Seasons of the Bow
Late Winter Into Early Spring Fishing
Hatches: Midges, Winter Stones, Blue Winged Olives (BWOs), March Brown Mayflies, Mothers Day Caddis,
Dry Flies: Griffiths Gnat #16 down to #20s, and BWO dry patterns, March Browns #14-#16 when hatching, Tan Caddis Patterns #14 to #18
Nymphs: San Juan Worm patterns (chenille, wire, v-rib) #4- down to #10, Prince Nymphs #10 down to #18, Hare's Ear Nymph #10 down to #18, Red Devils #14 down to #18, Red and/or Black Chrinomids #14 to #20, Rubber Legged Squirrel Tail Nymph #6 to #10,
Streamers: Small Wooly Buggers in a variety of colours such as Maroon, Black, Brown and White #6 to #10; Clouser Minnows #2 to #8, Sculpin patterns in Tan or Green #4 to #8
Late March and Into April - is early season for the Bow. Many fish are still in the deep waters of the wintering holes, however they will start moving into the shallower waters to feed. There can be excellent fishing as the bugs start getting more active with warmer weather, but as the weather can change quickly, so can the fishing.
The Rainbow Trout will tend to feed aggressively at this time of year, after getting through a typical Alberta winter and then to bulk up for the spawn.
It is always with high hopes that the weather holds for the Mother's Day Caddis Hatch. We have had some great years with a lot of trout looking up to eat Caddis and other years where the weather didn't cooperate and the caddis.
Late Spring Into Early Summer Fishing
Hatches: Midges, Blue Winged Olives (BWOs), Caddis, Pale Morning Duns (PMD), Golden Stoneflies. The worm hatch in the City
Dry Flies: Caddis patterns- Tan, Green and Brown Bodies in #12 to #18s; Golden Stone patterns such as a Skid Bitch, Chubby Chernobyl, Barretts Golden Stone, Stimulator, #6 to #10, Pale Morning Dun and Pale Evening Dun #12 to #16
Nymphs: Kaufmanns Golden Stonefly #6 to #10, Jimmy Legs #4 to #8, Stoned Prince #6 to #10; Neo Twenty Incher #6 to #10, San Juan Worm #4 to #12, Black Copper John #12 to #18,
Streamers: anything dark for the off colour water. This time of year the water is flowing fast and the water clarity is poor. We like to use the articulated streamers at this time of year. Galloups Dungeon, the Swimmy Jimmy, Circus Peanut in #2 to #6. As the water recedes and clears, you will want to switch to the more natural, earthy tones such as greens, tans and into the browns. Bow River Buggers and Clousers will work great as well
Late April-June- With June being the month with the highest precipitation levels and is our typical time of year where the Bow River experiences run-off. The Bow will steadily rise through mid-June and typically get very dirty with the runoff from the mountains and the rain washing the mud into the river.
Generally, as the water rises the fishing slows down however once water levels reach their peak and stabilize) there can be some of the best streamer fishing of the season. It is a good idea to fish high water conditions; the catch rate can be significantly less than other times of year, but the potential of catching that one trout of a lifetime keeps a lot of anglers heading back to the river at this time of year. Besides what else is there to do? Golf?
Post Run-off Fishing(Late June-Early July)- As the water starts to recede and loses its turbidity, except for the odd thunder shower which can affect the water clarity for a short period of time. There is good activity throughout the day from the early morning to late into the evening with the variety of insects hatching. The spawning rainbows have typically made their way back into the Bow from the Highwood with the high-water of June and start feeding aggressively to recover from spawning.
Going into July, we have potential of experiencing large Golden Stonefly hatches along with some very strong Caddis hatches in the evening. We will fish a lot of hopper dropper rigs throughout the day at this time and then stalk the rising fish in the evening. This is a time of year that the avid fly fisher wont want to miss, the Calgary Stampede and Exhibition runs around the same. Sort of a Cowboy Mardi Gras, lots of activities for the family while you fish.
