Fly Fishing Alberta's Fabled Bow River
Alberta’s Bow River is justifiably world famous as being known as one of the great North America trout fisheries, and the ideal location to target strong numbers of large rainbows and browns. Less well known is that portion of the Bow that flows through the Siksika/Blackfoot Indian Reserve. Beginning in the mid-80s, Eric Grinnell’s Silvertip Outfitters pioneered fishing in this area which is often referred to as “The Bow Nobody Knows”. Over thirty years later, Silvertip is still the only outfitting service regularly operating on this highly productive and under fished prairie section. Imagine floating and fishing this famous river through its valley surrounded by cottonwood flats, short grass prairie hillsides, and stunning rock cliffs. Imagine hard fighting silvery rainbows with the occasional large brown thrown into the mix. Imagine setting out for a day’s fishing from their private river access and returning to an intimate guest lodge with a gourmet supper waiting. An area that is virtually unfished, with the Bow’s most experienced guides, and less than an hour from Calgary Alberta.
Silvertip’s “Lower Bow Lodge” is located along the Bow near Carseland Alberta, just 35 miles east of Calgary and several miles upstream of the Blackfoot/Siksika Reservation. This intimate lodge accommodates up to 8 anglers (double occupancy) with ensuite bathrooms, common room, and dining room. Guests can gather around the fireplace in the evening or lounge outside at the fire pit. Couples will be happy in the queen bed suite. The “Lower Bow Lodge” is the ideal place to stay when fishing the Bow, the right combination of luxury and country solitude.
Food and Beverages
The in-house chef at the “Lower Bow Lodge” is proud of the cuisine which features Alberta beef and other fine dishes. Guests are welcomed to enjoy their own wine and liquor with dinner. A full and varied breakfast starts each day, and lunch is served streamside. All non-alcoholic beverages are supplied by the lodge.
Typical Length of Stay
Trip packages of any length can be arranged, although anglers typically fish 3 to 4 days with accommodation at the lodge from 2 to 5 nights.
Non-Angling Activities and Options
Jet boat tours through the prairie wilderness of the Blackfoot Reserve can be arranged for non-anglers and children. Enjoy a picnic lunch along the river, view the varied bird life of the rich valley and pick up ancient buffalo bones on the gravel bars. Shopping in the cosmopolitan city of Calgary is 45 minutes away, the badlands of Dinosaur Provincial Park are an hour and a half away, and the Royal Tyrrell dinosaur museum in Drumheller is about an hour and a half away. Many visitors to Calgary also include a visit to the mountains of Banff National Park and Lake Louise which is 90 miles west of Calgary.
Internet / Communications
Wi-Fi is available at the Lodge and there is good cell phone coverage.
How To Get There
Calgary International Airport (YYC) is served by most major airlines with easy and often direct flights from many American cities. The Lodge is located 45 minutes east of Calgary, near Carseland. Silvertip does not provide transportation so you will want to rent a car.
Arrival and Departure Details / Times
It is recommended that guests arriving in Calgary by air rent a vehicle to arrive at the Lodge. Guests may opt to spend the arrival night in Calgary or to arrive at the Lodge prior to their first-day fishing. The same option is available on departure, either staying the night at the Lodge or returning to Calgary prior to air departure. Silvertip recommends the Delta Calgary South if staying in Calgary. It is the closest luxury hotel to the fishing on the Bow, and close to three fly shops. Please call Yellow Dog for directions to the Lodge.
Recent changes in U.S. law require all people to present a passport when entering or re-entering the U.S. from Canada by car unless they have other appropriate documentation. Canadian law requires all persons entering Canada from the U.S. by car present proof of citizenship and identity. A passport fulfills both of these requirements for U.S. citizens. An Alberta fishing license is required to fish and we so suggest getting your license online prior to your trip. The license may be obtained online at https://www.albertarelm.com/licensing.page.
Drunk Driving or other Criminal Record
Anyone with a criminal record (including a drunk driving conviction) may be excluded from Canada. A waiver of exclusion may be issued, but several weeks are required and a processing fee must be paid. Contact the Canadian Embassy or a Canadian Consulate in the U.S. for more information.
