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Off-Season Fishing

The Crowsnest River

Located in the Southwest corner of Alberta is a gem of a stream called the Crowsnest River. It is an intimate little river that is crossable at most points yet still holds many good sized fish. The upper sections are abundant with rainbow trout averaging 10-17 inches up to 20-23 inches, the occasional cutthroat and brook trout, and many Rocky Mountain whitefish. Beautiful slick emerald pools spill from one to another in portions of this stretch, and the tall pines hide the angler from the ever-present breeze. It is easily accesible from Hwy 3 in the Crowsnest Pass. The lower section has increasingly good fishing for native Bull trout, and lots of cutthroats and rainbows...and very rarely, brown trout. It has many fast riffles and excellent stonefly water, as well as some fantastic pools.
The Crowsnest River is quite literally full of fish from Crowsnest Lake on the BC border all the way down to the Oldman Reservoir.

Crowsnest River Fish Species:
Rainbow trout
to around 20 inches (larger ones present but very rare)
Cutthroat trout
to about 18 inches (larger ones present but very rare)
Bull trout
to 20 inches plus
Brook trout
(small) in upper sections only
Brown trout
to around 20 inches but a rare catch here
Mountain whitefish
to 20 inches

Trip Information:
You may choose between full-day or half-day (if available) walk-and-wade trips for joining us on the Crowsnest. Please see our Trip Information page for what is involved in each and current rates.
Your day will start and end in Pincher Creek, Alberta, or a meeting place en route to the river. If you do not have your own transportation, we can arrange to pick you up at the Calgary airport or your hotel--call for availability.
The Crowsnest River is an incredible river to fish, and offers many different opportunites in the same day. One minute we could be nymphing a seam that is producing numerous small fish, and the next minute we might present a dry fly to a more discerning hog sipping midges in a back eddy. Ten minutes later we might swing wet flies or streamers to fish we've spotted at the back of one of the numerous crystal-clear pools. Everything from hoppers and salmonflies to midges and nymphs, the Crowsnest offers the chance to use them all with success. The river is easily fishable and wadeable, and the scenery will be a fantastic backdrop for your day of fishing here.
The average Crowsnest rainbow trout is in the 14-17 inch range, with a good number of 18-19 inch fish, though there are numerous smaller bows ensuring the future of this wonderful fishery as well. Fish in the true 20in class and larger are quite rare here, but in the 2005 and 2006 seasons a few different clients landed fish of 21in, and in 2004 we landed the largest rainbow we've have seen to date from this river at 23.5in. The river also holds some Bull trout in the section below the falls, and they can reach lengths of 30 inches, though a more common bull trout from the Crowsnest would be 20-25in. Numerous small fish will keep you entertained as well, and are a welcome treat when the big ones aren't taking.
Almost every trip down to the Crowsnest in the past two seasons resulted in good action and more than 30 fish landed. Lots of little guys and some really nice fish too! The main attraction is the rainbows, and I don't think you'll find many who would not agree that this river holds some of the prettiest rainbow trout anywhere. Also available in the river to a lesser extent are Browns (mainly below the falls), Brookies (uppermost stretches), Cutthroats, and even a few Lake trout have surprised anglers over the years.

Crowsnest River with Turtle Mtn in background

Autumn Crowsnest rainbow

Wild roses on the banks of the Crowsnest

Short-sticking a seam for active rainbows

Wild male Crowsnest rainbow

Big bugs grow big trout!

22in Crowsnest River hog

Lundbreck Falls keeps the bull trout downstream

Casting to active rainbows in the morning sun

Approaching crusing trout in a back channel

A classically beautiful trout stream

The Frank stretch with Crowsnest Mtn

What You Need to Bring:
Please see our Trip Information page for what we provide during your trip. This speaks to those incidentals that help make your trip more enjoyable.
- hat
- headlamp or small clip-on flashlight
- camera
- sunscreen
- bug spray
- polarized glasses
- wind/rain/wading jacket
- hydration pack

Recommended Gear:
You are welcome to bring your own rod(s) and reel(s), flies, vest, etc. but keep in mind that we are pleased to offer the use of Loop fly rods with matching reels and line as well as all flies and terminal tackle you require.
4-5wt Fly Rod with floating line (you may prefer a 5/6wt rig if we are experiencing strong winds which frequent this river)
A 9ft 5X leader is usually all you need, though we may recommend adding length and stepping down to 6X if the fish are being selective.
See Our Flies and Hatch Charts for recommended flies
Waders & Boots:
Breathable CHEST waders are highly recommended coupled with supportive, felt-soled wading boots. If you do not own such they can be rented reasonably from one of my favorite local flyshops.

Reports and Pictures from Recent Crowsnest River Trips:
Click below to view a current Crowsnest River fishing report along with pictures from our recent trips.

Click here for Crowsnest River Reports & Pictures