Mid Summer to Early Fall Fishing
Hatches: Caddis, Trico's, Hoppers, Crane Flies, Mahogany's
Dry Flies: Caddis patterns in #14-18, Hoppers such as Charlie Boy, Popper Hoppers, Dave's Hopper, Southern Alberta Hopper in #4 to #10, Tricos in #18-22, Wulff Patterns, Comparaduns, Spinners
Nymphs: Prince Nymph #16 to #18, Pheasant Tail #14 to #18, Copper John (Black, Green or Copper) size #12 to #18, Theo's Pheasant Tail #14 to #18, Eevil Weevils #12 to #18. Olive Wooly Bugger #8 to #10 (deaddrifted to simulate Cranefly larvae)
Streamers: Clouser Minnows #4 to #8, Olive Wooly Buggers #6 to #10, Slump Busters (Black, Olive or Tan) #6 to #8, Sluddlers #6 to #8, Double Bunny #2 to #6
August to September Fishing- The river drops substantially and is typically quite clear with typically our hottest days of the year. Keep in mind to monitor the water temperatures. The River appears to drop rapidly and warms up quickly. Sometimes this can be a frustrating to nymph the river as the weeds grow quickly. It can be worthwhile to get a very early start on the river when the water is at its coolest temperature.
Grasshoppers start showing up shortly after the Golden Stoneflies; although not a water born insect; hoppers will find themselves blown into the river. Good news for both the fish and the angler; we can continue with our hopper/dropper set ups throughout the day and back onto the stalking rising trout in the evening.
Some days you will have to fish the middle of the river with getting your nymphs deep to find the larger fish during the middle of day. At times we may pull over into the shade to get a break from the hot sun and wait in anticipation for the rising fish in the evening.
Trico's hatch in large numbers on the Bow River, with the river appearing to be on fire with the thick clouds of Trico's resembling smoke.
Hatches: Trico's, BWO's, October Caddis, Hoppers, Ants, Water Boatman, Backswimmers, Midges.
Fall Fly Patterns
Dry Flies: Tan, Yellow or Light Green bodied Hoppers in #6 to #10 Foam Ant Patterns, both black abdomen and red abdomen #10 to #14, Later in the Fall, Orange or Chocolate Stimulators #8 to #12, Trico's #16 to #22, Orange Double Humpy's #8 to #12.
Nymphs: Small bead head nymphs from a #14 to #18, at this time of year, we prefer to use nymphs with Tungsten beads as they sink quicker (denser, heavier than conventional brassbeads), for backswimmers, your traditional Prince Nymph pattern performs really well although, Chocolate Prince Nymph, Eevil Weevil #12 to #18, Foam Water Boatmen fished with a sink tip #10 to #14,
Streamers: Swimmy Jimmy #2 to #6, White Sex Dungeon's #2 to #6, Buggers in Black, White, Olive or Brown #2 to #10 (can be stripped or dead drifted), Clouser Minnow #2 to #8, Slump Busters #6 to #8.
September to October Fishing - The Hopper dropper set up will continue to produce well into the Fall, will have to look at changing the fishing tactics once the first heavy frost comes. The hatches will slowly switch over the BWO's as the temperature drops, although this is some of the best times to get into the pods of rising fish.
Streamer fishing is very exciting this time of year, with the water being so low and gin clear, you can witness the followers and the strike on your streamer.
Backswimmers will be more active in the water with the lower water temperatures. Fish will hit the Backswimmers hard. We have had great success to putting Backswimmer patterns under a hopper or even tying two backswimmers in tandem with some small split shot and fishing the set up like a streamer rig. Casting towards the bank and stripping the backswimmers with short, fast strips to swinging the flies from the shallower fast water into the slower deeper pools.
Fish will continue to feed aggressively, the Rainbows are looking to fatten up for the winter months and the Brown Trout will be preparing for their spawn.
Fishing will start to slow down near the end of October, depending upon the weather conditions. Guides are usually ready to hang up their waders by that time of year after a good long season of hard work.
October Fishing And On - Time to go chase Steelhead or start the planning of a Tropical Destination to escape the reality of Winter.