ideal short trip combines top-drawer trout fishing with first-class outfitter
Superb trout fishing rarely occurs close to urban centers, let alone in rivers that flow gently through the center of town. But many trophy brown and rainbow trout have been taken from the Bow River, which is a few long casts away from sprawling Calgary.
Born in the lakes and streams of Banff National Park, the Bow winds its way towards Calgary, hosting a reasonable but not a big population of trout. But after it reaches Calgary, the Bow changes character, with flowing beds of aquatic weeds, prolific insect hatches, and squadrons of hungry, rising trout. For the next 40 miles, until it reaches the weir at Coarseland, the Bow offers some of the best fly fishing in North America.
Both browns and rainbows have thrived in the Bow. Both species average a hefty 16 inches, and far larger trout, often in excess of 20 inches are taken daily. Each season several exceeding 25 inches are landed and released. The largest was a shade over 30 inches! Originally Bow River trout were almost too easy to catch, but increased angling pressure have trout much smarter and require more finesse. However, even the trout fishing novice can do well on the Bow if he listens and follows the advice of his guide.
Insect hatches have diminished somewhat over the years, but dry-fly fishing continues to be one of the reasons fly fishermen flock to the Bow. There’s a wealth of both mayflies and caddis flies hatching throughout the summer season, plus the occasional stonefly. As late summer winds begin to sweep across the plains, terrestrial fishing heats up, and many a good trout has fallen to a grasshopper imitation plunked down next to a grassy bank. Nymphs and streamers are nearly always consistent producers.
They know nearly every rock, every riffle of their river, and have spent years learning the most productive stretches. They are a thoroughly professional group, exceptionally hard working as well as pleasant companions eager to teach anyone what it takes to fool Bow River trout. There is fishing from the boat but also wading at various strategic places–so bring your waders.
Anglers drift different sections of the river each day. Public access is limited and thus having a guide and boat allows anglers to cover a good deal of water far from crowded landings.
After a long day of successful fishing, anglers retreat to a local hotel just minutes from the river. Modern accommodations are standard, along with a relaxing pool and hot tub. Several nearby restaurants provide breakfast and dinner, while wonderful lunches are included streamside during angling days.
Calgary is an impressive, growing city, easily reached by air from a number of US gateways. The Bow is a perfect destination for a long weekend getaway, with first-class fishing for the serious angler and plenty of attractions for nonfishing family members or friends.
RATES: Guided fishing is $300 US per day for 1 or 2 anglers. This includes transfers between hotel and river, skiff, guide and lunch. Hotel accommodations near the Bow run about $80 per night per room.