Tips & Tricks

Bow River, Alberta, Canada

Sabrina Barnes July 05, 2016

Learning a second language is one of the greatest things I have accomplished in the last few years. Where I am from, the French population have been defending their culture and identity in our bilingual country, Canada. Quebec is a beautiful Province, but I knew I had to discover more about my Country.

As a fly angler full of dreams, I decided, in 2014, that my Summer was the right time for me to fulfill one of my big ambitions. With help, I found a job in the fly fishing industry at Iron Bow Fly shop, located in Calgary, Alberta.

Improving my English was truly enriching, but I have to admit that the fishing there was the most incredible experience of my life. For the first time of my life, I was on my own in an unfamiliar place. It was a total adventure. One of the first things I discovered, was that in less than a two hours drive, I could be fishing for brown trout in a Spring Creek, for Cutthroat in the Rockies, or for rainbows in the Bow River. Three different species in three different places using three different techniques, but a consistent feeling when you finally hook a fish and enjoy the fight surrounded by the wilderness of the West.

The closest place I could be fishing from my job, was in the Bow River, for Rainbows. The most popular set up is the famous Prince nymph size 14, followed by a San Juan Worm dropper, under an indicator. It works, but the most exciting way to fish on the Bow is during the Trico spinner falls. The Tricorythodes mayflies hatch from mid-July through some portion of September. During a good morning without high winds, those small flies (from 3 to 7 millimeters) are present in millions around us, turning the sky to a black cloud. When the morning air temperature reaches 68 degrees or so ( 20 Celcius) , they will all die and turn your morning to dry fly fishing at is best ! The right fly to have at this particular moment has a black body with flat white wings in sizes 20 to 26 a Trico Spinner. Attach to a leader at least twelve feet finishing with a 4X or finer, you are now all set ! It’s time to look in the slow, slack water of the river to find feeding fish.

The fishing that was the most challenging for me was definitely in Springcreek. I couldn’t believe that there are 24 inch plus Brown Trout in Canada, but I have seen that myself not far from Calgary. In those places, your cast is always a challenge when you have to cast an inch from the bank with all the willows in your back-cast. But there is nothing more gratifying than when you improvise to present your fly, whatever how your cast looks like, to put the Hopper right on the seam, where the big fish that you had found come to eat your fly ! It’s there that you realize that being cautious, accurate, and creative and fish with long leaders of twelve feet or more become so important.

During that summer, I have also discovered a new species, the Cutthroat. During the sunny and warm days, the best place to be was in the Rocky Mountains, fishing for those Trout. The high temperature helps the cold water from the mountain to reach the perfect temperature for active fish. I had days where I walked upstream in the river with my wet wading sock on and every pool was holding a fish ready to jump on my dry fly. Plus, the fish are so gorgeous, with the orange slash under their jaw and the pink color on their sides.

I have discovered the culture of the Wild West with the ranches, but also a lot of different methods of Fly fishing. For example, fishing for Trout from a drift boat in a river such as the Bow is unknown in Québec. To go down the river, we usually use a canoe. We also have distinct species that give us different ways to fish. Fishing for Cutthroat and Bull Trout is a different world from Atlantic Salmon. I came back enriched from this experience and I hope everyone has a chance to experience something similar in their lives !