them, you’re going to need one.

Equipment

There are a few points to remember when selecting equipment for your child. The most important is that they’re going to be able to use it themselves, so make sure anything you buy is age appropriate and fits into the size of their hands. You don’t want them struggling with too many tangled knots or having too much trouble handling their gear for fear of dropping it in the water and getting frustrated while trying to get the cast right.

There are some great beginner kits available online and at your local fishing shop. For smaller hands we use the Echo Gecko kit. I don’t have any affiliation with Echo, but we love these outfits for kids. The grip is narrow, the rod is shorter than adult rods, and it’s easy to get the line moving. Your local fly shop can point you in the right direction. However, kids can certainly use adult gear easy enough. Especially when you’re testing the waters. If you’re not sure what kind of gear would be best for your kid yet, just ask an employee who knows their stuff at the store; they can help find something suitable without breaking the bank.

Knots And Tangles

Whether it’s a loop knot or a clinch knot, you’ll need some knowledge of knots to keep your line in place.

If you’ve never tied a fishing knot before and want to learn how, don’t worry! Knot tying is one of the easiest skills to learn how to do on the fly; it only takes a little practice and patience. Once you get the hang of it, there are all kinds of different knots that can help make your fishing trip more enjoyable and successful. With some basic instruction and practice, even kids can learn how to tie on their own flies when out on the water with parents or friends for an afternoon adventure!

There are going to be tangles, lots of tangles. Your job is to be patient and remind the kids, this is all part of the process. Make sure you have lots of leaders, tippet and a pair of good snippers!

What to Bring

  • Rod
  • Leaders and Tippet
  • Flies
  • Waders (if you need them)
  • Boots or wading shoes. They’re going to get wet.
  • Bug Collector. Collect the bugs you’re imitating and make it educational.
  • Rain gear
  • Snacks and drinks

Fly fishing is a great family activity. It’s good for bonding, learning something new, and getting outside.

Fly fishing is a great family activity. It’s good for bonding, learning something new, and getting outside. In fact, there are many ways to enjoy fly fishing as a family:

  • You can teach your kids how to hold the rod correctly and give them some basic pointers about casting and then let them experiment. There are no bad casts.
  • Go where you know fish are holding. It’s great if they can see the fish. This creates a great opportunity to learn about fish behavior.
  • Focus on the process and learning something new. The fish will come.

Conclusion

Fly fishing is a great family activity. It’s good for bonding, learning something new, and getting outside. I hope this article gave you some ideas on where to start! We have lesson programs and family floats that will help accelerate the learning curve. We’d love to introduce you and your crew to our sport!

Book your flyfishing adventure today!

tourists from usa choose bow river fly fishing in alberta

Why Are Tourists Choosing the Bow River as their Fly Fishing Travel Destination?

tourists from usa choose bow river fly fishing in alberta

If you’re looking for a great fly fishing destination, the Bow River should be at the top of your list. This scenic river offers wild Rainbow and Brown Trout, Rocky Mountain Whitefish, as well as some beautiful scenery.

The Bow is also a great place to spend a weekend camping out or staying in Calgary with all of the luxuries and conveniences that the city offers.

Keep reading to discover how to choose the best fly fishing company package when coming from overseas, and tips to make the most of your trip in Alberta.

fishing guide alberta with trout

Which Fly Fishing Company Offers the Best Packages to International Visitors?

When it comes to finding the best fly fishing company that offers packages to international visitors, there are a few factors that you need to take into consideration.

The first thing you need to think about is what kind of fishing experience you are looking to have. Some companies specialize in freshwater trout fishing, while others offer a saltwater experience found in sea and ocean charters. The Bow River offers some of the best freshwater fishing around.

Once you have narrowed down your search, take a look at the different fishing packages that each company offers.

Many companies have different packages for international visitors, which can include everything from flights and accommodations to fishing guides and equipment rental.

It’s also important to consider the cost of the different packages. Some companies are more expensive than others, but often you get what you pay for when it comes to fly fishing.

Ultimately, the best company for you will depend on your individual needs and budget.

If you are a first-time fly fisher coming from overseas and want a first-class, educational, yet fun and memorable day trip on the water, Bow River Fly Fishing Company is the right choice for you.

We provide all the necessary gear, instructions, and experienced guides to make your adventure a day trip you will remember for a lifetime!

As lifelong students of fly fishing we love to see you pick up on the excitement we feel every time we cast a line. We are happy to work together with you to customize your fly fishing excursions!

We are one of the most popular fly-fishing companies in the Calgary area welcoming visitors from all around the world, including fly fishing enthusiasts from south of the border in the USA, to Europe, and even Australia.

And we are continuing to customize and expand our fishing trip packages to make sure everything is accounted for; especially for visitors coming from overseas.

