Fishing The Bow – Calgary Alberta.

So many fishermen come to Calgary, Alberta to fish the blue ribbon Bow River for Brown and Rainbow trout. Not only does Calgary have excellent fishing on the Bow River, it is one of the most beautiful places in Canada to visit. With the Rocky Mountains only a forty five minute drive away, Calgary is the perfect place for any outdoors man or woman to spend a vacation. The great fishing does not end in the city of Calgary on the Bow River.

There are many fantastic destinations in Banff, Canmore, Lake Louise and all over Kananaskis country to catch whatever species of trout you’re looking for. The Bow River forms in the Rocky Mountains of Banff National Park in southwestern Alberta and flows eastward 144 kilometers or 90 miles to the city of Calgary. Bow Lake, out of which the Bow River forms, is a beautiful, cold high mountain lake that is located north of Lake Louise. Bow Lake is fed by the Bow Glacier and some other small channels that drain off the Mountains into the lake.

The river gets bigger and moves slower as it leaves the mountains. The people that make use of the Bow River system are as diverse as the landscape the river flows through. The upper stretches of the Bow River which flows through Banff National Park is one of the most beautiful mountain settings in the world which attracts millions of visitors each year, from the experienced outdoor types who hike and mountain climb to the people who take advantage of the Bow valley’s world class canoeing, kayaking, skiing, and hunting!


Alberta’s hunting community plays a crucial function in wildlife managing in the province. It is important that hunters continue a tradition of responsible hunting practices while keeping well informed about current hunting regulations and requirements. If in doubt of the hunting regulations, refer to the Alberta Hunting regulations guide. There is hunting opportunities on more than 85 per cent of the land base in Alberta’s parks system. Hunting is a natural activity for humans. Our ancestors were hunters for thousands and thousands of years. For many people, hunting is still a family tradition. If you are new to hunting, then you might want to take hunting education course offered here hunter safety course. Not only do we hunt animals for sustenance, we are also hunters of fish as well.

There are many excellent sections of fish-able water suitable for family day trips that are found between Calgary and Carseland. The Bow River is cherished by all kinds of people for many different reasons. Personally, I am thrilled at the fact that I am able to live in such a beautiful and clean city with the Bow River being right outside my backdoor. I love to fish other rivers that are close to Calgary! One of these rivers is the Highwood River which is the major spawning stream for Bow River Rainbow trout. This river just has to be seen and fished by anyone who is visiting from out of town, as this splendid eye candy just has to be witnessed with your own two eyes!

This river holds most of the provinces sport fish which includes Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Brook Trout, Bull Trout in the upper reaches as well as Cutties and lots of Rocky Mountain Whitefish. There is no other river that is quite like the Bow River. It is hard to believe that you could be partaking in a gourmet meal in one of Calgary’s fine restaurants, and within an hour be catching some of the biggest and wildest trout available anywhere in the world.

The Bow River’s resident population of Rainbow and Brown trout have one of the best growth rates to be found on any river system in the world today. A trout that is 4 to 5 years old will be around 21 inches in length and the Bow River holds many fish that are this size or larger. This is precisely why many fishermen from all over the world choose the Bow River to fish year after year. The Bow consistently ranks up as one of greatest trout streams of the world. Every single angler owes it to himself or herself to fish it. Click here if you want to be one of them!

When you plan your next fishing trip, or if you just want to see one of the most breathtaking places on the planet, come on out and visit Calgary, Alberta Canada; you will not be disappointed!


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    • Perry on July 9, 2008 at 11:39 pm


    I recently moved to Calgary and would like to take my 7yr old fishing on the bow, but I don’t know where to go.. Please advise on some nice spots for him.. Thanks..

  1. Hi Perry, there are many places to take your son fishing on the Bow River. Glenmore Tr bridge is a good start. Upstream and downstream of this bridge can provide good fishing.

    The Ivor Strong Bridge is another one of my personal favorates, good fishing can be found up river and down river fron this spot. I usually fish the east bank of the river at this location. This bridge is located just south of Anderson and is built over the Bow River.

    Fish creek park located in the south side of Deer Run is a great place to take the family out for a picnic and a day out on the water.

    I suggest using Google Earth or Google Maps to assist in directions to these locations and several other locations alonf the river. I use these tools to find prime locations all over Alberta.

    This to me is what the sport of fishing is all about, showing a young child how fun a day out fishing can be.

    I wish you all the best and I sure hope you and your son can latch into a big fat Bow River Trout!

