Southern Alberta Hatch Charts
Below are hatch charts for the Red Deer, Bow, and Old Man river. These charts are a rough guideline for what insect hatches to expect in these three river systems, but as we know, nothing is certain when it comes to a day on the river. Hopefully this general guideline will be able to provide you with the information to properly prepare your fly arsenal for your trip. We have added an impact /5 section to the charts as you can see below. This is our subjective measure of the general importance of these hatches to the fish. A 1/5 means that the hatch exists but it doesn't usually get the fish going is a serious way, a 5/5 means that we can depend on catching fish on this particular hatch every year without fail.
In addition to our traditional insect hatches, it’s important to consider the streamer ‘hatches’ that we get on our streams. There are of course days on any of our rivers where no matter what our hatch charts say, there will not be insects emerging or fish moving for them. When this happens it’s easy to switch over to a worm and leech suspended under a bobber, but there’s also the more engaging option of stripping streamers. Although it’s reasonable to fish any size or colour of streamer on any of our streams on any given day, there are a few tips to consider when streamer fishing.
First, is to fish with confidence. No matter what you’re fishing, fish that fly like you mean it the whole time you’re fishing it. It’s easy to get complacent and lazy when you’ve been fishing streamers all day, but moving your bugs the right way and getting them into the right places really makes a difference. I have had plenty of experiences where I’ve missed opportunities at big fish while I’m chatting with my buddies in the boat, or my head is in another place while I’m fishing streamers. If you’re going to do it, fish like you mean it and have confidence in the fly and water you’re fishing. Half-assing it doesn’t make the cut when you want to target big trout on streamers.
Big fly, big fish
Next, be prepared to switch it up (but maintain your confidence.) Test out different colours, sizes, retrieves, etc. Varying one’s retrieve is probably the easiest way to determine if the fish are looking for something different than you are giving them because you can switch it up with each cast. This includes not only changing your retrieve speed, but also depth and whether you’re moving flies upstream versus downstream. In general, we find that big streamers can catch fish on any given day, but after run-off when the water starts clearing up, we do tend to get more fish on smaller baitfish-like streamers, leeches and even nymphs fished on a retrieve. Another general rule to consider is that bright flashy flies fish best on bright days and dull, natural flies fish best on dull overcast days. That being said, there are very few, if any solid rules in streamer fishing and the best way to get fish while doing it is to get out there fish and build up your confidence.
Some examples of smaller, yet very effective late-summer streamers.
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