This has been a great year for Hopper fishing on Montana’s Missouri River.With luck it will last well into to September.The days start out fishing droppers under Hopper patterns and once the trout start looking up they come off.The “eats” dry from subtle sips to vicious attacks forcing anglers to be on their toes and forever being ready.Fishing the banks can be productive and classic however mid river produces the most results a game of wait and see.The best hook ups are the ones that come out of the “skinny water ” the fish don’t like to be “busted ” and go ballistic when hooked chances are Anglers lose the fight but W.T.F. thats what Fly-Fishing is all about.
Conditions wise things here on the Missouri River are day to day you have to get out there and see what is going on.Between Guided trips I’ve been getting out with friends or fishing Solo.All enjoyable of course.The Hopper bite can be off and on you have to commit to it if in doubt We have thrown some streamers with good results.To shake things up I have ventured out to some small streams south of Helena in search of Brown Trout which can also be rewarding.Despite the Covid Crap This Season has been a blast.
Ontop of the stellar Fishing on The Missouri River there are some decent small streams to fish in the area.Of course they go nameless.It’s a great way to spend a day and seeing some great country.My friend Heather and I headed out to check out a stream she has access to.It was well worth the visit as numerous Browns and a Cutthroat ate our foam Hopper offerings.Perfecto !
I arrived in Montana last week and so far its been a blast.I have fished some small creeks,Guided on the Missouri River and explored some new water with my friend Lindsey Channel.
The Fishing has been good and will only get better,as the rivers are on the high side which means we will have good flows throughout the season.Currently the hatching P.M.D.’s and Caddis have been getting them on top.
Of course Nymphing is always good and Streamers have their day.As I look towards Late July into August Hopper fishing should be awesome as there are a lot of Small Hoppers kicking around already.
I’ll be busy as I can be on the Missouri River,on days off I attend to explore and fish as much as possible.If you can get out this way let us know.We have some space and being here in Montana is good for the soul.
From a Calgary Fly-Fishing perspective the relationship between The Bow River and The City is extremely unique.The “famous” stretch of the Bow River referred to as The “lower” Bow River is where the action is.Depending on who you talk to this section starts at Fish Creek Provincial Park while some Calgary Fly-Fishers may contend that it starts just above the Calf Robe Bridge where the Bonny Brook Sewage Treatment Plant pumps treated affluent into the river.This nutrient load is the reason why the Lower Bow River has a large biomass aiding in the obscene growth rate Bow River Trout are famous for.It’s also at Fish Creek Park where The Bow River begins to leave the urban sprawl of Calgary behind as menders through farm and ranch land, heading east to join the Oldman River where together they form The South Saskatchewan River eventually flowing into Hudson’s Bay.
The 50 mile Lower Bow River setting is picture perfect for what Fly-Fishers from around the World seek,Serenity,wildlife,and large wild Trout.Guides and DIY Anglers for the most part stick to the lower Bow because the trout population seems to be more equally balanced between sometimes moody browns and easier to catch rainbows.Although anecdotal most anglers would agree the further up The Bow River you fish Brown Trout tend to dominate making for some slow days if the bite is not on.There is also the aesthetics of Fly-fishing through a city of million people,but when it’s on The Fly-fishing for large Brown Trout can be lights out.
Until recently the “City Stretch” above The Glenmore Trail Bridge was for the most part untouched from Drift Boat Anglers,however due to some forward thinking City Planners The Harvey Passage was created allowing floaters to bypass the Western Irrigation Dam at the same time Bow River User Groups petitioned the City to start opening up more access for launching boats.The result has been beneficial to both Anglers and Trout.
This has given Drift Boat Anglers another two full day floating options starting in N.W. Calgary and taking out at the Calgary Zoo,or floating from the Zoo and taking out at Glenmore Trail.Floaters can also continue going all the way to Fish Creek Provincial Park.The benefit for the Trout is that more spawning habitat has been opened up via the passage around the Irrigation Dam and although there was a fish ladder for the trout to navigate the Dam,it was often clogged with debris making it difficult for pre spawning Bow River Brown Trout to navigate, thats now changed with the passage.
This has been a long overdue game changer for The Calgary Fly-Fishing Scene.Although fishing can be tough it has taken some pressure off the more popular lower Bow River and given Anglers an alternative if Bow River tributaries are pumping dirty water namely The Elbow River as a good portion of this float is above it.
