The Bow is high and dirty. This is a good thing and quite normal for this time of year. Admittedly it’s a little earlier than historically, but high water is an important part of our season. It helps flush the river from weed growth, moves debris, and triggers conditions for bugs to hatch.
Since the flood in 2013 the provincial government and TransAlta have implemented a multi-year agreement during highwater season that allows the government “to modify operations at Ghost Reservoir for flood mitigation purposes from May 16 to July 7 each year.” So…. if you look at current water levels at Ghost Reservoir you will see it is VERY low. This is to allow it to fill back up in case of a rain event coupled with large snow melt. This is why we are seeing higher water earlier and likely for longer.
Currently, there is a high-stream flow advisory for the Bow above Cochrane and the city of Calgary is advising Calgarians against boating and other watercraft activities. If you do head out please be cautious. Higher flow levels can erode banks and make the river’s edge unstable. There is also significant in-stream debris including large logs and trees.
That said, the river can still fish well during higher water. Now is the time the fish will find calmer areas like side channels, back bays, river edges. Streamers and nymphs are still likely to be the order of the day but keep an eye out for rising fish tight to the bank as the water level evens out and water clarity improves.
Flies to try:
Dries: Caddis imitations if you see rising fish. Swisher’s Dancing Caddis, CDC elk hair caddis, Bloom’s para-caddis.
As the water level drops (and wildroses start to be more prolific) watch for stoneflies. If you start to see stonefly nymphs be prepared with some of the dries. Skid bitches, stimulators, Willie’s Ants, Swisher’s LLS Chernobyl’s. Choose patterns you can see…. and remember to wait ’til their mouths close to set the hook.
Nymphs: Don’t head to the Bow without them…. In particular San Juan Worms. We have them in wire, chenille, and gummy options; beaded and non-beaded; with or without a hot spot. Stonefly nymphs are a great option for this time of year including chenille stones, Smethurst’s Stonebomb, rubber leg squirrel. Other standby favorites for the river include: Prince nymphs, evil weevils, hare’s ears, pheasant tails, LEECH pattens.
Streamers: big and ugly may be the order of the day during dirty water. Swisher’s dungeons in black or olive, skiddish smolts, Catch’s 4 x 4, muddy buddy’s, black and white clousers.
Now is a great time to explore stillwater opportunities across the province. Community lakes have been fishing well and pike fishing on area reservoirs is in full swing.
We have a large selection of stillwater flies for trout and a couple drawers full of pike flies worth checking out.