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The Bow River, Calgary Alberta

Bow River May FlyThe Rainbows and Brown trout reach 29 & 30 inches! Their average size is said to be ~19 inches, and their “Blue-Ribbon” distribution throughout the watershed is estimated at 3000 fish per mile!

Just doing a quick google image search for Bow River fly fishing will make anyone worth their trendiest over-priced Simms costume drool.

When I got the word on Friday that I needed to visit a customer in Calgary on Monday, I immediately began making all the necessary arrangements, plane tickets, hotel reservations, local fly shop driving directions, river reports, etc… though, not necessarily in that order.

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The Little Red Rental that could…

On the day before my return trip I finally had a few afternoon hours to tend to the important stuff. I started out by making the 10 minute drive from my hotel to the West Winds Fly Shop where I picked up a license, some flies, some local access info, and a really interesting conversation about fly fishing Cuba of all things (yet another fishery our neighbors to the north have over us).

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In another 10 minutes I was wadering-up on the banks of a very colored-up Bow River.

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I was a little shocked at just how off color the water was, but I was in Canada, on The Bow River, with a 5 weight in my hand. I was going to fish.

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It helped also that once I got down to the water I saw a number of others fly fishing as well.

I bob-icatored a disgustingly heavy rig through a few seams for about an hour or so without so much as a nudge.

Soon there was a pretty decent BWO hatch coming off that the birds wasted no time getting involved in. They’d fly up river a few hundred feet and then float down in the current picking the little mayflies off the surface as they drifted.

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The birds were all over it! But where were the “3000 fish per mile”? Another 30 minutes passed and the hatch was in full swing, where were the rises?

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How could they be ignoring all these tasty little morsels helplessly drifting overhead?

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But then again, how could they even see them with such limited visibilty?

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While taking a seat in the grass to contemplate this barrage of questions another fly fisher made his way from the parking lot and asked what they were taking (eh)? I humbly responded that I was probably the wrong person to be asking. After introducing myself as an out-of-towner he invited me to fish through his favorite stretch with him, commenting that he’d love to see me get into a fish (eh). I was relieved when he showed me his setup to find that it was the exact same as mine, right down to the same 2 flies.

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I followed him through his 100 yard stretch of some pretty sweet water, but neither of us touched a fish. I’d admitted to myself earlier that my trout game was about as rusty as it could get, without forgetting how to cast all together, but I didn’t feel too bad knowing that even the locals were having a tough time this afternoon.

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Bow River: 1
Doug: 0

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