Tuesday, April 12, 2011


With the ice having cleared out of the lower bow in the last week, I had the itch to get some fishing in, and with my fishing gear in the truck, I headed southeast out of town with the lower Bow River my destination. Over the years the Bow has been my favorite river for all year round fishing. I don't believe that there is a day that goes by, that while driving past the Bow, I don't think about grabbing one of my flyrods and heading out to fish the river. The Bow offers all types of water, from long flats where Blue-winged Olive hatches occur in April and May, and again later in September and October. You can expect to see swarms of Caddis flies blanketing the top of the river in late May through to August. There are plenty of riffles and holes for nymph and streamer fishing. I nymph and streamer fish year round on the Bow with great success.

My favorite flyrod throws a 5 weight line, and is a great choice for nymph and all dry fly fishing, although rods for 6-7 weight lines are also a good choice. If you are limited to just one rod, then I suggest a 6 weight rod. A floating line is my favorite for nymphing, and a sinking tip weight forward is nice for streamer fishing. I have 3 sets of waders to choose from, depending on the season. They range from neoprene waders, that I mainly use going into winter and through to early spring, and use my lightweight breathables most of the rest of the year. I also have a set of ultralightweight waders that are left in my gear bag for those times that I thought waders would not be required, but find myself wishing that I had brought my waders. All 3 sets of waders are stocking foot waders and are used with felt soled boots, although, I prefer too use canvas running shoes with my ultralightweight waders, as they are easy to carry in my daypack. Lately, while fishing the streams along the eastern slopes of the Rockies, I enjoy wading wet, and by this I mean that I wear a pair of quick drying lightweight nylon pants along with sandals as footwear. It takes me just a few minutes to dry-out when not in the water.

Years ago, when I first took up flyfishing, I wore a vest to carry my fly-boxes, as well as spare spools, tippet material, tools and what not.. Down the road some years later, I realized that I was carrying way more gear than was necessary, and after re-assessing my fishing outfit, I now use a chestpack with a attached backpack module that also has a built in hydration system. If I wish to use a minimum of equipment, I can wear just the chestpack by itself, after removing the backpack module. When I plan on fishing a back-country stream, and will be out for the day, I attach the backpack module that allows me to carry a rain jacket, lunch, extra lens for my camera, bear spray, and whatever else that I will need for the day. Another important piece of gear, is a landing-net. I have lost more fish, while trying to land fish without a net and cannot stress enough how important a landing net is. A landing net also allows for fish to be released un-harmed. I own a number of landing-nets, and depending on the size of the water and the fish that I will hook-up, I will choose the correct sized one, that I will carry for the day while out on the river.

Once I arrived at one of my favorite park and walk sites, that is situated on the edge of the escarpment that overlooks the Bow, and I was rigged up, and with a final check made on my truck, I worked my way down the switch back trail that descends to the Bow. Of course, it goes without saying that I made numerous stops for photo-ops along the way. Downstream of Calgary the river valley is stunningly beautiful. The banks are lined with cottonwood and aspen trees, that rise to grass-covered breaks and sandstone out-croppings. Wildlife is in abundance, and you can spot mule deer, eagles, pelicans, great blue herons, and waterbirds, as well as shorebirds. Once I reached the river, and after checking on the conditions, I was set to go. I was using a 9 foot, 5 weight rod, rigged with a floating line, and a 9 foot leader with a strike indicator. I tied 24 inches of 4x tippet on to my leader, and then to a San Juan worm, with an extra 18" of 4x tippet tied to the hook on the San Juan and then to a stone fly nymph. I like using this setup, as I find that the browns I catch, tend to like the worms, and the rainbows like the stoneflys. The secret too fishing a nymph rig such as this, is all about getting the fly down to where the fish are holding. If your flies is not presented to the trout the way his food usually is, the trout will ignore your offerings. One of the problems that I see fly fishers make, is not getting their flies down on the bottom where the fish are. If necessary, add splitshot to your tippet, and once you feel your flies bumping along the bottom, you will catch trout.

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