    Have a safe trip,


    • patrick on October 3, 2008 at 6:53 am

    I am travelling to okotoks alberta for the october long weekend and i will only have about 5 hrs to fish throughout the weekend, so the least amount of travel time to any good spots is prefered. i have heard that i think it is the sheep river that runs threw okotoks is a good river to fish. i am a begginer flyfisher and would like to hook into a couple of rainbows. any information you could giveme would be greatly appreciated.

    • Suzanne on February 13, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Great info! My 7 yr old son 7 & I are interested in learning how to fish. My husband says it will cost us about $4000.00 and we will need a boat and truck and will have to go to remote areas??? I beg to differ. We live in Calgary. Please help us with any info we need to get started. I took down the info about the local spots on the Bow, and will be heading to the library soon.
    Thanks so much,

  2. Hello Suzanne, that’s very cool that you are planning to get your 7 year old son into fishing. My 7 year old loves to fish and he will be with me this year fishing the Bow River. I hope your son enjoys fishing as much as my son does.

    As for the cost of getting set up to fish, you and your son will need a rod and a reel. Spin casting equipment can be fairly inexpensive. A rod for yourself will be 50.00-100.00 dollars. The reel for yourself will be 50.00-150.00 dollars. So the rod and reel set up for yourself is not too expensive, say 200.00 dollars for high end spin fishing gear. Here is what I suggest you buy. A Pflueger President (6740 model number) spinning reel. Then get a Berkley Series One two piece spinning rod, 6 foot 6 inch medium action. Stay away from the lower end rods as you will end up getting a better rod in a few years time anyway. You may as well get a good rod now and save the lower end rods for someone else. You will end up upgrading when you get better at fishing so go with the good stuff right from the start.

    For your son you can get him a fairly cheap rod and reel combo from Bass Pro Shop or from Wholesale sports for under 100.00 dollars. I suggest talking to the fishing staff at Wholesale or Bass Pro and see what combo’s they suggest. The rod cannot be too long for a seven year old so sometimes a smaller rod can be hard to find.

    Then you need some lures and you will be all set to fish, no boat and no truck needed. Spinners are a good lure to start out with as they will catch you and your son fish. I love Panther Martin spinners in size 9 or size 15. The 15’s may look big but they are great for fishing the Bow River where there are larger trout. If you are fishing a stocked pond or lake then maybe use a number 6 Panther Martin. If you ask a fishing staff member at Wholesale Sports to help you with colors and sizes they will know what I speak of in regards to sizes 6,9’s, 15’s.

    So I must say that 4000.00 is way off the mark in terms of starting out. There are many great stocked ponds around Calgary that you can fish and do very well. The Bow River is also a great place to go if you want to try catching some trout. Or you can book a trip with me this spring and I can teach you and your husband and son the secrets of Bow River fishing. The trip’s are either floating the lower Bow or walk and wade trips where we fish from shore along the banks of the Bow River. I will show you what lures work and how to fish them and much more.

    So I hope my reply helps you make a decision, you do not need to spend heaps of money to get into fishing. It is fairly cheep compared to other sports like golfing or hockey. If you have any other questions please feel free to ask me here on the Blog. I always love to help beginners get into this awesome sport.

    Thanks so much for your question,


    • John on March 2, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Great stuff here! I’ll be heading to Calgary in July. Just wondering if there are any other species other then Trout in Calgary? Bass, Crappies, muskies?

    Thanks Mike.

  3. Hi John, there is no Bass, Crappie or Muskies in Alberta. We have Pike, Walleye, all Trout species except sea trout of course. Rocky Mountain White Fish, Lake White Fish, etc etc.

    Fishing for trout in the Bow River is awesome in July, you might want to give the Bow River a shot.

    Thanks John and enjoy your stay in Calgary.


    • Daniel on April 26, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Hey Mike, its me again and I’m going to buy a Rapala Countdown or 2 and I can’t seem to decide what would be the best colors and size to use through out the fishing season. ( Spring, Summer and Fall) Ant tips???? Thanks – Daniel

  4. Hey Daniel, I see you were able to register and comment. Rapala Countdowns are awesome trout catchers for the Bow River. They will work for both Browns and Rainbows. I like the sized 7’s in the spring as the Rainbows spawn in the spring and that size of Rapala Countdown will match the size of the fry.

    Later in the spring I switch to a size 9 which is a little bigger as I target bigger fish with this lure. CD-9’s will also catch you smaller aggressive rainbows and browns as well. It is an all around great lure. I like colors like Brook trout, Rainbow Trout and Fire Minnow. These will work great in all seasons of the year. You can experiment with different once you try these three.

