What to Expect
The Blue Ribbon portion of the lower Bow River, that extends from Calgary to Carseland, is home to roughly 50 miles of world class trout fishing. There, you will find a healthy population of wild Rainbow trout and wild Brown trout. The average size of fish caught are 18 inches with fish 20 – 24 inches routinely caught. It is not unusual to catch trout that measure 24” plus.
Having said that, the angler’s skill level is a big driver when it comes to catching fish. With more skill, you better the odds of doing the appropriate thing when trying to fool a fish into playing with you. The most productive, in terms of catching fish, is to “nymph” fish. Not only are fish “nymphing” with more consistency but it places most of the variables of “fishing” into the guide’s control. The guide is more able to influence drift, fly placement and course; whereby the guide can have more control and influence things to the angler’s benefit.
Streamer Fishing and Dry Fly Fishing inherently requires the angler to have more control of the “fishing”. The guide can put the angler into the best position of influence, but the angler has to get it done. This is where skill level drives productivity in the equation. Typically, but still dependent on conditions, larger fish are caught with either dry flies or streamers.
A combination of your expectation and skill level should help you determine which style you would like to fish. As a blanket statement, you will catch more fish “nymphing” but (on average) they will be smaller. Streamer and Dry Fly fishing will give you a more intimate experience, typically yield bigger fish but less of them. The latter styles also require a more evolved skill level.
We do not advocate the use of jet boats on the “Blue Ribbon” stretch of the Bow River. We do not guide out of jet boats, nor do we use jet boats on the Blue Ribbon stretch of the Bow River in a personal capacity. We do not use, or employ guides whom use jet boats, in any capacity, on this stretch of the Bow River.
Jet boats are not fair chase. Moreover, they degrade banks, create noise and environmental pollution, and generally diminish the river experience for others.
Although it is legal to use jet boats on this stretch of river, we feel that it’s in direct contradiction to being a steward of the river and the resource we hold dear.
Trout Farmer prides itself on a more boutique experience – we are not tied to a fly shop and able to be more fluid in our pick-up and drop-off times. We tailor our days with both the angler’s needs and when to best take advantage of fishing conditions. Typically, our float times run 8 – 10 hours.
Rods designed for big Western trout rivers are what are used on the Bow River. Nine foot rods, in both 5 and 6 weight configurations, will be your most versatile “sticks”. For Dry Fly Fishing out of the boat, an 8’ 6” rod, or shorter, will allow you to be more accurate. Streamer Fishing with sink tip lines requires a more stout rod, be it a #6 or a #7.
Having said that, we don’t force you to use the above configurations – fish what you like to fish! All of our guides have an extensive quiver of rods, reels and lines in their boats which you are welcome to use – it’s a good opportunity to try rods and actions you might not have had the ability to fish with before. If you don’t have a specific rod, don’t sweat it, we have enough gear to complement anything you might encounter on the water.
Here’s What I Use
9’ – 7 weight Fast Action. Streamer rod when fishing with sink tip lines.
9’ – 7 weight Progressive Action. Streamer rod when fishing dry lines.
9’ – 6 weight Fast Action. Dry Fly rod from the boat, windy days. Hopper / Dropper. Nymph fishing with external weight.
9’ – 6 weight Progressive Action. Hopper or Stonefly rod with no dropper.
8’ – 5 weight Fibreglass. Dry Fly Fishing out of the boat.
The Gear YOU NEED to Bring
The most important thing to bring are your sunglasses. Arguably, they are the most important piece of kit to the angler. You need them because they keep your eyes SAFE. People get whacked in the face on occasion, and a barrier between your eyes and little hooked projectiles moving in excess of 100 mph, is a NECESSITY. Polarized sunglasses will allow the angler to see structure and the nuances of what is happening sub-surface. They allow the angler to see what the guide sees, so the angler can target with more accuracy.
Bring clothing specific for the weather conditions of the day. There is dry storage on the boats where you can stow the articles you bring with you. Weather in the Alberta foothills can be very unpredictable. Bring a sweater, rain jacket, hat and a long sleeved shirt. Sunscreen. Bug dope, if that’s your thing.
Tipping your Guide
It is customary to tip your guide, however, this is at the client’s discretion. We generally recommend that a good reference point in which to start is $100.00 per day/ per boat. It is best that you tip the guide directly in cash, and not with a credit card when you pay for the trip.
Alberta Fishing Licenses
Angling Licenses can be purchased online prior to your trip using this link: Alberta RELM
You will need a Wildlife Identification Number (WIN card) to access all the functions of this site. You can obtain a WIN card at the same link.
What Flies to Bring
Feel free to bring all your own Trout flies. Having said that, all of our guides have their own specific patterns in which they have history and are confident in. We provide all the flies for the day, but if you have a specific pattern or personal tie that you want to fish, bring it along!
If you would like a list of specific patterns suited for your trip, congruent with time of the year of your booking, it’s best to contact us directly via email or phone. Fly patterns are a moving target and change with frequency, enough that it is inefficient to list them on our site.
We typically wade wet throughout the summer (July – September), meaning, we wade in a pair of shorts. You will not be spending a bunch of time IN the river when you float the Bow. When we stop to fish specific zones, you are more than likely to be on the bank or in water that is no deeper than your mid-thigh. Water temperatures are moderate, typically above 15 ºC (60 ºF), depending on the time of year. You will be more comfortable throughout the day not wearing waders. Once again, this is your trip and if you prefer waders, wear your waders!
Start and End Times
Flexibility is what drives our ability to start and end the day to best serve the fishing conditions and your needs and desires. Routinely, a guided trip starts in the morning, and ends in the early evening. Having said that, there are times of the year whereby the fishing conditions are better maximized during “off” hours. We do this all the time. Best to discuss this with us prior to your trip. The more flexible you are, the more we have the ability to move on/off times to better take advantage of fishing conditions; putting the angler in the best position of influence.