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!

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.)

corporate fly fishing trip bbq bow river alberta

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!

bow river fly fishing landed trout

Bow River Adventure #64 – The Shoe-less Trout Story

By Scott Smith, Fishing Guide

Great trout fishing days are plenty, but great fishing moments are where stories are born, exaggerated and become “mostly” true the more they are told.

This story is mostly true. 2021 Fall. Fishing on the Bow River with fellow guide Luke Russell.

Take a few minutes and enjoy.

Rainbow Snacks (AKA BWO’s)

I’m on the oars in Luke’s boat, rowing him into fish like a champ. Luke is sticking several nice Bow River Trout and I’m doing the same. We happen upon a very happy, active, feeding fish. We can see him taking BWO’s, sipping in a rhythm that let’s us know he’s happy and in a good place spiritually. I spotted this fish the day before, at around the same time of day, but couldn’t cast to it. I was fishing solo.

We pull over to have a go at this nice-looking Rainbow.

Small problem. The fish is directly above the roots of a downed tree, tucked in near the trunk with the roots giving it roughly 3 feet of protection to it’s left. We can’t stand upstream of the fish on the steep bank without spooking it, or at least this is what our semi professional instincts tell us.

We pull in down stream of the tree roots, park the drift boat out of sight and climb up the ridge to take a better look and assess the situation. After all, this is a feeding fish. Feeding fish are easy to catch, right?

Seriously, problem solving on our day off?

Climbing the ridge, we stay low. I’m not sure it made a difference, but in case anyone was watching, we looked like we knew what we were doing.

bow river fly fishing blog rainbow trout

There he is. A nice looking male, sipping casually and consistently AND we could see the bugs floating right into his yap. We chose to watch him for several minutes and of course, I didn’t think to get any video. Like I said, this story is mostly true.

It’s decided that Luke will cast to the fish. He can’t stand in the river below the fish. He would have to wade too deep and the current deflection from the root ball is too strong, not to mention the noise and thrashing would likely scare our quarry to deeper cover. As mentioned, we are semi professionals.

Well that didn’t work!

The plan is Luke will stand in the front of the boat, I will stand behind the boat and push it out just far enough so Luke can cast upstream of the fish, letting his presentation float into the food line. Textbook plan and easy to execute. We can hardly contain ourselves with anticipation!

I can’t see the fish at all from my vantage point, so I rely on Luke’s guidance for boat placement. Our worthy opponent, sees the fly, refuses the fly and continues to eat the naturals. We can hear it snicker.

We pull the drift boat back out of sight to re-group.

Another trip up the bank. I now have sand and silt in my wading sandals, enough to make me annoyed and uncomfortable. Yes, I am a fair-weather adventurer. This becomes important in a minute.

Once again, staying low, I get to my vantage point. No fish. Gone. Just not there. Damn, we put it down.

Luke joins me to see for himself. I am getting older and, well, you know.  Satisfied, Luke heads back to the boat. Let’s get on with it.

Generous Rainbow gives us a second chance! (Good Karma is real)

I look a little longer. Patience rewarded; our friendly rainbow appears from the main seam. He floats out of sight and back again a couple of times. Soon enough he’s grabbed a table and starts feeding again. This time, he is on nymphs. I can see his mouth opening and the tell-tale sway trout have when they feed on nymphs. (Read more about the types of bugs Bow River trout like on our resources page.)

“Luke he’s back, feeding on nymphs now” Luke is at my side again and with a quick nod, heads back to the boat, grabs his Hopper Dropper rod and gets in position.

Yeah, we’re still gonna try our best NOT to land this fish.

I head back down the bank, stopping in the shallows to clean my sandals. Thinking Luke will wait the 45 seconds for me to rinse out the annoying sand and gravel. Remember, fair-weather adventurer.

The next thing I hear, as I’m sitting on the bank, one sandal in my hand and one half on my foot, “Scott, I got em! Scott, get in the boat! I got em! He’s taking me upstream, around the tree, he’s gonna break off! Scott, Scott!!”  For some reason, this exchange comes out of Luke as a loud, deliberate whisper.

A little surprised and now laughing hysterically at my fishing partner and myself, one shoe off, one half on, I must pull the boat closer to shore so I can get in and help rescue the mission.

In the same loud whisper, now sounding a little more desperate. “Scott, you’re pulling the boat the wrong way, I can’t stretch anymore!”