    I advise you to look through my posts and pages. Here you will find many articles on the Rapala and some other articles on how to use them.

    Thanks very much for your question. Please feel free to send me another comment when you use the lures and catch a few fish. I would be very interested in seeing a few pictures of the fish you caught with them. I also guide during the spring, summer and fall so if you would like to take a guided fishing trip down the lower Bow River, than feel free to go over to my “Guided Fishing Trip’s Page” and check out the prices there.



    • Daniel on April 26, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Thanks you Mike for the great tips and one last question before I go. Does the Brown Trout color work good too and when should I use it?

  5. Yes it does work good Daniel, you can use that color all year long. Remember browns will eat their own kind so using a brown trout colored lure is a good idea to catch browns.

    Another thing to note is the rainbows are going to make their run to spawn soon and they get very territorial once they have laid their eggs. If you rip a Rapala through their territory they will smash it to get it out of their lye.

    Thanks again for your comment Daniel.



    • Daniel on April 26, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Thank you for everything Mike and no problem. Will post a picture of the fish I catch on my new Rapala’s.

    Have A Great Year Mike and See you on the Water,


  6. You too buddy, be safe out there OK. When you see me please come and say hello. I will show you some tricks !!!

    Thanks Daniel,


    • hadad on May 19, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Hi Mike, I am following your advice to Suzanne about the fishing gear. just moved to calgary as well. i cant find the berkley rod you mentioned. maybe i got it wrong..i found the president 6740
    what about the pflueger rods?
    i am heading to beauvias lake this weekend trying my luck with browns. heard its already nice (some update from blogs today)..will try my luck anyway – can you advice me about the lures? line? weight? i am very new with freshwater fishing all my experience with sea/ocean using bait

  7. Hello there Hadad. That rod I suggested is now very hard to find. I would suggest you pick up an Abu Garcia Veritas 6’6 Medium action spinning rod. See the link here

    You will want to pick up some good quality fishing line to spool up your reel with, I suggest Berkley XT, 8lb Low Vis Green colored monofilament fishing line. That is the line I prefer but many anglers also like some of the Braided lines out there like Power Pro.

    Try using spinners like the Panther Martin size 9 or 15. #15 Panther Martins are quite big but if there are medium to large sized Brown Trout in Beauvais Lake, then they will hit them no problem. Also, I like Blue Fox spinners and Rooster Tails as well. Check the regulations before you fish!

    Thanks for the comment and your questions, good luck this weekend.


    • hadad on May 19, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    thanks for your advice Mike, really appreciate your time spent to help out..i will definitely go with your input

  8. Hey Hadad, helping out is what I like to do. The rod is dynamite. I have tested them out and they are very good. I also spoke to the Berkley rep at Bass Pro and listened as he explained how the technology sets the rod apart from other rods in the same price class.

    The reel is great as well, you will like that combo I am sure of that.

    Have a safe and happy long weekend,


    • hadad on May 23, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    thanks Mike, your advice about the Countdowns is amazing, the day was slow though but late afternoon got 8 rainbows released 4 smaller ones. the brown trout color is the one that worked
    even worked better than few guys around using bait..
    can you send me the link for your guided trips a friend of mine is interested

  9. Your very welcome Hadad, very happy to hear the Rapala’s worked well for you. I knew you would have great success with them.

    In regards to the link, you can see my pricing rates here

    Please note these rates are per boat and the boat holds two fishermen. If you and your fishing buddy were to go for the day the cost would be split in half, 212.50 per person. See this link to see what is included in the trip.

    Thanks very much, if you have pictures of your fish caught from the weekend I would love to see them. Please e-mail me a picture at


    • badlands on July 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Really excited to have discovered your site! Just wondering what is the best rod length/flexibility and line weight to catch trout from the bow. Do you use spoons at all?


  10. Hello Badlands, my personal favorite rod length and weight is 6’6 length, Medium action.

    Spoons are good for the Bow River, I do use them sometimes but not very often. I love using crankbaits on the Bow River.

    Thanks for the question, feel free to drop by anytime.



    • Rufus on July 10, 2011 at 11:50 am

    What do you think of fishing in the Bow in Montgomery or Bowness? Do people have any luck in the spots by the bridges?

    Montgomery Triangle is Awesome!!