How to Choose the Best Alberta Fly Fishing Package when Coming from Overseas?

When traveling from overseas, picking the best Alberta fly fishing package can be difficult. You want to make sure you get the most out of your trip, while also ensuring that everything is taken care of for you.

Here are a few tips to help you choose the perfect package:

Package Cost

Some packages are more expensive than others, but it’s important to make sure that you’re getting what you expect for your money.

Location Package

Some packages are located in remote areas, while others are closer to civilization. If you’re looking for a remote experience, be sure to choose a package that’s located in a good fishing area. We’re happy to answer any questions about our Alberta rivers and streams and what they offer for fly fishers.

Travel Plans

Some areas of Alberta are only accessible by plane or boat, so make sure you choose a package that’s close to where you want to fish. We specialize in fishing the Blue Ribbon stretch of the Bow River, below the city of Calgary.

Fishing Type

Alberta offers some great trout fly fishing opportunities, but there are also plenty of other types of fish available in different parts of the province.

Do some research on the different areas and choose one that offers the type of fishing you’re interested in.

family of tourists come from usa, europe, australia on bow river

Package Features

Some packages include all of your meals, while others require you to bring your food. Likewise, some packages include lodging, while others do not.

At Bow River Fly Fishing Company, we offer multiple packages to suit everybody’s needs.

From family fly fishing trips that are kid-friendly and can accommodate 2 parents and 2 kids, to a full-day fly fishing trip where you can spend up to 12 hours with one of our experienced, fun-loving guides.

We’re also offering unique accommodation at Spirit River Ranch near Calgary, situated right on the banks of the Bow River.

Plus, we are open to customizing your fly fishing trip and provide additional resources including but not limited to: Layered clothing appropriate for the season, sunscreen, sunglasses, and more.

Feel free to explore all our offerings and fly fishing packages here.

5 Tips When Booking Your Fly Fishing Trip in Alberta

Planning a fly fishing trip can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging if you don’t know what to do.

We will start with some general tips to make the process easier and ensure that your trip is a success.

Then, we move on to fly fishing tips in Alberta, especially for people coming from overseas.

fly fishing bow river drift boat

Start By Determining What Type of Trip You Want

Do you want to fish for trout in a remote mountain location, experience fishing from a drift boat, or hunt pike in a large lake? Is this a family vacation or a fishing excursion with friends? Are you a first-time fly fisher who wants to spend extensive time with an experienced guide?

Once you know what type of trip you want, start researching destinations that fit your criteria.

Shop Around

There are many great fly fishing destinations out there, so be sure to compare prices and find the one that’s best for you.

Alternatively, you can talk to friends who have been on fly fishing trips and get their recommendations on where to go and what to do when you’re there.

Plan Your Trip Carefully

Make sure you know what each destination has to offer and what type of fishing you’re interested in doing. Also, make sure to research the regulations governing fishing in your destination country or state.

After selecting a destination, book your flights and lodging as soon as possible. Many popular fishing destinations are booked months in advance, so don’t wait until the last minute to make reservations.

fishing guide outfitters netting trout

If you are coming from overseas for a fly fishing trip to Alberta, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Tip 1: Plan Ahead

One of the most important things is deciding when to go. The fishing season in Alberta generally peaks between April and October. If you’re planning to fish the famous Bow River, keep in mind we experience a mountain run off period, where the river becomes unfishable for most of June. Make sure you ask your outfitter about river conditions.

So, when booking your fly fishing trip in Alberta, be sure to ask your guide about the best time of year to go. Some areas are only available for fly fishing during certain times of the year.

Tip 2: Get the Licensing Part Ready

Make sure you are familiar with the regulations and licensing requirements for fly fishing in Alberta. Some specific rules and regulations govern fly fishing in this province, so be sure to know what they are before you go.

Tip 3: Choose your Destination Wisely 

Not all areas of Alberta are created equal when it comes to fly fishing. Therefore, make sure to do some research beforehand to find out which area best suits your interests.

Another thing to consider is what type of fish you want to catch. Alberta is home to many different types of fish, including rainbow and brown trout.

You will want to choose a location that corresponds with the type of fish you are targeting.

Tip 4: Get the Gear Ready

Make sure you have the right gear and equipment for the type of fishing you plan on doing – this can make all the difference in terms of the fly fishing trip experience.

Get fitted for a good-quality fly fishing rod and reel before your trip, and it’s important to have the right gear when heading out on the water. We provide equipment as part of all our packages, please inquire to learn more.