Now completely in stiches, one of the oars gets stuck in the sand! “Scott, Scott, we’re gonna lose him!”

It’s not lost on me, landing the fish is in jeopardy and the narrative has now changed from “I got him,” to “WE’RE gonna lose him.”  I would say the same thing to Luke if the roles were reversed. I’m sure I have on several occasions. That’s just how it works.

The Shoe-less Trout gets Netted

Somehow, this fish stays on, Luke plays him masterfully and we get the boat and fish clear of the tree. A few feet down river the fish is in the net. Luke probably mentioned something about damn fine boat skills, but I’m kind of humble.

We pause for a picture, mostly because we are both still laughing hysterically and quite honestly can’t believe this is a landed trout.

We hope your adventures are many, your tangles are few and your stories get bigger and bolder the more you tell them.

Check out our 2022 fly fishing packages to book your spot early. Feel free to get in touch if a Bow River Fly Fishing Adventure looks like a good day out!

fly fishing 2021

Bow River Fly Fishing Company Launches into Spring 2021

by Scott Smith, Lead Guide

The 2021 Bow River fly fishing guiding season is upon us. We are very excited for relaxing drifts, tight lines and plenty of excitement hooking our world class trout!

It was a pleasure to have so many local Calgary area, new and experienced fly fishers in our drift boats last season. I know 2021 will introduce many more to the sport of fly fishing.

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The Adventure Begins

Kevin, Luke and I are well into this year’s adventures. Spring has already been pretty good, with several floats and days on the water under our belts already. The old Hyde Drift Boat has been getting a workout and I just can’t seem to part with her, while Luke and Kevin have both invested in new rides.

As far as I’m concerned, they are not real river boats until we bounce them off a few rocks and scrape up the bottom…..Now that’s drift boat fishing!

I enjoy fishing with these two guys on the Bow whenever we get the chance. Always a lot of laughs and we learn from each other. We also show no mercy. I can tell you when one of us hooks up, it’s like all three of us caught that wild trout.

If you happen to lose a fish though, you’re on your own and it’s always your own bloody fault. As we say in the boat, “Fish Better”. We should all have those kinds of fishing buddies.

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Guiding on the Bow River

We often get asked why we guide this fly fishing destination. The first thing you need to know is we love to fish. We’re obsessed with this sport! Secondly, we particularly love the Bow River.

Every time we dip the oars in the water, it’s a different experience. Sometimes you’re a hero on this river and sometimes it’s like you’ve never fished it before.

We love sharing the Bow River and Fly fishing, with anyone that shows an interest. We know many great fishing spots that offer some of the best fishing near Calgary.

We also have great relationships with our local fly shops and local fly makers, which will further enrich your excursions on the Bow. Having the right gear and the right guide can make all the difference in the world!

If you start talking fishing with one of us, you’re going to be in for a long conversation that could include such words as caddis, ferrule, fingerling, floatant, monofilament, nymphing and tippet. You will probably have to somehow, politely excuse yourself. Sorry in advance.

While experiencing the beauty of the Bow River and its surrounding Rocky Mountain landscapes and riparian wildlife firsthand is ideal, you can get introduced on our “About the Bow River” page.

Before You Book Your Guided Fly Fishing Trips

If you’re thinking of planning a trip, you should know a few things before you book with us:

  1. We don’t take ourselves very seriously. This is about having fun and relaxing.
  2. You can learn to make a simple fly cast in 10 minutes. Good enough to hook a fish.
  3. We lose track of time while we’re out there. Sometimes you need to nudge us to get you off the water.

If you’re interested in learning this sport, fishing with an experienced guide is a great place to start. We would love to have you in our Boats and show you the Bow River we get to enjoy.

Check out our Fly Fishing Trips & Boat Tours and see if we have a package that fits.

Fish species found in the Bow include brown trout, rainbow trout, bull trout and cutthroat trout. We offer a seasonal feeding schedule for the major trout food groups and our favourite flies for each. Check out our important fly fishing resources to keep informed about the weather forecast and Bow River flow rate.

We offer many options for half day and full day trips, unique adventures, private shoreline lessons and even family float trips!

These are great options for day trips from Calgary, where you can gain invaluable knowledge with our fly fishing lessons, tips and tricks. No matter what your skill level, we can accommodate.

We are also happy to look at customizing your day to suit special requests such as multi day float fishing trips for those eager to make the most of their time on the water.

There is no losing in fishing. You either catch or you learn. Either way it’s always better than work!