Yellow Dog works directly with and recommends Kanna Travel. They can assist with airline tickets, hotels, transfers and all travel logistics for every destination that we offer. Contact them at 855-739-3139 or [email protected] for more details on airfare ticketing, travel services and trip insurance.
Silvertip Outfitters specializes in fishing “The Bow Nobody Knows” – a section of the Bow River unknown to most anglers, with almost negligible fishing pressure. The 35-mile stretch of the Bow from Calgary downstream to the weir at Carseland is well-known and heavily used by guides and local anglers. Downstream of the weir, however, the Bow flows through private property for about five miles then enters the Blackfoot-Siksika Indian Reserve, remaining within the Reserve boundaries for nearly 100 river miles. There is one public boat access just below the weir, and no additional public access downstream of that. Silvertip Outfitters uses jet drive-equipped boats to access this area of the Bow, returning each evening to the lodge. Using the jet boats allows for a great deal of flexibility and fishing diversity, and typically anglers are fishing different water each day of their trip. The key to success is always a great guide, and Silvertip has some of the most experienced guides on the river.
Many experienced anglers will argue that the Bow River’s rainbow trout are the hardest fighting strain in all of North America. Fish average 15 to 17 inches and have been caught to up to 28 inches. Brown trout make up only about ten percent of the catch, but they too can reach lengths approaching 30 inches. Silvertip Outfitters offers a unique opportunity to fish for these trout on a piece of river that receives very little pressure. The river also has a population of pike, and fishing for them can be very good depending on conditions. The season usually starts in early July after runoff and continues through September. July offers great fishing on streamers and stoneflies, with evening caddis hatches. Hopper patterns and hoppers with nymph droppers work well August through September. The fall months bring very good hatches of Blue Winged Olives and tricos, bringing up some very nice fish. The river offers good consistent dry fly fishing throughout the summer, with the potential to take a 20-inch fish on a dry most days. Nymphing and streamer fishing is productive at any time. You can expect a mix of fishing from the boat and wading.
When conditions dictate it may be preferable to fish the Bow upstream of the Carseland weir. Silvertip guides are equipped with drift boats and the experience to fish this stretch of river. As well, Silvertip Outfitters guides other southern Alberta waters including the Waterton and Oldman Rivers. The Oldman River below the Oldman dam is a floatable tailwater with large feisty rainbows. Silvertip can create a custom package that might include the Oldman, Waterton, and Crowsnest rivers, all close together and about two and one-half hours south of Calgary.
Boats and Equipment
Silvertip Outfitters utilizes 16-foot drift or jon boats equipped with jet drive engines. These boats are roomy and comfortable and fully set up for drift fishing. The use of power boats allows anglers to drift as little or as much as they wish during the day. Guides will also provide high-quality rods and reels if needed at no charge. Although guides are happy to share their favorite flies, Silvertip Outfitters encourages a visit to one of the fly shops in Calgary to ensure that anglers have their own supply of the right flies. They also recommend that anglers bring several rods of their own as they wish for use throughout the day. Loaner rods and reels are available at the lodge at no charge, and flies are available for sale.
Remember that Yellow Dog’s services are completely free! When you book a trip with Yellow Dog, you never pay more than when you book directly with the lodge or outfitter. All prices listed below are per person and based on double occupancy in the room and with the guide. Trips of any length of stay can be arranged, so please call Yellow Dog for details and custom package pricing. Prices below are quoted in US dollars.
1 Night / 2 Fishing Days = $800.00
2 Nights / 3 Fishing Days =$1,262.50
3 Nights / 4 Fishing Days = $1,675.00
4 Nights / 5 Fishing Days = $2,037.50
- All accommodations and meals at the Lower Bow Lodge as specified
- Lunch on the river and all non-alcoholic beverages
- Fully guided fishing each day
- Use of quality rods and reels if needed
- All tackle and flies
What’s Not Included:
- Transportation from original destination to the Lower Bow River Lodge
- Alberta fishing license
- Alcoholic beverages (BYO)
- Gratuities for guides and lodge staff
- Waders and boots (if needed)
Bow River Day Trip Pricing
Available for ANY section of the River..
Two (2) anglers per boat =$475.00
Single Angler per boat = $575.00