Guided Fly Fishing on the Bow River in Canmore, Alberta

Guided FLY FISHing on The Upper Bow River.

Book a Float & Wade Trip with us here in Canmore, Alberta - Canada.

The Upper Bow River (sometimes referred to as the Middle Bow River) from the Banff National Park boundary downstream and the float trips that surround us in the town of Canmore, are easily among some of the most beautiful and varied freestone fly waters anywhere. The Bow Valley is lined with peaks stretching skyward to to nearly 10'000ft, and our proximity to the glaciers and icefields at the source, leave turquoise blue, clean and clear water to it's exit from the mountains into the foothills.

We offer float trips on 2 sections of the river, both accessible in 10-15min from your accommodation in Canmore. These are the waters that inspire us most; stunning scenery, constantly varied, and commonly numerous opportunities daily to hook up with the brown trout that inhabit these stretches. Brown's are predominant, however anglers can also find rainbows in the lower stretches, brooks and bulls, as well as rocky mountain whitefish can also be found though in lesser numbers.

The Upper Bow is our first choice for float trips (see why below), but a drastically different experience than the Blue Ribbon sections of the Lower Bow in and below the city of Calgary; this is an important distinction here - and worth clarifying if you are uncertain before booking.

 Premium Equipment Included

FROM SAGE, SIMMS FISHING, RIO & LOON OUTDOORS
 

  Knowledgeable local Guides

OUR LOCAL CAREER GUIDES KNOW HOW TO KEEP IT FUN & THE LEARNING ROLLING 
 

 21/22 CLACKACRAFT EDDY DRIFTBOATS

COMFORTABLE FOR 2 ANGLERS & YOUR GUIDE
 

 ALL Beverages provided 

DELI STYLE LUNCH AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST & BEVERAGES INCLUDED (ALCOHOL NOT PERMITTED)
 
 
Half Day Float Trip Programs

We can accommodate half-day float trips on the Upper Bow River in Canmore. These float trips will take place only on the upper most available sections of river located in the town of Canmore. 

Rates for half day trips are $625.00 for either 1 or 2 anglers / per boat.
All beverages included; deli-style lunch available upon request.
Half day float trips are 3-4 hours in length.

 

 

FULL DAY FLOAT

HALF DAY FLOAT

 

MAY

WHAT TO EXPECT: 

Typically at this time of year the fishing really just starting to come around - this is early season for us in Canmore. Depending on flow rates, and water temperature at this time of year, trips may be possible early in the month, but in reality, there is better time yet to come. Early in May, water temps often hover around the 40˚F mark, and the majority of the fish are yet to leave their wintering holes to disperse through The Upper Bow River. 

Typically as the daytime temperatures begin to rise and spring precip events roll through, flow rates begin to increase in the last few weeks of the month, and the river can begin to turn on for a short window ahead of runoff. The fishing can be quite good during this period, but is heavily dependant on air and water temp, precipitation events, and weather. 

Trips booked during the months of May are booked on a tentative basis, and eligible for FULL REFUND, if it is deemed by our Guides & Clients in tandem, that the fishing conditions are not conducive to meeting expectations. We often also have significant flexibility in our schedule at this time of year, making rebooking by a few days or a week generally easy to accommodate.

HATCHES & BUGS: 

Small hatches of midges and BWO's are the first to arrive, typically in small volumes early in the month. The last few weeks of may can bring hatches of march browns and caddis, again in small numbers. The most productive techniques this time of year are generally nymphs fished deep and slow, or swinging streamers and wets. As always, we target rising fish where we can, typically with small flies in the sz. 18-20 range.
 

June

WHAT TO EXPECT: 

June is run-off month for us here in Canmore. Typically, this begins in the first week or so of June and can run for 2-3 weeks before water levels again begin to stabilize. We generally take a break from Guiding during this period on the Upper Bow, and will again begin to book trips once conditions become more favourable. We opt for this break, as the technical character of the river here can change drastically day to day. Log jams can either break down, or new one's will form, and trees lining the rivers bank can collapse with increased water pressure blocking passage, and do on a yearly basis. We prefer to allow run off to subside, allow a few days for assessment of the changes to these sections both by helicopter, and on the water, and return to running trips once the river conditions are more predictable and lower risk.

The period immediately post runoff can produce some of the best fishing of the season, and we often suggest the few weeks immediately after runoff as a prime period to book.

For those booking during mid to late June, the decision to run trips will be made immediately prior to your day with us by our Guides, and again be based on ensuring reasonable risk levels for the trip, and meeting your expectations with respect to the fishing opportunities. If you choose to book with us during the period between June 1st and June 25th, FULL REFUNDS will be available to you if fishing conditions are not conducive to meeting your expectations.

HATCHES & BUGS: 

Caddis are occasionally seen on the water during this period, however it is often the arrival of the stoneflies in mid June that really begin to turn things on. PMD's are often productive in smaller sizes, and green drakes can additionally be found from June 15th onward through mid August.