Also, dress appropriately for fly fishing in Alberta. The weather can be unpredictable, so it’s best to come prepared for anything.

fishing guide alberta with trout drift boat

Tip 5: Make Sure You Book with a Reputable Company

There are many fly fishing companies in Alberta, so do your research and choose one that fits your needs. Here are some reasons why choosing a reputable company is a big deal for people coming from overseas:

Experienced Guides

A good fly fishing company will have experienced guides who know the area well and can help you catch fish. They will also be able to teach you the proper techniques for fly fishing at all levels. Our guides are full time, spend a lot of time on the water and love being out there.

Knowledgeable Staff

The staff at a good fly fishing company will be knowledgeable about all aspects of the sport, from casting to tying flies. They can answer any questions you may have and help you get the most out of your trip. At Bow River Fly Fishing Company, you’re booking directly with Scott Smith, owner and head guide.

Quality Equipment

A good fly fishing company will provide high-quality equipment for its guests. At Bow River Fly Fishing Company we provide all that and more! We specialize in working with first-time fly fishers and love to introduce everyone to this pass-time turned obsession.

We offer a wide variety of fishing trip packages and can customize a fishing adventure for your family, a corporate event, or a large group.

Book your fly fishing trips and excursions today!

Bow River Fly Fishing – Final Thoughts

There are many reasons why tourists are choosing the Bow River as their fly fishing travel destination.

The river is known for its world-class trout fishing, and there are many different sections of the river that offer something for anglers of all abilities. The scenery is also spectacular and it’s easy to find a quiet spot to fish on the Bow River.

What’s more, the city of Calgary is located close by, so visitors can enjoy all the amenities of a city while still enjoying the peace and tranquillity of nature.

corporate fly fishing trips bow river alberta

Corporate Fly Fishing Trips on the Bow River in 2022

corporate fly fishing trips bow river alberta

By Scott Smith, Lead Fishing Guide

GET OUT THERE!

Grab your team, clients, family and friends and get out of the Office!

Corporate fly fishing trips hosted by Bow River Fly Fishing Company is a great way to appreciate your team, colleagues and customers. The change of scene and a shared, fun activity provides a unique opportunity for your employees, members and colleagues to build better communication, stronger relationships and most importantly, have fun during an adventure of a lifetime!

Bow River Fly Fishing Company is a Bow River Outfitter offering corporate day trips suitable for 12 or less people. Whatever the occasion, perhaps a team member’s birthday, corporate anniversary or celebration for a recent success, our group fishing trips are a perfect fit.

Lessons, Laughs, Lunch and the Odd Fish

Suitable for first time Fly Fishers and Experienced Anglers alike. We’ll have most people casting well enough to catch fish within 15 minutes of picking up the fly rod.

Our guided fishing experiences take the pressure of all the details and lets you and your team focus on the adventure at hand, learning new skills and taking in the breath-taking views along the Bow River valley. We may also encounter a variety of wildlife, from hawks and eagles to deer and elk.

Experience tells us when you focus on a new task, your mind relaxes. The daily challenges and bothers often take a break while you learn or improve on a repetitive skill.

For us, the best part of the day is watching someone get more confident as the day goes on. We’ve seen so many catch their first fish on a Fly Rod, or even their first fish ever. It’s also exciting to see your co workers or friends hook up as you cheer them on!

Bragging rights and Side Bets are welcome for biggest, smallest, and most trout to the net, or whatever you can dream up!

We’ll stop a few times so you can shore fish in some choice spots, catch up with your crew and lie about how big your trout was. (The guide may or may not back up your story.)

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The Best Fishing Spots Along the Bow River

Lunch will be set up and provided as a group. A great time to wander around, take it in and get those news letter pics.

The Bow River offers a variety of trout fishing from April to November each year. Our fishing guides will take you to some of the best fishing spots on the Bow, either from the shoreline or from our drift boats.

We can plan a fully catered lunch for your group, that may include a BBQ and snacks for your full day on the river.

We provide quality fishing gear and safety equipment for all participants. Read the details on our Booking page.

Here are some answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Yes, there is a good chance you will hook some trout.
  • Yes, we provide all the gear, Rods, Leaders, Flies, etc.
  • Yes, you need a Valid AB Sport Fishing License.
  • No, you don’t need any experience.
  • Yes, we can heckle the other boats in your group.
  • Yes, we provide lunch. Typically, a damn fine BBQ spread.
  • No, you can’t keep the fish. Catch and Release Only.
  • Yes, timing, pick up, etc. is always customized to your group needs.

large group fly fishing trips bow river alberta

Corporate Fly Fishing Trips = Great Day Out of the Office

Great for Team Building, Retirement Gifts, Client Appreciation, and a great way to re-charge.

Our little team love what they do. Great teachers, with endless patience and each think they’re funny and entertaining.

Look at our video, stalk around the website and let us know if we can put a package together for you and your crew.

