Spring’s Warming up the Elk River in Fernie BC

Posted on Posted in Rivers

A stone’s throw from Calgary is the skiing hotspot of Fernie BC. But when the snow melts, those sparkling creeks feed a fly fishing paradise.

The peak of the spring runoff is slowing down, and high fast water is now subsiding into lazier patterns, a great breeding ground for insects of all kinds. The ducklings and goslings are emerging for their first forays into slower pools (we saw some Canada geese crossing our rural highway with their toddlers just the other day), and you can bet the fish are enjoying the hatch just as much.

One of the reasons the insects do so well is the clean, mineral rich water. The surrounding Rockies are home to some of Canada’s most inspiring national Parks: Kootenay, Yoho and Banff. High in the alpine, the Elk lakes are where the river is born and as it drains the snow from the surrounding peaks, it’s saturated with oxygen and enlivened with nutrients.

One of our friends has a theory about the prime river temperatures that get the fish feeding. He thinks that the fish respond mostly to the change in temperature, and that as things warm up they get excited and active, feeding heavily. If the average temperatures are dropping, the fish go off their feed. This means that the same water temperature can have two completely different effects.

What that means on the Elk River, is that June is the beginning of the prime season for fly fishing.  The water’s warming up, it’s fresh and the nymphs are plentiful and busy. It’s an incredible breeding ground for blue winged olives, caddis, PMDs, grasshoppers, golden stones and yellow sallies. The cutthroat, bull trout and whitefish are actively feeding and our guide Curtis is getting out there with clients to reveal the secrets of the river.

Listen to how one venerable writer at Wikipedia describes the Elk River:

The fishing in the Elk River is known to be some of the best fly-fishing in North America, with greedy, large, wild cutthroat and bull trout aplenty.

The Calgary Herald also endorsed Fernie’s vacation cred this week.

What are you up to this weekend? Book a fly fishing guide who can take you to the best spots on the river.