Pray For Rain Or Runoff
"You don't row, you go don't go!" - Ben mans the sticks for BRT guide Logan.
June has arrived, and usually this means high water. As you may have noticed, runoff has yet to appear in our neck of the woods. Streams and rivers throughout Southern and Central Alberta are unseasonably low, clear, and spooky. In addition to fish and wildlife, farmers and ranchers in our province are hurting for water to grow crops. However, it may not yet be cause for despair. As per a recent Calgary Herald article, the Eastern Slopes of our iconic Rocky Mountains are holding 20-40% more snowpack than average. A glance over the Bow Valley to the snow-covered front range seems to provide anecdotal confirmation. Colder than usual temperatures throughout May put spring behind schedule and has delayed snow melt in the mountains. Runoff may be late this year, but all indications are that it is coming.
Insect life has been abundant on the Bow but fishing has been a mixed bag. Ask six different anglers how the river is fishing, you will get six very different answers. Nights have been cold but water temperatures are actually warmer than usual due to the absence of snowmelt. Steady hatches of caddis and March Brown mayflies have yet to lure fish into sustained surface feeding routines. There are rising fish about though, and a lucky angler might have an epic dry fly afternoon. BWO's are still about as well. A few stonefly sightings.
An overcast day with a bit of heat is your ally if you wish to fish early season caddis. Whereas caddis in the summer tend to hide from the heat of the day under vegetation in riparian zones, spring caddis are happy to do all their errands mid-day. Remember that if rising fish are refusing your elk hair caddis, it might be time to try a tandem setup with a pupa/emerger pattern as the trailing fly. Try playing with floatant and sinking pastes to dial in the depth. Sometimes the action is just under the surface.
Rainbow trout have likely all concluded the annual spawn, and are now making the journey from tributaries back into the main stem of the Bow River. It seemed like brown trout were oddly hard to find during the rainbow spawn, but fly anglers have been seeing some very nice fish lately downstream of downtown.
Do you enjoy losing flies? Here's a great spot for that.
If you're fishing in the Foothills, be prepared to lay your line across the rocks to get a cast in without spooking trout. There's not much water in those creeks, and the fish are hyper-sensitive. If streamers are your thing, be prepared to lose a few to the logjams as that is where fish are stacked up at the moment. Evening is the time that larger fish will consider leaving the safety of the lumber.
How far back to the truck?
Be very aware that bears are active in the Foothills at this time of year. They are foraging early season plants at lower elevations and hunting calving ungulates. Expect to see tracks and scat along the banks. Carry bear spray, consider carrying bear bangers, make lots of noise (especially where running water masks other sounds), and be mindful about keeping attractants stored safely. Keep a leash at hand if you fish with a dog. Bears generally want nothing to do with you as they go about their business of the day.
Ongoing drainage pipe replacement work is still impacting the flow of the Elbow River downstream of Glenmore Reservoir. Flood mitigation construction is still ongoing from the Eau Claire area to Centre Street Bridge on the South bank of the Bow.
A friendly reminder:
- The mountain streams including the upper Oldman and Livingston Rivers are CLOSED to angling until June 16.
- The lower Oldman downstream of HWY 22 is OPEN as of April 1.
- ES2 rivers and streams are OPEN as of April 1.
- We do not sell fishing licenses. Alberta fishing licenses can be purchased online at www.albertarelm.com.