Oh how the rivers have changed in a short period of time! An update on the state of our southern Alberta rivers.
Runoff is now long gone! We would happily take some of those early July rainstorms again, but that doesn't appear to be in the cards. Flow rates have dropped dramatically and the river we are fishing now is very different than even less than 10 days ago. You can see the flow forecast reports on Bow River Trout Foundation's site . Everyone do your best rain dance for all of southern Alberta as we badly need it.
Fishing has slowed substantially from the early July craziness - with the increased visibility, lower flow rates, and most importantly higher river temperatures for longer periods of the day, the fish just aren't as happy as they were. The good news is if you like hopper fishing or some technical dry fly situations (Trico's in their full tiny glory) has been very entertaining. You just won't catch "numbers" of fish with these methods but that's OK because the eats more than make up for it!
Hopper/dropper continues to be the most productive method but the droppers are changing from leaches/stones to smaller (#14-#18)droppers. So far the fish have continued to be very happy and strong in the mornings thanks to lower over night air temps, but are starting to be more lethargic in the afternoons. Try and finish your fishing by between 2-3pm and use the heaviest tippet you can get through the eye of the fly. You most likely have heard of the the "Hoot Owl" restrictions in the US trout states and very recently in the Kootenay Region of BC. If Alberta had a similar policy the Bow would be under those restrictions now. A thermometer (like this Digital Thermometer) is extremely valuable when water temps are a concern. We are starting to see Bow River water temps (in the Legacy to Carseland section) of 70-72F (21C) on a regular basis in the late-afternoon so please reconsider fishing when the temperatures are in that range. In the mornings on the upper sections (Glenmore to Police) we are seeing 62-63F and getting up to 68-69F at the end of the day. By the end of this week those will most likely be a couple of degrees warmer. As we progress into August and if a scenario of hotter weather moves in be prepared for the province to start discussions about stream closures similar to what happened in 2015 when multiple watersheds were closed due to similar conditions. See this Calgary Hearld Article about the 2015 closures for a reminder.
Flies to try:
Nymphs: beadhead prince, copper John (Red, Copper, Gold), Mic Drop jig, Sasis' Solution, and lightning bugs.
Dries: CDC & Elk or Swisher's Dancing Caddis, #18 to 20 Trico, and #8-#10 of your favourite hopper pattern (Fat Frank, More or Less, Juicy, Yeti). Watching that snout and slow casual eat is as visual and exciting as it gets. Just be patient with working the water and when the fish eats and you will be rewarded.
Streamers: Black and White clousers, skiddish smolt, Kreelex minnows, and other sleeker minnow patterns as the fish can easily see them now.
Eastern Slopes Open but use caution with temperatures.
The vast majority of mountain and foothill streams in Southern Alberta are below historical flow averages. The higher mountain stream temperatures have been OK so far but again use your thermometer to check as the day progresses. Cutthroat and Bull Trout have a lower warm water temperature tolerance than our Bow River rainbows and browns.
Please use respect and if you are finding water temps in the mountain streams (16-17C 61F to 63F) please consider limiting your fishing or fishing only in the mornings.
****A WATER ADVISORY FOR ALL OF THE
EASTERN SLOPES CONTINUES.****
Flies to try (mountain streams):
Nymphs: Copper johns, prince nymph, lightning bugs, tung stud, and small stones, and better-than-sex drake.
Dries: Parachute adams, trigger belly stone, Parachute Green Drake, Green Drake Wulff, Purple Haze, H&L Variant, Micro Frank and micro chubbies.
Streamers: take your pick - depending on what you're going to target. Pink gartsides or buggers, white Clark's rat or Dungeon, Kreelex Minnow silver/black, or copper/gold.
A shout out to Nancy who caught the Bow River fish of a lifetime on July 16th with guide Terry Johnson and husband/photograph documenter David. An incredibly beautiful brown trout of 27" and 8 lbs. It was a stunner. I am so glad I was there to see it. David