This a summary of a discussion on trout fishing in Alberta led by Darren Banasch at the monthly ODFGA meeting on 2016-05-17.  Darren is the president of Hook and Hackle in Okotoks, a wholesale supplier of fly fishing supplies. As a former fishing guide, he's been fly fishing for decades and has lots of information to share.  Darren has written a book titled “Which Fly Do I Use?: A Guide To Choosing Flies That Catch Trout”. 

Daren is a very experienced trout fisherman, using flies almost exclusively, and is a strong supporter of catch-and-release fishing. We talked about fishing in some local water bodies like Chain Lakes, Emerson Lake (High River), the Bow River. Trout are predators, but even large trout will hit small flies or small lures. It’s very important to research in advance which bugs are active at different times of the year. Trout feeding in lakes depends on the light conditions in the water as well as water temperature, so you might have to experiment with different depths. Fish can be in water anywhere from 2’ to 15’ deep, depending on the water temperature and light conditions.

Flies tied in minnow or leech patterns or small spoons and panther martins could work well. Main bug hatches to watch for include mayflies, chironomids, caddis flies and stone flies. Flies tied in those patterns are a must. A good fly fisherman should be able to understand where the fish are and what they are eating. Darren uses floating line 90% of the time.

Within rivers there are three types of water to look for:

  • Riffles are shallower water areas (maybe up to knee deep) where there is a lot of choppy water on the surface. These are the ‘food factories’ for trout, since they contain a lot of oxygenated water and a lot of bugs. These riffles are good places to look for trout.
  • Runs are less choppy areas of the river, where water is still running at a good pace. Runs also carry insects and therefore hold fish, although might not be as productive as riffles.
  • Pools are places where the water is calmer. Fish usually hang out in pools, not spending much energy, so they aren’t as good a fishing spot because fish aren’t as active. An exception might be a pool where a riffle runs into it.

Middle stretches of rivers section are often the best areas for fish. Upper areas might be too cold and not have enough insects, while lower areas might be too warm. The section of the Bow which is best seems to be from Calgary to Carseland, which you can tell by all the guide boats fishing this stretch. 

There are some good fishing lakes in the Crowsnest Pass. Lee Lake is a great place for catch and keep fishing. Beaver Mines Lake is another good place. Beauvais Lake has lots of rainbows and some good brown trout too, although the browns are a little more finicky to catch. Local places with good fishing include Odlum Pond has some very good aggressive fish, and so does Elbow Lake. Darren might be willing to put on a ‘fly fishing for beginners’ course for club members, if there is enough interest. As long as it’s not in bow hunting season… 

Thanks for sharing these tips Darren and thanks Dustin for keeping good notes.