Planes,Trains,Automobiles and Fly-Fishing
When I first moved to Calgary I always fished in the City as it was easy to access,close to home and with the time restraints I was dealing with I could easily fish for a few hours and call it good.My usual beat was below The Ogden Railway Yard down to the Calf Robe Bridge.I would start off fishing streamers swinging them “down and across” while wading and if a hatch materialized I would switch to Dry Flies.
These Fly-Fishing “quickies” helped develop my current love affair with this part of the river.As my guiding career progressed this area became my proving grounds on new files or tactics I was experimenting with.Now on my days off I’m quick to rekindle this relationship and float it.This stretch can be noisy and sometimes the Tubers can be a little distracting however The Bow River has a different character compared to further down river.It’s more “bouncy” due to the gradient, there are lots of rip rap banks, gravel bars and Islands with side Channels making for some very interesting and “fishy” water.There are also fewer Drift Boats and Jet Boats are not allowed.
Given the nature of the River it’s not conducive to Nymph rides,It’s a Streamer or foam Dry Fly game, with Streamer fishing being the most effective.The fish population is not as dense as The lower Bow River consisting of mostly Brown Trout with a few Rainbows thrown in,when its on you can get into plenty of 14-16 inch Browns with some tanks to keep you on your game.When its off, its off.
Myself and my Calgary Fly-Fishing Guide Friends love it.On days off its our go-to as we can be on it early in the AM then off in the early afternoon allowing us to get it together for Bow River Guide Trips the the next day.There is also something to be said about catching trout as you float thru the downtown core of a City of over 1 million people! A very unique experience and a testament to the water quality of the Bow River.
When the stars align and various Mayflies and/or Caddis hatch you can also find yourself throwing Dry Flies to rising Trout or fishing foam Hopper or Stonefly Patterns from the Boat when thats going on.For Visitors to Calgary that may not have the time for a Guided Float Trip on the Lower Bow River, this stretch is worth considering as the travel time to the river is a lot quicker than driving out of the Calgary City Limits.
Some of our Bow River Fly-Fishing Clients have now tacked on an extra day just to get a taste of the City Stretch.Their fingers are crossed on every cast hoping for the chase and an eat from a trophy Bow River Brown Trout.
For More Information or to Book a Guided Bow River Fly-Fishing Trip or information on Calgary Fly-Fishing Contact Us ! We love to help you out and Our Bow River Fly-Fishing Guides are always “UP” for Floating the Bow River in Calgary Alberta.
Leeches are an important food source for all things “fishy” subsequently most Fly-Fishers have a go to pattern that they use.Mine has always been a very basic Mohair Leech as it’s simple to tie and fishes well.Fishing Leech Patterns on both Rivers and Lakes can be done in any number of ways and all methods are effective.You can hang underneath a Strike Indicator and Nymph them, trail a leach pattern behind a larger streamer and strip them back or fish a couple leeches in different of combinations and see which works.A popular method on Alberta’s Bow River is to tie a “light” Leech pattern and drop it off the bend of a Foam Stonefly or Hopper Pattern.Leach Patterns are versatile,effective, and impressionistic,meaning your quarry might be eating them for a number of reasons on top of looking like leeches.
Why The Simi Seal Leech ?
My fishing Clients from Arizona always raved about the Semi Seal Leech and we would fish them with excellent results.For whatever reason I did not completely embrace this pattern even after moving to Arizona.The Mohair Pattern seemed to work fine so I just never bothered tying The Simin Seal Leech until this year. John Rohmer’s Simi Seal Leech is even easier which makes it faster to tie.It’s also just as effective as my old “go to” !Best of all it requires one Material which is Simi Seal Dubbing,throw a Bead on it and you are set.It is just as effective as more elaborate patterns and with the variety of colors you can cover the whole gauntlet of what you can use it for.Normally we are tying it in sizes #8-#10 on a Mustad 9672 nymph hook. Colors I like are Black,Brown,Tan and white.These colors cover the gauntlet on which fly can represent which are Leeches,Baitfish,Crayfish,Damsel,Dragon and Stone fly nymphs.Checkout JohnRohmer’s Video below have fun tying.Click Here for Materials.