July

WHAT TO EXPECT: 

Generally water conditions will begin to stabilize in early July. Runoff rarely extends in depth into July, and flow rate fluctuations become more reflective of rain events and afternoon thunderstorm activity with flow rates now gradually dropping as the summer slides onward. Generally, we're into stable and predictable angling conditions by this point in the season. This is a great time to think of planning a trip with us - often the period immediately post run-off can offer excellent streamer fishing second only to the fall months to come. The fish begin to rise more consistently turning on the dry fly fishing, and nymphing or swinging tactics remain excellent options to move fish.

HATCHES & BUGS: 

Caddis, PMD's, Golden Stones & Green Drakes are often the flavour of the month. Hopper patterns and other terrestrials are productive and a good choice to move the bigger fish. 

August

WHAT TO EXPECT: 

Prime time. Late July through mid September are among the best times to look to book your trip. Dry fly fishing becomes more consistent, and days out often allow you to use, or learn, a variety of tactics and techniques to get into the fish. Flow rates have typically dropped substantially by this point in the season, and the water tends to clear while still holding its hue of turquoise our mountain waters are known for. One of the main advantages to choosing an Upper Bow Float at this time of year is the predictability of the water temperatures. While the Lower Bow in recent years had experienced much disruption as it voluntarily shuts down as water temperatures increase to 68-70˚F, the Upper Bow during these same periods can often have far more ideal water temperatures, hovering between 55-65˚C which are optimal for Brown Trout. Not only does this maintain the quality of the experience for the angler, but reduces the likelihood of fish mortality, as we're not stressing and playing the fish to exhaustion in an already stressed state brought on by higher water temperatures. All things considered, this is often an excellent time of the season to look to book your trip with us.

HATCHES & BUGS: 

Caddis, PMD's (late July early August), Golden Stonefly, Green Drake, Tricos, Fall Caddis (late August & September). Terrestrial patterns continue to be productive as well.

September

WHAT TO EXPECT: 

Early September often feels like a continuation of August, tactics remain much the same, as does the bugs and trout behaviours. Towards the end of the month as the Brown Trout roll into pre-spawn season as water temperatures drop to between 45-50˚F; this can be an excellent time to focus on streamer fishing as the larger browns begin offer up follows and hookups more freely. 

HATCHES & BUGS: 

Caddis, PMD's (late July early August), Golden Stonefly, Green Drake, Tricos, Fall Caddis (late August & September). Terrestrial patterns continue to be productive as well. Streamers. 

 

 

RODS: 

The rods we provide which are included in your booking, and available for you to use are generally in the 9ft, 5wt to 6wt range. These are typically a combination of the Sage R8, the Sage X, and the Sage SONIC, all premium rod offerings.

Further, for those interested in Trout Spey angling or techniques, we carry a small selection of the Sage Trout LL 3wt rods as well. 

For those who prefer to bring and use their own; you might enjoy the more delicate presentation that comes with a 9ft or 8.5ft 4wt with a slow to medium action for dry fly work, however it would not be our suggestion to have this as your only rod. Ideally a 4wt is accompanied by a 9ft 6wt for nymphing and streamer fishing as well. Typically the heavier rods are best with medium to fast action. 

REELS: 

The reels we provide are a combination of the Sage SPECTRUM & SPECTRUM LT. These will come in 4/5 wt or 5/6 wt  to match rod and technique application. 

LINES: 

The vast majority of the techniques required on the Upper Bow River can be served by what is called a weight forward line weighted to match the rod. Unless you have a specific preference to underline or overline your rig and are bringing your own gear, we simply match line weight, to the reel, and then onto our rods. 

Typically the lines you'll see on our reels are RIO Gold, RIO Elite Technical Trout & The Rio Perception, generally premium offerings and are replaced frequently for best performance. If you are bringing your own reel or spare spools, a WF5W* or WF6W* will cover the vast majority of your needs here. Intermediate sinking lines can have their application, but are not essential. 

* WF5W = Weight Forward 5 Weight Line for example.

For more information on our Trout Spey offerings, get in touch with the office to request.

Waders & Wading Boots: 

We provide included in your booking the use of a selection of our Simms Waders & Boots. If you have your own, feel free to bring them along, however we do require that if you are coming in from outside the Bow River system to join us, that all wading gear is cleaned and sanitized prior to your arrival. This is also particularly important for international clients arriving from outside Canada, and should be done prior to arriving at a Canadian port of entry.

Clothing:

Generally, the clothing you will be required to bring with you will be minimal for your day out with us. During the months of July and August, weather patters and forecasts become more predictable - however in the early and late season it is best to have a variety of cold weather options and precipitation is more common, and weather forecasts occasionally less accurate, and at minimum having a insulated jacket, as well as Gore-Tex (or equivilant) rain jacket will be required.

