Photo from Justin Swan @flyfisher506.

WOT 71: The Bow River and Fishing the Hard Days with Paula Shearer.

In this episode we Wadeoutthere with Paula Shearer from Calgary Alberta.  Paula has been fly fishing since before she was sneaking away during high school to hit the water solo and began guiding on the Bow River after pursuing competitive sports. We discuss:

  • The Bow River.
  • Reading water on big rivers.
  • How to approach fly fishing during windy, cold, and high water conditions.

** NOTE** Podcast episode and upcoming guests appear at the end of this short article.

Subscribers have access to submit questions for future guests.

We tend to plan our trips to the river when the weather is good.  Why wouldn’t we?  If the goal is to catch fish, it sure is a lot easier to do when mother nature is on our side.  But what happens when the weather does not cooperate?

What happens when we show up to fish dries on the Provo River in August and the dam is generating and flows are up?  When it dumps snow in April in Montana (shocker I know)  and the Bitterroot is high and dirty?  When fires in the canyon force you to fish the upper Yakima and it is so windy it’s tough to even row a straight line?  Or when you finally move the family to the mountains, and your first season fishing home waters is a snowy, frigid winter?  The weather, like the fish, always gets a vote.  Looking back on those fly fishing adventures, I sure wish I had some of the knowledge that Paula shared with me on this podcast.

Paula is a hard core fly angler.  She fishes the Bow River through some tough conditions up in Alberta. High water.  Wind.  And cold, cold winters. Sure, the weather is not always difficult on the Bow. There are plenty of great days as well. But it helps to be ready for the “not great days” if we want to catch fish, which is what Paula has made a career of as a full time guide.

In this podcast episode, Paula shares many of her rules of thumb for meeting some of the challenging fishing she sees on the Bow and explains why the hard days on the river make us all better anglers.

Key Takeaways.

  • The primary species on the Bow River are rainbows and browns but ther are also whitefish, pike, suckers, bull trout, and burbot depending on the section.
  • If you report poachers on the Bow River and they get caught and charged you earn a reward. 
  • The Bow is artificial lures and catch and release only. 
  • The Bow River can be fished wading or from a drift boat. 
  • Reading water on the bow river is key to catching fish.
  • Reading bigger water can be simplified by breaking it down into smaller manageable parts and only looking as far as you can cast. 
  • San juan worms, leeches, prince nymphs, copper johns, and pheasant tails (caddis larvae) are good flies on the Bow.
  • Leeches can be swung, stripped, or nymphed.
  • Caddis, hoppers, stoneflies, and BWOs are also good flies.
  • Dont be afraid to fail on the bow, those are the days you can try different things.
  • To stay safe in high water or cold and icy conditions, “Don’t go where you don’t know.”
  • On windy days find sections that have landscapes that will help block the wind.
  • Tight loops helps when casting in the wind.

Learn More.

If you want to find out more about Paula or schedule a guided trip on the Bow River visit:

If you want more information on some of the topics we discussed try reading these blog posts from Wadeoutthere:

READ: WADEOUTTHERE | The Perfect Cast is Overrated.
READ: WADEOUTTHERE | Don’t Fear the Skunk. Part 1 of 2. It Happens.
READ: WADEOUTTHERE | The Two Best Times for Experimenting on the River.
READ: WADEOUTTHERE | Techniques for Casting “With” the Wind.

Upcoming Podcast Guests.

  • Josh Miller – Euro Nymphing and competition fly fishing
  • Shyanne Orvis – Colorado
  • Allison Helen Hendricks – Wyoming | Traveling guide | Casting
  • Rachel Leinweber – Anglers Covey Fly Shop | South Platte River, CO
  • Cameron Cushman – Wild Trout | Veterans
  • Marina Gibson – Fly fishing in the UK
  • Colton McLaren – Colorado River
  • Anthony Jenca – Arizona | Eastern Sierra hiking

Subscribers – Ask a Question on the Podcast.

If you have a question for an upcoming guest, I would love to hear from you. I will ask questions from Wadeoutthere subscribers towards the end of the conversation during “Wadeoutthere Wants to Know.”

If you enjoy the Wadeoutthere Fly Fishing Podcast, and want to help it grow, please leave a rating and review.

I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed talking with Paula.


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Jason Shemchuk

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