The newest addition to the BRT staff, Cam W. with a nice one. He has since gotten a haircut.
Summer is in full swing down here in Southern Alberta, and what a picture perfect summer it has been. After the heavy rains of June we’ve been treated to hot weather with lots of water in the system and big thunderheads rolling in to cool things down like bouncers at Stampede, giving the plants a drink right on cue. Nighttime temperatures are significantly lower than last summer, giving fish a break. In these times of either fire or flood years, Albertans have lucked out and seemingly gotten just what we needed. Even the skeeters have calmed down slightly after the bloodbath in July.
The reservoirs are near capacity and TransAlta has been keeping Bow River flow very stable making conditions favorable for insects and fish. While it’s down from around 200+ cms during most of July, there’s still more water in the river than on average for this time of year. The fishing is stellar. We’re lucky to live by the Bow River, one of the best trout waters in the world. Calgarians are sure enjoying the weather, taking to the water in hordes and on any watercraft that is semi-legal. The Bow in town has morphed into a floating inflatable circus featuring giant flamingos, unicorns, roving SUP gangs, and no shortage of Bluetooth speakers.
This puddle is full.
Rainbow trout seemed to be all we were catching during spring, but this summer it’s all about the spots. Chunky browns have been strutting their stuff on the catwalk and showing off their curves for appreciative audiences lapping it up on boats, banks, and Instagram. Some anglers, including even the author lucked out with a hole-in-one (first cast) on the Bow this week. Minimize handling time and be conscious of water temperature as it is getting warmer. Stop fishing at 20 Celsius. A stream thermometer should be an essential piece of your summer fishing kit, like sunscreen or floater juice. Now is the time to put waders away and get wet. Quick dry pants or shorts and closed-toed shoes with good grip and drainage is all you really need to wet wade. Bring a warm upper layer, especially if you are heading to the mountains. We all love gear and using our gear but it’s nice to simplify things once in a while, go lightweight, and remember that it’s called a pool for a reason.
After a slow and very watery start to the season, the mountain systems have shaped up and are also in fine form. Big, healthy cutthroats are binge eating foam flies, hackled flies, deer hair flies, any flies. If it floats and has a (barbless) hook on it, you’ve got a shot. These are delicate trout, so bring a net with a rubber bag to land them and try not to set the hook like it’s a Mako. It’s good to practice respectful etiquette when you inevitably encounter other fishers out there. If you fish past someone who is slower than you, the best practice is to leave a couple pools ahead unfished for that angler, as you rush off in your compression tights to get that monster bull who taunts you in your unair-conditioned fever dreams.
Some anglers never left the lakes after runoff and the lake fishing is excellent as well, whether high above the treeline or in flatter places. Tiger trout have been more popular as a species for stocking in Alberta in recent years, and there are some interesting opportunities around the province to catch these hatchery reared Brook and Brown trout hybrids. They’re known for being hangry, diving when hooked, and yanking hard on a fly rod. They don’t truly compare to a wild trout in our eyes, but it’s good fun and a great species to fish for with kids.
Misty morning hop on the Bow.
- Stoneflies are still on the menu. Golden stones have not quit and can be found in nymph and adult stages along the banks.
- Hopper season is not far away. South of Calgary, the grasshopper is already producing reliable eats from big trout. Try it now and consider going small, moving to larger sizes as the season progresses.
- Flying ants have made a quiet appearance on the Bow. Last year the ant hatch was significant, we’ll see if that is the case again. The humble ant is not a pattern to be without when fishing the mountain streams or lakes. Try a drowned ant dropper just under the surface.
- Caddisflies are hatching like how the trains run in Germany. On time, every day, day after day. Head down to the water with your flypole at golden hour and throw in a caddis team consisting of a dry and an emerger, pupa, or nymph pattern about 24” apart.
- The streamer hatch is always on, and fish have been receptive to classic leech patterns like buggers or squirrel leeches. Sizes 6-12. It’s fun to fish them on the swing with a sink tip.
Flexi Girdle Bug, Brown/Olive #6-10
Epoxyback PMD #14-16
Galloup's Shop Dip, Green #12-14
Zug Bug #12-14
Howell's Memory Maker, Peacock #14
CH Bow River Bugger, Olive #6
Peacock Bugger #8-10
Rickard's BH Seal Bugger, Burnt Orange #6-8
Dolly Llama, White #2
Lady Caroline, Cascade #7
Arrick's Parachute Ant, Cinnamon #14-18
Galloup's Ant Acid, Black/Red #14
Peacock Caddis #14
City Worker, Copper #8-10
Hi-Vis Parachute PMD #12-14