fly fisher standing in the river waiting for a fish to bite

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Want to Try Fly Fishing on the Bow River?

Avid fishers come to Calgary from all over the world just to go fly fishing on the beautiful Bow River. One of the major perks of living in Wolf Willow is that the Bow River and Fish Creek Park are within walking distance. With direct access to the river from the community, living in Wolf Willow is the perfect opportunity to give this gentle and relaxing sport a try yourself. Keep on reading to see if fly fishing might be your next summer hobby.

fly fisher casting their line out into the bow river

What is Fly Fishing?

If you’ve never been fly fishing before, you might be asking how it differs from traditional angling. Traditional angling uses a rod and line with a weighted lure that sinks, while fly fishing is the opposite. When you fly fish, you use a rod with a weighted line and a lightweight lure (a fly) to present the fish with “food”. According to Wikipedia, “the main difference between fly fishing and bait fishing is that in fly fishing the weight of the line carries the hook through the air, whereas in bait fishing the weight of the lure gives casting distance.”

Best Bow River Fishing Spots

You can fish pretty much anywhere on the Bow River, but south Calgary is reputed to be the best fly-fishing territory. Many devoted anglers recommend starting around the AB-22x bridge, which conveniently neighbours Wolf Willow on Stoney Trail. This Calgary Herald article from Jim Hoey provides some excellent information on the best practices and locations when searching for trout.

fly fisher showing their freshly caught fish in a net

When to Go Fly Fishing

While you can fish on the Bow River year-round, you’ll have better luck catching trout in the warmer summer months between late May and October. Many guides recommend July as the best month to go fly fishing. The fish become more active this time of year due to the rising temperature and settling water levels after the spring rains.

You’ll also find the fish tend to be more active in the early mornings and evenings, but in general, their activity level can vary depending on the day.

Varieties of Fish in the Bow River

Some of the most common types of fish you’ll find in the Bow River are trout (rainbow, bull, brook, and brown), rocky mountain white fish, pike, and sucker fish. Fly fishing for rainbow and brown trout is the most popular in the Bow River, due to their thriving populations.

There are catch limits when sportfishing in Alberta, so make sure you’re aware of the correct number before heading out on the water. The catch limits will vary based on fish species, so it’s important to stay up to date on the latest regulations. You can check out Alberta’s Guide to Sportfishing Regulations here.

sign near the bow river showing what fish live there

Gear You Need to Get Started

If you’re ready to hit the Bow River, you’ll need some gear to get started. The most important thing you’ll need before you can set out is your sportfishing license. Every person intending to fish will need a license, except for youths under 16 years old, Alberta residents over the age of 65, and First Nations’ Persons. Licenses are around $30 per year.

If you want to get your own fishing gear, here are some key items you need to gather before hitting the Bow:

  • A rod
  • Reel
  • Fly line
  • Waders
  • Boots
  • Tippet
  • A net
  • Flies

Otherwise, many of the local guides have gear you can rent or borrow for the day, which leads us to our next point!

fly fisher standing on the bank of the bow river pulling the rod up

Local Fly Fishing Guides and Clubs in Calgary

If you are interested in dipping your toes into fly fishing but don’t want to invest in all the equipment before trying the sport first, consider booking a local fly-fishing guide here in Calgary! These guided excursions are a great way to learn more about the sport of fly fishing from the experts. Your guide will teach you proper fishing techniques, the best locations to find fish, and overall best practices as you hit the river. Alternatively, joining a local fly-fishing club is a great way to meet new people with similar interests and learn the sport from other members.

Fly Fishing Guides

We pulled together a couple of local fly-fishing guides to help you get started on the available services. Of course, there are many talented guides to choose from with varying price points and packages in Calgary, so pick whichever guide best fits your excursion and budget.

  • Prairie Waters Fly Fishing
    • Offers a wide range of bookings, including Full Day Float, Half Day Float, and Walk & Wade packages.
  • Trout Farmer
    • Offers a Full Day Float package.
  • Bow River Anglers
    • Local fly-fishing legend, Barry White, has an assortment of guided fishing options available, including Guided Day Float, multiple Walk & Wade packages, and a Fly Fishing School.

Calgary Fly Fishing Clubs

  • The Calgary Women Fly Fishers Club (CWFFC) – established in 2011
    • Typically a male dominated sport, the CWFFC’s primary mission is to promote fly fishing among women of all ages in Calgary and the surrounding areas.
    • They also mentor and assist women learning how to fly fish, while providing opportunities for friendly social activities.
    • The CWFFC also places a focus on influencing the research and development of fly-fishing equipment and accessories that are specifically designed for women.
    • They promote and spread awareness of conservation issues and initiatives to continue to protect fish habitats 
    • Monthly meetings are held September through June, which include guest speakers or hands-on activities.
  • Calgary’s Hook and Hackle Club – established in 1954
    • The Hook and Hackle Club is dedicated to the enjoyment of all aspects of fly fishing, where club members are encouraged to share their knowledge and experiences.
    • They also encourage catch and release practices, good sportfishing ethics and etiquette, as well as preservation efforts for future generations.
    • There are bi-monthly meetings nearly every month, including guest speakers, demonstrations, and updates on current events in the fly-fishing world.
access to the bow river from wolf willow

Live near the Bow River in Wolf Willow

If you don’t currently live in Wolf Willow and are interested in joining the community, new lots will be available soon for purchase. Phases 9 and 4 are set to start construction this year. Phase 4 will have lots backing onto Fish Creek Park, while Phase 9 will have a new connection to the Bow River.

Both phases will also introduce 2 new parks to the community–fish and deer parks. These parks are scheduled to be designed in 2022 and built in 2023, so stay tuned for the design reveals!

To see which lots are available for purchase, please check out our interactive lot map. You can also sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Facebook or Instagram to know when the lots are released, as well as stay in the loop about community updates.