  • Long sleeve synthetic base layer with hood (suggested - great for sun protection)
  • Light Collared Synthetic Shirt (suggested - nice for the really hot sunny days)
  • Mid Layers - Tops and Bottoms (for colder weather or spring months only)
  • Socks - A Wool Blend is best, no cotton (suggested)
  • Softshell or Windbreaker Jacket (or similar)
  • Gore Tex Jacket (a critical item if we have rain or cold weather in the forecast)
  • Sun Hat (ball cap or sombrero style's are good)
  • Buff Style Neck Tube or Similar
  • Insulated Hat (for colder weather or spring months only)
  • 1/2 Finger Gloves or Neoprene (for cold weather or spring months only)
  • Down or Synthetic Insulated Jacket (or equivalent, for cold weather days)

 

Upper Bow River Trout Species: 

  • Brown Trout to 75cm
  • Brook Trout to 50cm
  • Bull Trout to 75cm 
  • Rainbows (in lower stretches) to 65cm
  • Lake Trout to 75cm

Other: Rocky Mountain Whitefish to 55cm

Here you can expect a healthy number of browns in the 8-12in range that keep things interesting throughout your float. For anglers focused on hooking up with the larger offerings, the habitat on our lower float sections leading to Deadman's Flats offer multiple opportunities to coax these fish from the big buckets and technical structure and prime habitat along this float section. Sections below the town of Exshaw also offer good opportunities to take larger fish, however is floated less frequently.

 

Same river. Different Experience. 

Before booking our Upper Bow River float trips, it is worth noting that some may assume that the character of these upper sections of the river are the same as those in and below the city of Calgary. While both incredible experiences, viewed through the eyes of an angler, these two sections of the river differ greatly with respect to the angling experience. Here we'll look to paint the picture of what to expect when booking a trip on either the Upper Bow River or the Lower Bow River -  and how to make sure you're choosing the right trip. 

 

Upper (Middle) Bow River: 

Canmore, Alberta.

The Upper Bow River, or what's occasionally known as the Middle Bow River, is a freestone mountain river. Our home waters here in Canmore are effectively freely connected, directly to the source at Bow Lake and the Wapta Icefields in Banff National Park. Flow rates here change naturally with somewhat minimal human interference and are impacted by the seasons, snowpack depths from the previous winter, rain events during the summer months, and the timing and intensity of the summer heat. Generally speaking, given that the fish in this stretch of river are more accustomed to managing consistent changes in flow and have adapted, they are often more opportunistic feeders. Another incredible pleasure of floating this river is the position and mountain scenery surrounding us - these float trips are arguably some of the most beautiful stretches of river in North America with peaks in every direction stretching skyware to near 10'000ft. It is not uncommon to see elk crossing us below the boat, bears roaming the banks or osprey fishing the same stretches of the river we do. This adds an element to an Upper Bow River trip that just can't be replicated on the lower sections of the river near Calgary. 

The fish we target here are primarily Brown Trout, and while there truly are some big trout worth our time here, the waters of the Upper Bow are effectively less fertile than those below Calgary, it should be expected that total numbers will be lower, and average size smaller. 

Floating the most productive sections of the Upper Bow River require a sound, and current knowledge of the river structure and hazards. Fluctuating flow rates rates and deadfall impact our ability to pass certain features on these sections, which can change at times on a daily basis. Logjams shift, deadfall blocks passage, or water levels can drop to the point of impasse for a drift boat. These floats are a proper mountain adventure. Further, without a local understanding of how to navigate the complexities of the interconnected channels in many sections, trouble often awaits. Hard to focus on the fish when you're busy scaring the shit out of yourself.

All in, exploring these sections of the river provide an adventurous mountain experience, away from the traffic (boat) jams of the lower sections, and offer good challenges for any angler. Given the limited access by foot, many of these sections receive very little angling pressure, and combined with opportunistic fish makes the Upper Bow our preference for floats.

 

Lower Bow River: 

Calgary to Carseland, Alberta.

The waters of the Lower Bow River consist of roughly 55km of highly fertile, Blue Ribbon waters, stretching from the City of Calgary downstream to the small hamlet of Carseland. This nutrient rich water creates a level of biodiversity that is incredible to witness on your floats, and supports good populations of large, hard fighting rainbow and brown trout. These sections are too, uniquely beautiful. The seeming expanse and simplicity of the prairies the river cuts through makes for beautiful days on the water. If you're priorities are focused mainly on having access to higher numbers of larger, harder fighting fish, then the sections of the Lower Bow are the place to book your float.

 

 

WAIVER - RELEASE OF LIABILITY & INDEMNITY AGREEMENT

Prior to booking you will be required to acknowledge that you have been provided a copy of our Waiver of Liability Agreement for your review. All participants, or their legal guardians wishing to participate on any Cloud Nine Programs, must acknowledge that they have been presented this document in advance of booking, have read it in its entirety, and understand the agreement being entered into by signing. While there is no obligation to enter into this agreement with us, it is a condition of our service provision. 

   

 

 

Booking Terms & Conditions

Prior to booking your trip with us, please take a moment to review our Booking Terms and Conditions. These terms inform our refund, cancellation and credit forward policies as well as other important information regarding your booking with us. 

  Find our Booking Terms & Conditions by Clicking Here.