First-Time Fly Fishing Experience with George: A Memorable Rainy Day Float

By Scott Smith, Lead Guide

Meeting George: A Newcomer to Fly Fishing

At the end of May last season, George, exuding a classic Alberta blue-collar vibe, called me while I was at the tire shop getting new tires for the old Fishin’ Truck. He spoke with purpose and clarity about wanting to try fly fishing without immediately investing in all the gear. Consequently, we arranged his first time fly fishing lessons with a Half Day Lesson Float, which is ideal for beginners.

beginner fly fishing lessons on bow river with George.

The Chilly Start of Our Adventure

We met near Mackinnon Flats on June 1st, a day characterized by overcast skies and a consistent, cold drizzle. This weather, while not ideal, was pretty close to what one would hope for in early summer. However, the light breeze was enough to create a noticeable chill.

Initially, I was expecting someone closer to my age. I am seasoned—let’s just leave it at that. Surprisingly, George was a 21-year-old with a beaming smile, dressed in jeans, a light hoodie, and cowboy boots, topped with a trucker’s cap. He greeted me with a firm handshake, and I could immediately feel his excitement.

George’s Optimism and Preparations

“Great to meet you, George. Grab the rest of your gear and throw it in my truck,” I welcomed him. Amused, he replied, “This is all I brought.” I smiled and shook my head, then gestured for him to hop into the passenger seat of the Tundra. Despite my instructions to dress for the weather, George was underprepared, but I reassured him, “Not to worry, I have waders, boots, and rain gear for you.”

George’s Background and Independence

During the ride to the boat launch, I learned that George worked on the oil rigs and had recently left a Hutterite Colony. This independence was new to him, and he had left with only a few personal possessions. His spirit impressed me as he talked about his new adventures.

Convincing George to Dress Appropriately

At the launch, it only took a minute to convince George to dress appropriately. He showed a feigned reluctance while sliding on the waders and the rain jacket I offered him. After handing him a fly rod and taking a quick inventory, we set off.

Fly Fishing Lessons Begin

I anchored in a shallow run, and we began the casting lesson. Teaching beginners from the boat has always been effective, and George quickly grasped the basics. With my coaching, he worked on his casting and mending.

A Day Without Distractions

The river was exclusively ours that day. We saw no other boats at the launch that morning and no other vehicles were parked, which indicated we would likely have no interruptions. It’s rare to have a world-class trout river all to yourself.

George’s First Catch

As we drifted into a likely riffle, George executed a decent cast. “Okay, cast again about 6 feet past where my oar is pointing,” I instructed. After a big mend upstream and a floating bobber, the indicator hesitated. “Set!” I yelled. Before George could react, a sizable Bow River Rainbow trout leapt out of the water. The line went tight, and George gripped it against the base of the rod as I had shown him, but the line went slack suddenly. George erupted into laughter, thrilled by the experience. “Did you see that? I had him!” he exclaimed, clearly hooked on fly fishing.

More Success and Memorable Moments

The boat slid into a mid-river shelf where we continued our fly fishing efforts. After a few casts and corrections, George’s indicator signaled another catch. As he managed to keep the rod bent and the line tight, he skillfully allowed the fish to take line without losing touch. “Like this? Like this?!” he yelled excitedly.

George’s First Successful Catch

“Yeah, man! You’re doing great!” I encouraged. After a few more strategic maneuvers, I slid the net under the fish, and George had his first successful catch on a fly rod. “That was amazing! Just so cool! Did you see that?” he exclaimed, still vibrating with excitement.

beginner fly fishing lessons on bow river, catching a trout in net.

Reflections on a Day Well Spent

It’s true that we remember moments. George and I had an outstanding day, despite the rain and cold, and we landed several more fish. While I don’t recall many details of the rest of the day, that first fish is etched in my memory.

Inviting New Anglers

We love bringing new fly fishers into memorable moments. If one of our fly fishing adventures appeals to you, get in touch, and we’ll set you up for a great time on the water!