Fishing Report - Early Spring

Back To Brown

Heavy March snowfall put some much needed water into the system as we move into shoulder season. ES2 season opener is underway. Swingin' flies under sunny skies is producing healthy, chromed-up spring trout.  

It may look like this outside for the next little while. Until we get another foot of snow this week, that is. Can you spot the last tiny patch?
March brought near-record snowfall to parched Southern Alberta, and while a few complaints were heard, even the whiniest fair-weather folk among us were begrudgingly acknowledging the need for precipitation. On the flip side, by now even many snow lovers & ice apologists are looking forward to a change from the endless dump-freeze-thaw-repeat cycles we've been through for the last 6 weeks. That's great, because now everyone gets to enjoy the infamous Calgary Brown Season. Unless of course, we're currently just experiencing Third or Fourth False Spring, which means at least another foot of snow is expected, this week but also likely on May Long Weekend, as is custom since many moons ago. Either way, the boost to water levels has been a positive development. 
He ate the whole Easter dinner.
 April 1st marks the date that every fly fishing industry Instagram account makes a corny April Fool's post, but far more importantly, it is the day that the Eastern Slopes 2 (ES2) fish management zone opens up to angling in Alberta. The waters found here hold some amazing fish and stunning scenery, with a great mix of spring creeks or freestone streams & rivers. Although angling pressure grows each year, ES2 is still a great place to go spend some time early season, often with fewer crowds than on the Bow. Nature doesn't read the regs though, so be prepared to show up for a day of fishing only to find your spot still frozen over - have a backup plan and manage your expectations. Be aware, ES2 has witnessed a number of fatal bear attacks on humans in recent years; pack the spray, know how to use it, have it accessible at all times, and keep your wits about you. 
Sideways sliders & 2-plankers are having a great spring snow season.
The Bow is flowing at between 30-45 cms, still well below average.
Some areas in the Rockies and foothills have fared better than others in terms of accumulating snowpack. Up at Skoki lodge near Lake Louise, snowpack is now into normal territory, as opposed to last year, during which snow water equivalent levels just barely made it into the lower quartile. Other monitoring stations to the south are reporting snowpack amounts more in line with what we saw last season. Ghost and Glenmore reservoirs are holding at 81% and 77% capacity, respectively. We will still happily take every drop of water that falls from the sky. 
On The Bow River 
  • It's just two short weeks until McKinnon Flats boat launch access gate opens for the season on April 15th.
  • Legacy Island is doable but is maybe better suited to raft access as there is still ice obstructing the takeout. Carseland is free of shelf ice, so go ahead and get a boat in there.
  • The upper sections of the river (Parkdale, Silver Springs, Bowness) are all good to go, and a little bird told us that browns are hungry & plentiful up there!
  • Visibility on the lower Bow fluctuates with the meltwater coming off, but has been around 2.5-3 feet as of Easter Monday.
  • The humble olive leech remains the big winner on the Bow. How many times do we have to tell you?!
  • Swinging flies has been producing both good numbers and good-sized fish. Try targeting slower, softer runs where fish may be stacked in.
  • Run anything from an intermediate to S4 tip with the two-hander in the walking-pace water. Light to moderate weight on your flies.
  • While not as prevalent on the Bow as some other waters, Skwala stones have been sighted and fish love 'em. Bring a few nymphs & dries if you're headed to ES2, the Crow, or especially down in Montucky, y'all hear?
  • Almost every afternoon will bring at least a few rises to midge on any given stretch of the Bow. Some of these fish are not small either! Run a double dry setup with a visible fly followed by a low-riding emerger for best results.
  • Stay tuned for the arrival of Blue Wing Olives as April continues. Keep a few Waterboatman patterns in the box as well, and when you do bust 'em out, don't be afraid to fish them on the swing.
  • Watch out for cobra chickens! Geese are mating and establishing ground nests. Watch out for eggs, & give geese a wide berth, because those sharp-tongued maniacs are meaner than your grade school lunch lady!
  • As always, report anyone you see keeping fish out of the Bow, and anywhere fish harvest is not allowed - Alberta Report A Poacher line 1-800-642-3800.
  • Don't know if it's legal to keep fish in a given body of water? That's on you, bud. It's your responsibility to know the regulations in the areas you fish. The Alberta government is late getting the '24 regs out, so use what's currently here online.
  • Make sure to purchase your 2024/'25 Alberta fishing license, as the season started on April 1st. You can do this online at

Flies For The Bow


Prince Nymph Jig TB, Peacock, #12-16

RIO's Morrish Dirty Bird, #14-16

Pat's Rubber Legs, Brown/Olive, #10-12

RIO's Morrish Pheasant Tail TB, #16

RIO's Waterboatman, Peacock, #14-16

Photo Roundup

K-Country glory.
All clear in the upper city section.
An angler shoots his shot on the Bow. Just you, & the other 15 guys around the corner, pal.
Spotted in the wild: A couple greasy jabronis getting after it.
Ticket to the rodeo.
A Tacospey kinda day.
Them boys sure do like those floater boats! Cam & Frank soaking up the day.
Moonlight muncher.
Fly-by stare down from the competition. 
This kyped up buck put a nice bend in the 11 footer. 
Francis found himself an early season scrapper ready to throw down.
Canada Post was closed for Easter, so Elliott mailed an express shipment via Microspey Air 2 Flight 2109 instead.
This cute hen couldn't resist the leech. Who could blame her?
Skwala sighting!
He just had tacos, but Barnsey still managed to make room for a lil' bean burrito.
Why bother with LinkedIn when you can just get linked up instead?
A perfect springtime chromer sitting pretty.
The WaderHater™ yearns for your Gore-Tex®. Go ahead, feed the beast.


  • Lloyd Bentley

    Really great report and sweet pics,see you outside dudes!

  • Lawrence Benson

    Beautiful shots! I hope to be back up there this summer drifting the Bow.

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