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Bow River

Country: Canada
District: Alberta
Type: River

Location size
River: 65 km

Distance from
Calgary: 5-60 km

Local fly fishing shop, guiding service, up to date fishing reports, and more

The Bow River offers excellent, world class fishing oppurtunities just minutes from the major city of Calgary, Alberta. The Bow River offers the uncomparable experience of catching trophy trout in the shadows of the breathtaking Rocky Mountains and minutes away from shopping, tourist activities and the ammenities of a city of a million people. With over 65 km of fishable water downstream of the city of Calgary the river offers variety and oppurtunities rarely seen elsewhere.

A premier blue ribbon trout stream offering trophy rainbow and brown trout.

How To Get There

The Calgary International Airport is the main transportation hub of this area with incoming and outgoing flights from around the world. From the airport, the Bow River is just a few minutes drive. The Bow River between Bearspaw Dam and Carseland Weir is the best and most consistent stretch of river. Public access points and boat launches include: Glenmore Drive, Fish Creek (22x), Policemans Flats, McKinnons Flats, Jensen's, and Carseland Weir. Best foot access is Policemans Flats and best stretch is Policeman's Flats to McKinnon's Flats.

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Location Details

The Bow River flows through the city of Calgary offering fishing oppurtunities minutes from airport or your hotel.  River access can be found 5-60 km from Calgary.

The Bow River is a freestone river at the feet of the Rocky Mountains. It offers riffles, pools, buckets, and a variety of bank structures that hold trophy brown and rainbow trout.

The river flows through the city of Calgary into the rural areas of Southern Alberta, meaning you can be fishing the river in the midst of sky scrappers one day and the next be miles from civilization. The Bow River has multiple boat, and hand launches as well as numerous foot accesses.

A major attraction for anglers and tourists alike is the Calgary Stampede but Calgary offers many other attractions whether you like to shop, tour museums, explore the mountains by foot, bike or boat and many other exciting attractions.


The Bow River is home to brown trout and rainbow trout which are of trophy size. Average size is 16-18" but the truly large fish easily exceed 24-26". Rainbow trout are rumoured to be of steelhead origin, and pull exceptionally well giving anglers an arobatic demonstration during the fight.

How To Fish

Spring runoff occurs during late May and early June, during which time the river fishes best with heavy nymphs and streamer imitations. Prior to runoff, the river is often inconsistent and dependent on weather as winter often continues late into spring. 

When the river clears and lowers, local peak angling season emerges. Large hatches allow anglers dry fly oppurtunities from June well into October. On slower days, light nymph rigs and streamers are effective. Our largest hatches include the Stonefly in July, and Caddis from May to September.

Many anglers enjoy fishing size 18 Tricos in the mornings of August and switching over to Hoppers as the day heats up in the afternoon, allowing for steady dry fly fishing all day long!

Recommended flies: Black Woolly Bugger, Zonker, Copper Hare's Ear, Elkwing Caddis Olive, Parachute Adams, CDC Blue Wing Olive, Minnikin's Paradun Olive.


We recommend 9 foot 4 or 5 weight fly rods with floating lines for small dries and nymphs and 9 foot 6 or 7 weight fly rods with floating and sinking tip fly lines for streamers, larger nymphs and terrestrial imitations.

Practical Info

Due to the close proximity to the city of Calgary, accomodation is abundant. If your looking for a unique experience, The North Bow Lodge located on the banks of the Bow River offers a rustic, wilderness experience. Country Pleasures Fly Fishing is a local tackle shop and guiding outfitter ( A guide is not obligatory but useful for anglers beginners to progressed.

The majority of the Bow River is open year round.

An Alberta fishing license and WIN (Wildlife Identification Number) is required for anglers, and can be purchased online at

Catch and release is recommended.

Fishing License
Fishing Regulations
Calgary Tourism Information
Guiding Outfitter and Fly Shop

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