  11. Hello Rufus, I do not fish that area of the Bow so I cannot give you any advice.

    Thanks for the comment,


    • Bobert on July 17, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Hi, are there any good panther martin lures you would reccomend using on the bow river? Im from BC and have had great luck with them there. Thanks

  12. Hello Bob, the colors I use most are silvers and golds. That is the good stuff for the Bow River. Blacks work well also. The size of spinner plays a big part in the size of fish you will catch. I use size 9’s and size 15’s. Some think I’m crazy when I show them how big those 15’s are but when they see a 20-30 inch trout on the end of one, they kinda don’t think I’m that crazy anymore!

    Good success fishing the Bow will be determined by HOW and WHERE you fish these trout slaying spinners.

    Thanks so much for commenting on the Blog.



    • Jordan on July 24, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Hey Mike,

    Im just a beginner to fly fishing and I was wondering what fly I should use, and where I should go. I just got a brand new fly rod today and can’t wait to test it out.

  13. Hi Jordan, I do not fly fish so I could not begin to tell you what to use for fly gear. Try heading over to Wholesale Sports and talking to Tyler in the fly shop. He will help you get set up with flies and so forth.



    • Chaz on August 22, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Hey Mike,
    Do you have any recommendations for areas of the Bow to fish around Banff this time of year?

  14. Hey Chaz, thanks for the question. Unfortunately I do not fish the Upper Bow near Banff so I have no recommendations for you.

    Sorry Chaz,


    • Brayden on August 30, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Hi Mike,
    love the site by the way. I was just wondering when your fishing with the countdowns, if u lift your rod tip up does i make the lure dive down or stay at the surface? and what pound test would you recommend for fishing browns in the dark?

  15. Hey Brayden, thanks for the kind words. I fish with Countdowns in all seasons of the year and at all times of the day. They work that good for me. If you lift the rod tip up while the lure is already down near the bottom, it will make the lure come upwards to the surface a bit. The Rapala Countdown is a sinking lure. If you do not reel at all the lure will sink right to the bottom of the river. Hence the name Countdown, you count it down. 1 it drops 1 foot, 2 and it has dropped two feet, 3 and it’s now three feet down and so on.

    Or if you cast it out and start to reel right away, the this will also help the lure dive to the bottom faster as the diving bill on the front of the lure assists the diving action of the lure. Once the lure is down near the bottom or has made bottom contact a few times, then with the wrist and only the wrist, lift the rod tip upwards and reel in the slack. That’s the trick Brayden !!! DO NOT use your arm to lift the tip up, ONLY the wrist.

    As per fishing line test, I ONLY use Berkley XT 8 LB test line in Low Vis Green color. That is perfect for ALL fishing conditions in the Bow River and for ALL sizes of fish. Anything over 8LB test line is overkill in my opinion. Just remember to set your drag properly BEFORE fishing. Tie a good strong knot and you will be good to go.

    Hope that answers your question Brayden.

    Cheers, hope to see you back here on the Blog soon.


    • shad richards on January 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Hey mike its shad here sat night. the weather for tommorow looks amazing so thinking of heading down to calgary to fight a few of your beautiful trouts down there. just wondering if you have been fishing lately and if your heading out tommorow. Just spent a hour reading your blogs you have a real nack for this tip of shit i really enjoy your stories and advice thank you………..Shad

  16. Hello again Shad, thanks for the kind words. I have not been out lately as we have had colder weather here lately. I am hoping to fish tomorrow but I have a bunch of chores to do around the house so I seriously doubt I will be able to break away for even an hour on the river.

    Were you looking to take a guided trip with me or were you just planning on coming down to fish the river for the day?

    Please let me know what your plans are,

    Thanks Shad,


    • Doug on February 2, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Hi Mike, just came on to your blog, and seems like the Bow, is the place to fish near Calgary.

    Im thinking of going to Calgary in July ’12, to visit my sister, but was interested in trying some fishing while there.

    Will you direct me to your website for information regarding your guided trips, or provide info here, wrt, costs, supplies provided, length of tours, any details you feel important.

    Thanks Doug

  17. Hey Doug, I will send the info you have requested to your email address.



    • paul bitner on March 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Hello Mike,I will be visiting Calgary in april,would like to know if fishing is open,and if so how is it in april?

  18. Hey Paul, fishing is open all year long here on the Lower Bow. Fishing will be good in April with big browns being ripe for the picking.

    The river will be filled with more browns at this time as the rainbows should already be into their spawn by then. However you can still take some big rainbows then that are spawning in the Bow River itself. This can be a fun time to fish the river Paul. The river should be float-able in April so if you would like a float trip, I can make that happen for you.

    Please let me know the date you are looking to fish.



