Bushwhackers Society Spring Preview

Bushwhackers Society Spring Preview

Hello everyone and Welcome back to the Bushwhackers Society Blog for the 2017 Fly-Fishing season. Open water has arrived in Alberta; a good chunk of fine trout water is now open for the season, and the ice is coming off in time for anglers to enjoy some great fishing!

Spring time for me usually means a couple of things. Trying to figure out life and upcoming work being the first and foremost priority. But also trying to enjoy every last second on the ski hills as winter fades into memory, while old memories of trout come and gone slowly start to bubble back up to the surface of my brain. Alberta has a great mix of water that is outstanding during the spring, and while many are eager to get out and get back into the swing of things, most anglers don’t really begin to think about fishing until after spring run-off. I for one began thinking about fishing as soon as I realized it was April 1st and all my favourite Brown Trout streams were open for business. So, alas, I have quit my winter job and now find myself able to enjoy all the great trout fishing and skiing until my heart is content. Which will probably never happen.

With the open water comes a few friendly reminders from the Bushwhackers Society. April 1st marks the new angling season. So if you plan on heading out fishing, make sure you get your new fishing licence. Check your regulations, as only select waters are open and many special regulations apply. Save yourself the ticket and the paranoia and pick one up as you gear up for the first time.

The second reminder is that of the persisting problem of Whirling disease. We covered this topic in a prior post, so if you want to learn more check it out here

 Whirling Disease In the Bow River

So just one more friendly reminder to clean (with a bleach solution) all of your wading gear if you are heading anywhere outside of the Bow River. This is important and each person is equally responsible for the protection of our waters.

Finally, a few interesting changes worth noting for this season. The Bow River will be open along its length for the entire season. Welcome news for anglers looking to fish the upper Bow. And further, the Bow River will be Catch and Release only for all trout. Another interesting change that all anglers should be aware of.

Now, onto the fun stuff. Open water!!

Wondering where to head out for your spring adventures? Beginning in the south, here is what is open and worth trying.

Crowsnest River:  The stretch that is open is from the East Hillcrest Bridge downstream to Lundbreck Falls. The river is closed from the falls to the HWY 3 Bridge, and then open again from the Bridge to the reservoir. Early spring should be the best as the Crow, along with most mountain fed streams, should experience a large runoff once things warm up. The Salmonfly hatch will be underway soon, and this can be great fishing, Get after it.

Oldman River: The Oldman River is open downstream of the HWY 22 bridge to the Reservoir, and also directly below the Reservoir. This should also be good fishing until spring run-off begins, after which is will be un-fishable until late June or July.

Bow River: While it never closed, the Bow is fishing great and always gives anglers a chance at great fish. Streamers and Nymphs will produce if you put in your time.

Red Deer River Basin: The mainstem of the Red Deer River is open, along with most of the major tributaries. The mainstem is mostly ice-free all the way up to the headwaters, however, the slower moving tributaries still have some ice and are probably a few warm days away from being ready to fish. The faster flowing mountain fed tributaries are ice free, and should be good fishing until run-off begins. These include the James River, the Panther River, the Dormer, to name a few.

A nice Brown from one of Alberta’s Spring Creeks

The spring creeks are where some ice still exist, but up in the middle sections they are close. The Browns can be sluggish and skinny after a long, post-spawn winter, so treat the fish right if you do go hunting them in the next week of so. The spring creeks are your best bet for fishing once spring run-off begins, as they will stay low and clear. Focus on the deep water with small streamers and big nymphs and you should have good luck.

Clearwater/ North Saskachewan: Again, good stretches of water open in the main stems of the Clearwater and in the N. Sask.

Lakes: Alpine lakes will still have ice for another month or so, but lower lakes are all becoming ice free and should be ice free in a couple weeks. Once run off begins, lakes are a great way to get into some fish and knock off some rust.

There is other streams open in Watersheds that are otherwise primarily closed. Check your regulations before heading out. This is also a great time of year to do some reckon on streams that you have never fished and to just get out and explore. There is always something new to find.

This time of year, I always find the the snow pack charts very interesting in terms of what we can expect for mid-summer flows and spring run-off. Alberta Fishing guide magazine always keeps me informed, and from the charts this year, it looks like we can expect strong run-off and healthy mid-season flows.

Red Deer River Drainage

Oldman River Drainage


As you can see, we are at the very top end of the Quartiles and have a very healthy mountain Snowpack.

(Charts Coutesy of: Alberta Fishing Guide Magazine)

For an always great forecast and endless information about Fly-Fishing in Alberta, head to the Alberta Fishing Guide Forecast.


And there you have it folks. At the very least, I hope this gets you a little excited about the upcoming season and at least gets you thinking about fishing once again. I can’t wait for the upcoming season and all the places it may take me, and all the people I will share it with.

If you have any more questions, want to go fishing, or just looking for some feedback, feel free to email us at Bushwackersflyfish@gmail.com, or like us on Facebook and reach out to us through there.

Hope to see you all on the River!




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