Warning:

Learning to Fly Fish may have the following side effects:

  • Increased Time Off a.k.a “Fishin’ Fridays”.
  • Lies to significant others about how much your fishing gear cost.
  • A surplus of solitude.
  • Annoying habit of pointing out the names of bugs.
  • On walks along any river with your spouse, you will point out every spot a fish should be holding. (They love this.)

Book your large group or corporate fly fishing trip this season!

learn how to fly fish with guide bow river

Discover Fly Fishing Lessons for Beginners in Alberta

By Scott Smith, Lead Fishing Guide 

Welcome to Fly Fishing!

Snake Oil and Magic Beans.

You’ll learn to wave the magic stick over the water and produce fish on every command. You will be flawless in your technique; always make the right fly choice and land every fish you encounter. Your skills will bring fish to your net every time you venture out to your favourite waters.

The truth lies somewhere in the pursuit of perfection, the peace it brings, the need to know what’s around the next corner.  At least that’s why I do it. Your reasons can be entirely something else. Somehow, that makes Fly Fishing a worthy pastime (read obsession) in my opinion.

There are some links included below, so you can explore some of the technical stuff. I can tell you, there is nothing like the real experience of a guided fly fishing excursion!

What Will I Learn on a Guided Trip?

Above all else, Have some fun! This is YOUR Day! Don’t take yourself, or us too seriously. Take lots of pictures.

learn how to tie flies for fly fishing on the Bow River in Alberta.

Fly Fishing Knots and Line

It seems obvious, but often overlooked by new fly fishers. Knots are critical.

Read this great blog post from DriftHook.com about how to tie fly fishing knots.

You’ll need to have a few basic knots in your tool belt. We’ll show you a few basics to tie line together and attach your flies to your line. Yes, you will practice these on your trip.

You can learn about specific knots like the improved clinch knot, blood knot, overhand knot, surgeon’s knot and the albright knot.

Many a fine trout has been lost due to a poorly tied knot. It’s never happened to me, but I’ve heard stories.

There are several knots that have no name, but often have colourful adjectives associated with them. You will become an expert at these with a simple flick of your wrist! The line will be tangled so badly and quickly, you’ll be baffled that what’s before you is actually even real!

I find a sense of humour and a decent set of snippers are critical in these situations.

Learn Fly Casting

You must be able to place a fly well enough to fool your quarry. Yes, we can help you do this!

Your first few casts may appear you are trying to swat the fish away intentionally. However, with some practice and some easy-to-follow instruction, you will begin to present the fly with hypnotic precision! Well, maybe not hypnotic or even precise, but well enough to catch fish. That’s all we need on day one!

Where Are the Fish?

Yes, you are moving the line. It’s obeying and landing mostly where you want it to.  Well done! This is fantastic news and a boost to our confidence! Question, how come you’re not catching anything?

Other than seeing the fish you are casting to; you really need to know how to read the water. That is, you need to know where fish are likely to hold.

Fly casting into the water is an excellent start, but the fish are not actually everywhere in a river.

We will go through this process with you the entire trip and teach you the basics. You will be whispering in big trout in no time!

Bugs, So Many Bugs

Yes, Fly selection is important. Size, Colour, Profile, depth, season etc.

I have heard it or read somewhere that trout have an IQ of about 3.

I am not at all concerned that they fool me consistently. I like to believe I’m matching wits with Mother Nature and not just the small minded, single purposed trout. Yeah, Mother Nature is wise and I’m in sync with her.  Makes me feel better on those slow days.

You’re gonna need plenty of flies! I mean, the rainbow trout will eat one of them, right?

Learn more about which bugs Bow River Trout love and prefer throughout the season on our fly fishing resources page.

We will cover bug identification, selection and how to fish them in very basic terms. This will be enough to get you started on your journey.

fly fishing lessons for beginners

 Join Us this Fly Fishing Season near Calgary, Alberta!

Our goal is to introduce you to a pastime that has become a lifelong pursuit for us. We want you to learn to fish and then leave us and see for yourself what’s around the next corner. Oh, and take your fly rod with you.

Book your spot for one of our guided fly fishing trips including our Beginners Float! Get one-on-one fishing lessons from one of our experienced guides and enjoy access to some of the best fishing spots in Alberta.

learn how to fly fish with guide bow river

Fly Fishing Lessons and More!

We offer a variety of fly fishing packages from half day and evening adventures to full day excursions, private shoreline fishing lessons.

We can even put the flies aside and take you on a Bow River sight seeing adventure, where you can experience the beauty of the Bow Valley and Southern Alberta, for its majestic landscapes in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and all of its wildlife.

Learning to Fly Fish on the Bow River could be your next adventure. If so, we’d love to see you. And as always, if you have any questions about our guide services, feel free to contact us here or on social media.