Katie and I just got back from a great trip to the Bow River in Alberta, Canada. We took a group of 14 anglers to North Bow Lodge, which is located right on the Bow River about 45 minutes from the airport in Calgary. It was a great group of people. I had fished with most of them before and we made some great new friends, too.
The lodge is right on the river in a prime location. You can walk right out and fish a lot of water on foot right in front of the lodge. The lodge is located in the middle of one of the most popular floats on the river. Our group was guided for three days by the guides from Country Pleasures Fly Shop in Calgary. Most of us floated in drift boats, but two of the guides used jet boats on the lower end of the river. Katie and I fished with three different guides and got to experience three different sections of the river, from downtown Calgary all the way down past the lodge.
Our group persevered through some challenging weather. Fishing was great the first morning, but shut down in the afternoon as a storm rolled in. The next day we had about an inch of rain, which was enough to blow out certain sections of the river for part of the day. Conditions were the best on our last day. There was still a fair bit of color in the water, but the fish were feeding and most of the people in our group did well.
The Bow River is a big river like the Lower Sac and you can fish it many different ways. The great thing about it is that you can do very well on dry flies, hopper-dropper, and streamers. Our group did very little nymph and indicator fishing. Katie and I caught fish primarily on big grasshopper dries, but also had action on small dries, nymphs under dries, and on streamers. Our average fish was about 17". The biggest fish landed in our group was a 22" rainbow. Some in our group caught rainbows up to 21" on small dries! Bow River rainbows fight incredibly hard.
Another whole facet to our trip was seeing a river that had just been through a 100-year flood this spring. Calgary was in the news in June and July because of the extensive flooding on the Bow River. The Calgary Stampede was nearly cancelled. Needless to say, the river took a beating. We floated through town where the damage was the worst. The river shifted hundreds of yards in places, destroying parks and bike trails and footbridges over the river. On the lower river there are massive piles of sediment, many new channels, and many collapsing banks. It will take a few years for the river to get back into balance again. The fact that our group still hooked many 17-21" rainbows just two months after the flood is testament to the quality of the fishery. It will only get better over the next few seasons.
Many thanks to Stu & Michele at North Bow Lodge and to Mike Gifford at Country Pleasures Fly shop for helping us to put this trip together! The lodge was great, everyone enjoyed the food, and many in our group are already planning a return trip!