Water Report - Mountain Streams focus

Mountain Streams River Report - June 26th, 2019

As I parked the car at the side of the gravel road I immediately noticed a familiar sign for a potentially great day of fishing. Wild rose bushes in full bloom up and down the dense brush. Their bright pink plumes bringing-to-mind the promise of newly-hatched stoneflies. Approaching the water of the upper Oldman River, I was greeted with dozens of empty grey stonefly carapaces (shucks) on the rock faces of the cutbank. The high-country stonefly season has arrived. 

With several hatches going and many bugs on the water, I expected a very productive topwater day. However, it was the complete opposite. The arrival of a high pressure system in the morning meant not a single snout was seen all day. Instead the majority of fish were caught with a hopper-dropper-dropper, with 90% of takes on the bottom stonefly dropper. Three larger Cutthroats were forced to eat the Hopper-Stonefly creating exciting, unexpected, explosive eats. Seen on the water were Brown Drakes, large Stoneflies, freshly hatched Yellow Sally Stones, a few Caddis, and many small midges. 

If targeting Bull Trout, look to the fast rapids and deep white water plunge pools. Use Mountain White Fish or Cutthroat color patterned streamers, or bright flashy patterns. Fish slowly using the heavy streamers or large stonefly nymphs, allowing your fly to bounce off bottom in the white water. If looking for Rainbow or Cutthroat Trout, fishing bubble lines on seams with hopper droppers proved extremely productive. However, slow side channels and back eddys held many smaller feisty cutts. 

With mountain runoff continuing from the snow-pack, water levels remain high, and very cold. Areas to wade across are few and far between on the Oldman around highway 22, however, the higher you go, the lower the flow. Plan to stay on one bank, unless using a sturdy wading stick and waterproof pack. Clarity on the other hand is extremely high, with little-to-no muddying of the water save glacial till in the deepest pools and runs. 

Weather remains to be extremely unpredictable. Make sure to bring rain gear and extra insulating layers. A small tarp wouldn’t be a bad idea either as heavy squalls and thunder showers in the afternoon are not uncommon. Hope for the best and plan for the worst and you will have a fantastic day in Alberta’s high country. Goodluck, and tight lines!

 Flies to try

Dries: Franken’s Salmon (Size 4,) FatFrank (Size 8 or 10,) Yellow Stimulator (Size 8-14,) CDC Yellow Sally (Size 14,) Yellow Trude (Size 12-14,) and Extended Body Brown Drake (Size 10.)

Nymphs: Stoneflies (try the Smethhurst Stone Bomb) (size 8-12,) Red Copper John (Size 12-16,) Hare’s Ear (Size 12-16,) Evil Weevil Ice (Size 12-16.)

Streamers: Dolly Llama, Galloup’s Dungeon, Clouser Minnow, Galloup’s Boogieman, BeeBe’s Candy Man.

-Duncan Reed, Fish Tales Fly Shop

The Bow River

With the recent high & dirty water the Bow is getting a bit of a break from anglers. A few guides from the shop have been out the last couple of days for exploratory floats and things are beginning to settle down. 

The Elbow river is causing most of the coloration in the river at this point but it is now dropping and slowly starting to clear. Bow River clarity is at about 6 inches but with some nice weather it is expected to continue to improve in the next few days.
The best methods for fishing in the dirty water would be larger nymphs (stoneflies, worms, and leaches) and dark colored streamers like black dungeons or Bow River Buggers with a sink tip to get the fly deeper to where the fish are.    
On Friday evening the Province lifted the high water advisory which means the boat launch at Fish Creek Provincial Park is once again open to use. The newly-accessible launch-site at St. Patrick's Island (essentially the zoo), has allowed some opportunity for floating the river above the Elbow. Reports are trickling in about that section of the Bow and we expect folks will continue to explore and learn this section. The boat launch takes some navigation and above average trailer backing up skills!
As the river continues clearing and dropping we expect things to pickup and (much as Duncan referenced above) have already noticed the Provincial flower (the wildrose) in full bloom along the banks. That's a pretty good sign that stonefly season is almost here. Terry saw a whopping 3 shucks yesterday!
We are planning to resume some guided trips this coming week and will provide an update once we've had clients back on the Bow. 
In the meantime here are some suggestions on flies to try:
Streamers: Coffey Sparkle Minnow, Black and white clousers, black or olive Galloup's Dungeons, Kreelex minnows
Nymphs: Stonefly nymph patterns like the Smethurst Stone Bomb, Rubber leg squirrel, Gummy Stone, prince nymphs, san juan worms, leech patterns. 
Dries: (there's always hope) caddis - brown or olive in size 14,16; stonefly dries like the True Goldenstone, Bitch Creek, Willie's Ant. 
Happy Fishing!
Fish Tales Fly Shop 
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