In recent years, the Bow River has become known as one of the world's premier trout fisheries. Anglers from all over America, Europe and Japan have fished the river and they are unanimous in their praise. The Bow is home to a self-sustaining populations of large Rainbow and Brown Trout, that readily take an artificial fly.
The most productive section of the Bow is the fifty miles of river downstream from the City of Calgary. This portion carries a population of approximately 2500 trout per mile. What sets the Bow apart from other quality fisheries, is the large average size of fish that it produces. Fish in the 16 to 18 inch class are commonplace, and it is an unusual day when an angler does not hook a fish in excess of twenty inches. These large fish can be taken with a variety of fly-fishing methods. Under proper conditions, heavy caddis and mayfly hatches will bring fish to the surface, and the dry fly fishing can be spectacular. When the fish aren't rising, the fishing is very consistent with nymphs and streamers.
The Bow is a large freestone stream that has spring creek characteristics,
lots of riffles and pocket water for the nymph or streamer fisherman, and
long flats for the dry fly angler. The river averages 400 feet in width,
offering a great amount of water to be explored. Since there are surprisingly
few public access points, guides are a practical necessity. This placid
river is easily floated in our 16 foot McKenzie style drift boats. These low
profile boats are easy to get in and out of and spacious enought to give 2
fishermen plenty of room. The boats are also equipped with ample dry storage
The river is roughly divided into five sections, each day 8 to 10 miles of water will be floated. Some fishing is done from the boats, but the majority of fishing is done wading and stalking. Our normal start time is around 10am and anglers are usually fishing until 9 or 10pm or later, depending upon weather or fishing conditions. The closest starting point to the city is only 15 minutes away. Your day's float is left up to the discretion of your assigned guide. Each section floated offers a different fly fishing experience.
West Winds usually begins the guiding season
in early May, and operates
through until the end of October. The first two weeks of June may be
unfishable because of run-off. Each month offers different hatches for the
dry fly angler. Fishermen using nymphs or streamers will be successful
throughout the season. Anglers should come prepared to fish a variety of
techniques. Westwind's guides are skilled in all phases of fly fishing
and are willing to teach their skills to visiting anglers. The river offers
plenty of opportunities to try new techniques or perfect your favorite.
These guides have spent many days on the river and their suggestions are
made from experience. The guides know the river and its secrets, and
their suggestions and techniques should be heeded. Nobody wants to see
you catch fish more than your guide.
West Winds also offers guided trips to the Crowsnest River, another blue-ribbon fishery located in the very south west corner of Alberta. The Crowsnest is a small river averaging 40 feet in width, and is very easy to wade. The river is too small to float. The river opens to anglers in June and closes at the end of October. Crowsnest trout are primarily rainbow in the 14 to 18 inch range, but the larger fish are present. The river is a prolific freestone, offering caddis, mayflies, midges and big salmonfly for the dry fly angler. Nymph fishermen will do well the entire season. We have the exclusive use of a bed and breakfast as a working ranch located on the banks of the stream. We would be pleased to show you this small, walk and wade stream.
West Winds is owned and operated by Gord and Mary Kennedy, and is based in
Calgary, Alberta. Calgary is very accessible, as most major airlines
service this large Canadian city. The city is very clean, and the people
are friendly. Calgary is home to several large shopping centers and is only
an hour's drive away from Banff and the Rocky Mountains.
West Winds offers the following services for our clients:
About West Winds
West Winds is a member and supporter of Federation of Fly Fishers and California Trout. We are also endorsed by "Travel Alberta", Department of Tourism, Government of Alberta.
Founding member of the Bow River Angling Outfitters Association.
Gord is a Federation of Fly Fishers - Certified Flycasting Instructor and a Flycasting Instructor Advisory Committee Member.
When fly fishermen dream of large trout sipping small dry flies, they no doubt envision Montana. Great fishing, to be sure. But, by travelling north of Montana to Alberta, Canada, fly fishermen can experience two streams that rival any in the world. The Bow River, downstream of the city of Calgary, has been referred to as the "best trout stream in North America" by several outdoor writers and is visited annually by the likes of Gary Borger, Doug Swisher, and other well-known fly fishermen. Why to these anglers like the Bow River? The reasons are easy enough to find: little or no crowds; big wild trout; fish that will take a dry fly tied to 4X tippet.
The Bow River originates in the Canadian Rockies west of Calgary and flows right through the city. As it flows east from Calgary the Bow has been described as a large spring creek. Below the city is where trout grow to 20 inches in only three or four years. The river is host to a healthy native population of wild rainbow and brown trout. No stocking has been done in the Bow since the early 1950's. All the fish are naturally spawned in the river system.
Fishing on the Bow begins in early Mary using nymphs and streamers, but prolific hatches of March Browns and caddis being appearing in the later part of the month. Snowmelt usually occurs during the first two weeks of June, and the river is rendered unfishable because of high water. After the water settles down, fishing improves. Hatches of Pale Morning Duns and caddis sometimes blanket the water. As the warm summer months of July and August approach, the Pale Morning Duns and caddis are joined by Tricos and grasshoppers. As summer gives way to autumn, Blue-Winged Olives, caddis, and Tricos provide the dry fly action.
The fall is my personal favourite time to experience this river, as the fish are busy putting on the winter fat and feed continually. Very good to excellent dry fly fishing can be experienced well into October. Nymphing or streamer fishing is also very good in the fall, as these fish become very agressive preparing for the long, cold winter. Weather in Alberta this time of year is very unpredictable and anglers should be prepared for anything...light rain or even snow. But Blue-Wing Olives love the bad weather. Also the crowds have disappeared, and you just may have the whole river to yourself.
In the low light days of autumn, it is not unusual to find large trout in the 20-inch or larger class feeding in less than a foot of water. These "thin water" fish are aggressive and readily take anything presented on the surface. It is here on the Bow that you will have a legitimate chance of hooking a 20-inch fish on a size 20 dry fly.
Public access is very limited on the Bow, and all land bordering the river is privately owned. West Winds has made arrangements with local farmers, where we are allowed access to their land to launch our boats. These private accesses give us more flexibility for out guided trips.
The Crowsnest River, in the southwest corner of Alberta, is best described as the new kid on the block. Fly fishermen are now recognizing this small freestone as a real blue-ribbon stream. The "Crow" is home to a good native population of rainbow, brown, cutthroat, with the odd brookie and Bull Trout. The fish are smaller than the Bow (with the exception of the Bull Trout), but the surroundings of the Rocky Mountains more than compensate for the lack of size. The average fish will be 15 inches, although larger fish are taken daily.
The Crowsnest is a small freestone stream with spring creek characteristics - lots of riffle water for the nymph fisherman and plenty of flat water for the dry fly angler.
The Crowsnest is home to all the major mayflies and caddis, but the Giant Stonefly is the most sought after hatch for the spring fisherman. The large October caddis provide the fall fisherman some great dry fly fishing. Nymph fishermen are very successful on the Crowsnest.
West Winds has an exclusive bed and breakfast arrangement with a local rancher, who's home backs onto the river. The ranch is very private and relaxing, guests are encouraged to "make themselves at home" with free run of the property.
Calgary is a large city, with all the amenities of any large American city. It has an international airport that is serviced by all the major airlines. Flights into and out of Calgary are numerous, and will either go directly or easily connect to any major city in North America.
West Winds will also provide a shore lunch of your choosing. All necessary flies, leaders, tippets and such are available at our flyshop.