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What Am I Doing Wrong.


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I'm new to Calgary but not new to fly fishing. I have fly fished all over Canada and have done so for over 15 years. I have spent the last two weeks around 60 hours in the water around and in Calgary, Kananaskis, and Banff, I have had very little luck only 3 trout. Its been one of the worst fishing period in my life. Is there a trick in Alberta, some type of trout secret or is the flood to blame. I was excited to move here for the fishing but so far its been the worst province to fish in, but the most beautiful. I must be doing something wrong. I'm not looking for spots or rivers. Just wondering what's going on in the rivers or am I just having really bad luck.

 

I will keep at it, I will find The Spot of Dreams this province is known for.

 

Thanks.

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I've also fly fished across Canada and have found this to have great waters but like all locals you do need to get to know the waters. The Bow for example has always been considered a mid to expert water, thus the original Blue ribbon description. We have an abundance of streams here with some wonderful opportunities. Yes the flood has affected some areas but the waters and settling down and hatches are late.

 

My suggestion would be to read this forum; it has a wealth of information. Hire a guide to fast track you, it can pay off in spades; hook up with other like people for time on the water. And of course spend the time on the water. The trout are there, you just need to figure out how to talk to them.

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My first full year around Calgary fly fishing had a lot of skunks. Now that I am through that first everthing is starting to come together. I don't catch nearly as many fish as some on here, but everytime I head out now I can usually muster up a couple. Time, patience, and a lot of exploring is what helped me. Still have a ways to go, but the fish are their. The frustrating time will pay off, stick with it. Hopefully see you on the water one day.

 

Cheers,

Millar

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It's been a really tough year in the flowing water around here. If you have been fishing flowing water in Kananaskis, particularly the K river, it is fairly barren (or if it isn't, it has me utterly fooled). I haven't fished much up around Banff so don't know how the flood affected the fishing there, but if it's like anywhere else it certainly had an impact. The Bow has been much, much, much tougher than usual post flood for me at least, particularly on bigger fish. No idea if it is lack of fish or total change in behavior, but they have me fooled.

 

So be comforted in the fact you have a lot of company this year. And also that it is sure to get better as everything starts to recover and you start to figure out what works, and what doesn't. But I don't think the rivers here require different significantly different tactics than trout rivers anywhere else in the west.

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I am certainly not the pro like some of these people, but I am a scientist. I have put in my time on the Bow.

 

I took a fly fishing course. One of the things that was explicitly taught for the area---if you are not catching fish, try a smaller hook.

 

I will use a size 8-10 stonefly or size 8-12 San Juan worm as the top hook in a 2 fly indicator rig, but I otherwise only use size 14 or smaller, usually a size 16 or 18 (in summer, 80% size 16, in winter 80% size 18). I have had a couple of stellar days on the Bow with size 16/18 dries. Copper johns are an good-all around dropper.

 

At least for the Bow, flexibility is important. In the summer, I will almost always use 2 different techniques (nymphs and dries, or streamers and dries).

 

If you are going out on your own, I would expect to be skunked the first 3 times out on the Bow. Summer afternoons are the worst time to fish the Bow---full indicator rigs and sink tip streamers. Drizzly, calm, cloudy September days almost always produce on all techniques. Warm, calm fall evenings will produce on teeny dries.

 

Like everybody has said though, the Bow is not an easy river to fish. There are definitely large sections of river that do not hold fish. For a mid-level skilled person like myself, you can increase the probability by covering more river. I would say that you can catch 8 fish per 5km hiked.

 

Again, something that was taught to me for the Bow, you have to break it down into smaller rivers. Imagine that the Bow is 3 different rivers at the same time. One of the things that the floods have given us is undercut banks. There are a lot of fish tight, tight to the banks.

 

Good luck. It is a very rewarding river when it pays off.

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After 70 hours of very little action, only 3 trout. I looked at some topo maps and found what I thought might be a great spot. So I decided to check it out, it was very hard to get to. After falling down a small cliff and braking one of my fly rods, I finally got there. Good thing I always bring back up. So I spent a good 30 min looking under rocks for bugs and clues, to see what they might be eating. I saw a bunch of black beetles, so I matched my fly as close to them as I could. Started to fish and it was like hitting the lottery trout after trout. I fished for 3 hours and lost count of the fish.The Bow river finally gave it up, I see now why people say its a fly fisherman's dream river.

 

Thanks for all the tips and support guy much appreciated.

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It's been a really tough year in the flowing water around here. If you have been fishing flowing water in Kananaskis, particularly the K river, it is fairly barren (or if it isn't, it has me utterly fooled). I haven't fished much up around Banff so don't know how the flood affected the fishing there, but if it's like anywhere else it certainly had an impact. The Bow has been much, much, much tougher than usual post flood for me at least, particularly on bigger fish. No idea if it is lack of fish or total change in behavior, but they have me fooled.

 

So be comforted in the fact you have a lot of company this year. And also that it is sure to get better as everything starts to recover and you start to figure out what works, and what doesn't. But I don't think the rivers here require different significantly different tactics than trout rivers anywhere else in the west.

I learned to fish on the Bow and as such has always been a river I felt at home on. This year is different. I'm still regularly catching fish sometimes big fish, but my catch rate is less than half of a typical year. My friends, many whom I consider to be gifted fisherman are all telling me the same thing. The river was definitely hurt but will recover.

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My first entire season I never landed much on the Bow. Through observing others and doing a ton of reading, I slowly picked up on the river and where it's trout lie. My suggestion would be a couple books for starters. Jim McLennan's "Blue Ribbon Bow" and Charles E. Brooks "Nymph Fishing for Larger Trout". Those two books will give you a vast arsenal of techniques to try on the Bow, and for other Alberta streams when the fish are not showing on top, get down and dirty and nymph them out. Hiring a guide for a day will definitely shorten that learning curve. Try Maxwell from this forum, if he still does Bow River walk and wades. Sometimes he runs a seasonal special, a great way to learn the river inside and out. I used to guide as well, doing walk and wades on the Bow, and most folks who did hire me came out of it with a vastly improved success rate on the Bow. I hope you can get out with someone like Max and see the same for yourself, but if funds are tight do read those books and apply those techniques as well. Good luck!!

 

(PS: I am not at all advertising myself on here as a guide, quite the opposite actually. I am done & retired and supporting a forum member who does a darn good job)

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My first entire season I never landed much on the Bow. Through observing others and doing a ton of reading, I slowly picked up on the river and where it's trout lie. My suggestion would be a couple books for starters. Jim McLennan's "Blue Ribbon Bow" and Charles E. Brooks "Nymph Fishing for Larger Trout". Those two books will give you a vast arsenal of techniques to try on the Bow, and for other Alberta streams when the fish are not showing on top, get down and dirty and nymph them out. Hiring a guide for a day will definitely shorten that learning curve.

 

The books are awesome. Anything by Jim McLennan is both incredibly entertaining and informative. "Trout Streams of Alberta", which is now unfortunately out of print, gave me all the information for fishing the trout streams. I have made a few adjustments based on my style, but whenever I take someone new fishing, I teach the same thing McLennan taught me.

I have a feeling, Onlyfly, that you are a competent fly fisher (probably better than me). "Blue Ribbon Bow" is a wealth of knowledge that the intermediate and advanced fly fisherman can really exploit.

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