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Dry Fly Fishing At It's Finest

A new resident takes to the Elk River to try fly fishing...

Spending the last few summers in Fernie encouraged me to start fly fishing. Coming from a coastal town where fishing always involved bait and sinkers, I was relatively clueless to the art of fly fishing. Landing a big fish always makes your day rewarding, but spending hours on the banks of the Elk cooling off during the summer months, even without catching fish, was something I looked forward to.

It wasn’t uncommon to see a drift boat pass by while excited people netted fish out of the same stretch of water I had been casting into for the last hour without any luck. Accepting the fact that I didn’t have much of an idea what I was doing, a day of guided fishing from a drift boat had always been high on the list of things to do. When this day finally came, it was better than I could have ever imagined.

Elk River Guiding Company were the outfitter to take two inexperienced but keen fishers out on the water. Tyler, our guide, was tasked with the challenge of taking us fishing for the day. Showing newbies a great day fishing was something he said he enjoyed, I guess we would find out!

“Mend to the left, hit that foam line again, don’t forget to mend to the left, FISH! Nearly, try again…”

For someone who hadn’t caught many fish or had the practice, this was the best way to fine tune my skills. I was already having a ball just seeing countless fish strike my fly as it bobbed down the feed lines. After missing another chance to set the hook I turned to Tyler to see where I was going wrong.

“Everything looks good, you were just about 10 seconds too slow,” he said with an encouraging cheeky smile.

Eventually, I set the hook and my first Westslope Cutthroat was caught from a drift boat on the Elk River!

Once you have caught one, you want to keep catching more. The excitement of fighting a fish from the boat as you float down the river is a great experience. Drifting the long stretch from Morrissey to Elko, we fished countless gravel bars, log jams and undercut river banks as Tyler searched for the best chance to land our next catch! Tyler sure had his work cut out for him! Everything from fly changes, untangling crossed lines, giving us expert instruction and rowing the boat, he still managed to give us a fishing experience of a lifetime.

If the fish are feeding, Elk River Guiding Company will make sure you catch fish! From boat launch to the take out we caught roughly 15 good sized Cutthroat and fought many more. Some lack of fish handling and hook setting definitely resulted in missed opportunities but in this pristine catch and release river, just seeing the trout was a rush.

The Elk River is famous for its premier dry fly fishing. Being a freestone river, there and countless deep pools, channels and riffles to fish. A drift boat is the best way to maximise your fishing experience, as large sections of the river are inaccessible for walk and wade fishing.

The summer fishing season in Fernie Trout Town opens on June the 15th every year and great dry fly fishing can be experienced well into October.

If you like catching fish and want to get some expert knowledge you can’t beat a day with Elk River Guiding Company. Paul and his team will look after you with guided trips, lessons, and anything else you need to know. Their full-service fly shop is a must stop for any visiting angler looking for fly advice, equipment, and river updates.

Jack Viney – Tourism Fernie


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