    • Cocoon on May 16, 2012 at 3:38 pm


    I’m very new to fishing. In fact, I have never fish before and thinking of starting this weekend. I always loved watching people who are fishing and always wanted to but unfortunatelly i have never had to chance to do so.
    I moved to Calgary couple of months ago and I was very happy to find out that we are allow to fish here.
    Now, I’m going for fishing this weekend but i have nothing! 🙂 and I have no idea what fishing rod, reel I should buy as I heard not all fishing rod is good for all type of fish and I think they will fine you if you use unappropiate fishing rod? So if I’m going to catch Trout(i think this is the only fish we can catch here) which fishing rod should i be buying/using? I can’t buy expensive rod so if you could let me know a decent brand with reasonable priced rods that would be perfect. Thanks alot.

    • JAY on August 12, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Hey mike! I don’t get out as much as i would like to, either way, it’s nice just to get out! but when i do, i usually go to 22x. I haven’t had luck there! I’ve tried panther w/gold-yellow and black as per the sugg. on the internet. but no luck. is the time of day that important? does it help using waders? is their any good spots walking distance down from 22x? and lastly, what is your favorite lure for that area? i don’t expect you to do my fishing for me, but my kids are starting to make fun of me for my stories of “the big one” got away!! need help soon. i’m new to your blog, but what i’ve seen, you know what your doing! good job,keep it going! thanks, jay.

  19. Hello Jay, time of day is sometimes important yes, especially on hot days. If it gets too hot, the fish will hang on the bottom and sometimes not feed. If the weather is hot, then try early mornings or late in the evening all the way till it gets dark out. Secondly, I never use waders but sometimes you need to reach deeper water, say off a bend where it is too shallow immediately below your feet right beside the bank; then you need to get out a little deeper to catch your prey. I avoid 22X bridge like the plague, too much pressure there. I like to fish where I don’t see too many people, and that is getting very rare these days!

    My favorite lures are Blue Fox spinners, Panther Martin spinners, Rapala’s, Storm, Live Target Lures, Etc but everyday is a new adventure on the river, some day’s one will work well and the next they wont touch it. I like to mix it up lots, imagine if you ate the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Same applies for the fish. Don’t be afraid to switch lures often. Some days it has nothing to do with the lure, its how it is presented to the fish, I’ve had days where they will only take it a certain way and nothing else will do. Some day’s like a hunter, you will need to find the fish Jay, here today-gone tomorrow as they say. That is the fun of fishing for me, locating my quarry and then the adrenaline rush of the catch.

    So I hope that helps address your questions and I would like to welcome to the Blog, I sure hope you enjoy the articles contained within.



    • Skyla on March 29, 2013 at 12:09 am

    hey, im under 16 and i wish to fish here but do i need a license? please help!!! -Skyla

  20. Hello Skyla, any persons under the age of 16 DO NOT need to buy an Alberta Sport Fishing Licence.

    Thanks for your question and welcome to the Blog. Feel free to ask any questions you wish here.


    • cynthia on July 7, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Is the bow or any water in calgary okay to fish in after the flood?

  21. It should be fine to fish within the next few weeks Cynthia but who really knows how many fish survived that onslaught of water we had here. My fingers and toes are crossed.


    • Alex on July 24, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Hi, I recently moved to bowness and I wanted to know if anyone has had any luck fishing by bowness post flood? Or if there is any spots recommended around the nw of calgary

    • Caleb on July 26, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve been fishing trout in Alberta and BC all my life, but I just wanted to say that I’ve learned some things I hadn’t thought of before. Thanks so much for sharing the tribal knowledge!


  22. Hello Caleb, thanks so much for posting a comment and letting us know you have gained knowledge from the content in the Blog. Hope you use it to catch a ton of fish.



  23. Hey Alex, I don’t fish in that area of the river so I cannot say what the area is fishing like. I can ask a few friends if they know any spots in the N.W. you can fish.



    • Jory on August 22, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Hey Mike,
    Been living in the Calgary area for a few years now, and finally getting myself back into fishing! Grew up in Saskatchewan where the Red Deer and the South Sask meet up, so fishing is in my blood!I’ve been using #3 and 4 spinning trebles, but never would have thought to use a crank bait or a spinner! Been fishing by the Ivor Strong bridge on the east side, but haven’t had much luck yet, just 1 small brown at about 640 am.

    Do you usually fish in stronger currents, or more calm waters? Don’t really know how to fish for trout yet, have only gone a few times before and after work. Looking forward to hopefully some more successful fishing this summer/fall with the new ideas!


    • Greg on April 17, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Hi Mike,
    Have you had any luck fishing at Harvie Passage?

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