Oct 22

Alexander’s Float Fishing Adventures On The Bow River

Large Bow River Rainbow

A Young Man’s Bragging Rights

According to Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “The soul is healed by being with children.” I also love this old quote which states “May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” Rest assured there is no holding back, no reservations of any kind. The morning of our trip Alexander informed me, “I love to watch videos and learn all I can about fishing- as he pulled his fly box from his pocket. These flies I tied myself after watching YouTube videos. I love to learn everything I can about fishing” he stated with passion and conviction. As a father of two offspring myself, It is always a blessing to have children out fishing with me. It reminds me of when I was a child getting up early at sunrise and heading out fishing with my grandfather. I can clearly remember how enthusiastic I felt at the possibility I was going to catch some trout! Now as a daddy, I get to pass on the lessons my grandfather taught with me when I was a young child. When I know I have a young client about to fish the river with me, I get extremely excited to pass on my knowledge to them.

Two weeks past, it was my honor and pleasure to have a father and son out fishing the Bow River on a guided float trip from Policeman’s Flats to MacKinnon Flats. Alexander, the son was extremely excited for his chance to fish the river. I had been in communication with Alexander’s mother prior to the trip and she stated Alex was extremely excited for his shot at some Bow River trout. Her message  “My son is SUPER excited and October will feel like a thousand days away, so if something becomes available earlier, then we’d love to be considered for it”.

Alex and his father Steve met me on a chilly Saturday morning. Alexander leapt out of dad’s vehicle quickly grabbing his gear from the back of the van; it was very apparent that this 13 year old young man was on a mission. I introduced myself to Alex and his father but soon got the feeling this was less about the coffee and more about the fish. We quickly loaded the car and headed off onto the highway. I tied the hooks; loaded the boat up and off we went. After our trip was over Alex wrote his uncle in Ontario to let him know just how much he loved the trip. I asked his mother if I could use his story here on the Blog, I want Alex to know just how much I enjoyed his company and what a special young man I think he is.

Here is his letter to his uncle:

Hey Uncle Billy, the fishing trip was soooooooooooo much fun!!! We caught 9 fish in total, I caught 6, dad caught 2, and the guide caught 1!  At the very beginning of our trip, on the first cast, dad brought in a nice brown trout. Then not 5 minutes later I got a 17″ rainbow. We floated a bit longer while casting into the banks and seams when something hit my lure and then I felt this big tug and set the hook. It jumped immediately and we got a really good look at the pinkish reflection which told us it was a rainbow, and a big one. I got it to the boat and it jumped again, by this time we could see it in the water and it was a monster! We got the fish netted and it was 24″ long! The next fish I caught was a one-eyed brown trout, it literally only had one eye, and it was a decent size too, maybe 16-17″.

Fall fishing the Bow River September 2012

Then we fell into a slump. About an hour later we were coming around this rocky out-cropping and the guide told me to cast into this seam that was just beside the bank. That’s when the next one hit. It was the one in the picture and it was 25″ long! The reason the guide is holding my fish was because he wanted to take the hook out before any further handling of the fish, and this was not the biggest fish of the day. Then the guide, Mike, got a really nice rainbow on the end of his line, and it measured at 22″. At this time, dad caught his second fish which was a 16″ brownie. Then I got a massive hit on the end of the line, then, a really large tug. That’s when I set the hook to make sure I had him! It was the longest I had ever taken to get a fish to the dock or boat – it took about 30 seconds which, for trout, is a pretty long time. We got it into the boat and I was really happy! It clocked out at about 5.7lbs, and 27″ long!!! I’ll try to send you the picture later because we haven’t downloaded it yet. That was the last, and the biggest fish we caught all day.

A dence fog rises along the river banks of the Bow River

All the fish pulled and a few of the bigger ones all took really good runs, and jumps. The morning started out really cold and there was a dense fog, but then at about 10 o’clock it started to warm up and it was fine. We had all our success on crank baits that were colored to imitate a new-born brown, or rainbow trout. You guys really need to come out to Calgary again, and we will try to get in a big float down the bow and I’ll try to show you the seams, over-hangs and all the other places where the fish are hiding so we can try to get them out of hiding and into the boat. Overall I would rate the trip a 20 out of 10! I really want to go again next year”!

I would like to acknowledge that I too had, “SOOOOOOOOO much fun”. Before the day began, I had a plan devised for Alex; what lures I was going to tie up for him and which stretch of the river we were going to float. Some days the plan falls through and the fish don’t co-operate but days like the day Alex, his father and I fished, THEY DID.

The reason why I became a fishing guide is to watch children like Alexander smile from ear to ear, to see a child feel the rush of a Bow River bullet peeling line and making that reel scream. I can honestly say that each and every time I step into the boat, the feelings of the young child inside me comes out! I smile and giggle just like when I was 10 with grandpa fishing the banks of the Bow River. A big heartfelt thank you to Alexander for letting me post his story here, I am already looking forward to fishing with you again next year kiddo!


  1. Dwayne Parsons

    Great photos and lovely story. I was a boy once too and know how important and how long lasting such experience can be in influencing our future sportsmen and conservationists. Really a fine article, and I recognize the boat launch in the 3rd photo because I once stood on that same spot with you as my guide.

  2. Mike Robertson

    Thanks Mr Parsons. I wanted to pay a tribute to Alex and his father for choosing me as their guide for the day. Alex told me he was going through a slump the past few months. He had fished quite a few times with no hook ups. It was a blessing to see his dad land a nice brown on his first cast. Then Alex started banging into fish like a real pro; making pin-point casts with precise execution. It is no wonder why you see the images you see here in this post.

    Super grateful I am blessed to see these trout landed month after month and to meet new friends year after year.

    Thanks so much for the comment Dwayne.


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