The Downtown Fly Fisher
By Bruce Masterman
The thriving Alberta city of Calgary has many claims
to worldwide fame - from being Canada's oil and gas capital,
to the spectacular Rocky Mountains, to the annual hoedown known
as the Calgary Stampede.
To most fly fishers, however, Calgary means only one thing: the
Bow River. Every year, the river draws thousands of anglers
eager to sample her legendary brown and rainbow trout of
20-plus inches. Some of the river's best year-round fly fishing
can be found in the shadow of towering concrete and glass offices
right in the heart of downtown. Office workers commonly take their
gear to work and fish for an hour at lunchtime, or hang around
after work to fish the evening hatch.
However, the Bow is not the only fly fishing game in town.
Far from it. Its lesser-known cousin, the Elbow River, also
provides good action for brown trout, mountain whitefish and -
the recent years - a growing population of northern pike. For
the still water aficionado, Calgary offers the Glenmore Reservoir
in the city's southwest. Fed by the Elbow River, the reservoir
supplies much of the cities water supply. It's an under-rated,
good bet for fly fishing seeking chunky brown and rainbow trout.
Every year, trout of several pounds are landed, some inadvertently
caught by pike anglers casting big spoons, but many by fly fishers
specifically targeting them. In southwest Calgary, fly fishers
frequent the ponds in the city-run Carburn Park, where rainbows
stocked years ago are still available dispite pressure from
illegally stocked yellow perch. Calgary's booming growth, which
has contributed to a population exceeding 800,000, has also
created a boon for many fly fishers right in their own backyards.
Ten residential subdivisions feature man-made lakes stocked with
rainbow trout that grow to several pounds. Unfortunately, access
to these lakes is restricted to subdivision residents and their
Close to Downtown
Visiting fly fishers who have time to explore waters an hour
or two from Calgary have a wide selection from which to
choose. There's the Bow River, of course, from Baniff
National Park downstream to Calgary, and from Calgary downstream
to Carseland. But there's also the upper Elbow River and its
tributaries, including Quirk Creek and Canyon Creek, where
fly fishers can hook into brookies, cutthroats, rainbows and
bull trout. The Elbow watershed also features numerious trout
ponds including Forget-Me-Not Pond, McLean Pond, and Allen Bill
Pond. Anglers not averse to paying to fish should check out
Chief Hector Lake, on the Stony Reserve near Morley, which
produces rainbows up to several pounds in seasons when they
The Bow River has many excellent fly-fishing tributaries, including
Jumpingpound Creek, the Sheep River, and Highwood River. Rainbows
are the most common species, with brookies, bull trout and some
cutthroats found toward the headwaters. The Sheep's tributaries,
including Ware and Threepoint creeks, are promising destinations, as
are Sullivan, Trap and Catarack creeks off the Highwood River. For
fly fishing small water in spectacular terrain, there little creeks
can't be beat.
Kananaskis Country, a provincially managed recreation area about
one hour west of Calgary has fine fishing in stocked high-mountain
lakes and beaver ponds, stocked with cutts, rainbows and brookies.
Hiking in to some of these places can be a challenge for anglers
not accustomed to high elevations, but it's generally well worth
the effort. Top hike-in lakes include Elbow, Picklejar, Fortress and
Rawson. Four small lakes (Bear Pond, Big Iron Lake, Quarry Lake and
Wege Pond) have been stocked with Arctic grayling, which are feisty
and fun to catch on a fly. If you prefer larger lakes, try
Barrier (browns), Spray (lakers), Upper Kananaskis (bulls and
Northest of Calgary, brown trout rule in many great streams and rivers,
including the Little Red Deer River, Dogpound Creek, Prairie Creek
and the North Raven River, a temperamental piece of water also known
as Stauffer Creek. The North Ram River, in the mountains of west-central
Alberta, boasts some of the best fly fishing for west-slope cutthroats
available in this province, or anywhere for that matter.
Continued Next Time!
Credits: This article is from the
Canadian Fly Fisher magazine. We appreciate use permission!
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