2016 year in review and a look at 2017
I want to first start off by thanking all of the new clients who made the choice to give us a try in 2016. I know many of you have already booked again for 2017. I have to say that last year was probably the best fishing I've seen on the Elk River and our other surrounding waters in five years. The guides really had a lot of fun this year, pretty easy when the conditions stay great all year. Most of our clients have been fishing with us for 10-15 years and you guys keep coming back. We appreciate it so much. It's always great to see old friends and we will keep exploring new waters for you.
Our season in Canada began early with trips on the Bow River in Alberta and the Oldman River also in Alberta. May turned out to be one of the best months of the year. I got out myself in April on the Oldman River just to check it out. I was blown away by the dry fly fishing that I experienced and no one was on the water. Rising fish everywhere and when other places are experiencing high water conditions due to run off this tail water is perfect. As many of you know the combination of fishing the Elk River in British Columbia and many of our streams in Alberta really make for an exciting trip out west. The Oldman River has really consistent hatches. We find pods of rising every day of this river. The last couple years I have really fallen for this stream. I'm probably spending half of my guiding days a year now on this river. The powerful browns and rainbows never seem to disappoint.
We also fish a couple other streams this time of year. The St. Mary River in Alberta and the Waterton are both close. These streams are some of the best in the world but the season is very short. Some years the window to fish these trophy waters is less than a month. We fill up fast and if you are looking for a trip like this give us a call to look at the prime dates. We run both drift boats and jet boats on these waters and prime time is June 15th to July 15th.
In 2016 our trips on the Elk River in British Columbia began in mid June. While the Oldman and the St. Mary were also on our hit list we added some days on the Waterton River in Alberta and the Bull River in B.C. This is the time of year that all our guides are either fishing or guiding. We are totally up to date on whats going on out there. None of our guides are stuck in a shop!
The Elk River started out hot this year with world class dry fly fishing. Our golden stone fly hatch came right on schedule and these huge bugs that normally last a month did not disappoint. We chased the hatch upstream on the Elk right into August. We also found PMD hatches and green drakes hatches on the Elk River that seemed to come out every single afternoon. All of our guides were reporting simply amazing days out there and that sure makes every trip enjoyable to be on.
Another thing that a lot of people don't realize is that August is one of our best months. While most of the rivers in Montana and Idaho are too warm to fish we are just far enough north that our waters remain cool. I always say we have a short season in Fernie but it's a really good one. When the drought is on in Montana just look to the north.
With an average snow pack and a nice warm spring we also found great fly fishing early on our smaller rivers such as the Bull River and the Wigwam River both located in British Columbia near Fernie. As many of you know these are limited access waters and you need to book very early for these waters. The Wigwam River fished well all season. Our walk and wade guide Dean Richard honestly never had a bad day out there. We are really lucky to have Dean on our staff here at Home Waters. Dean loves these little streams in British Columbia. If he's not booked with clients he literally fishes everyday. We have 12 different walk and wade waters within an hours drive of Fernie and no one knows these like Dean. Water levels in 2016 were prime for dry fly fishing on all of these smaller streams. Every year we discover new spots and 2017 will be no different.
In 2017 I think its going to more important than ever to plan your trip ahead of time. A lot of our clients that make the journey to Fernie for a week or so may only book us as guides for 3-4 days. Since many of our waters such as the Wigwam River and Michel Creek are limited access you need to buy your daily license early. Most of the days are sold out in March. If you are planning a trip give us a call so we can walk you through the process.
In 2016 we also started fishing some new areas on the Elk River. Most of the guides out of Fernie stick close to town and only fish a couple different stretches. We now have 11 different floats that we hit on a regular basis. While most of the guides that work for the shops are just doing the easy economical floats our guides are really going the extra mile. Some of our new floats are a little rough on the boats and shuttles are difficult but it's worth it at the end of the day when you have the river to yourself.
Trout numbers in the Elk River in 2016 were the best we have seen in several years. Our class of trout in the 3-4 year range was excellent and that leads us to believe that 2017 will be another great year on the Elk.
The Oldman River where we spend a lot of time was also a year to remember. The brown trout numbers increased by 300 percent. It was a lot of fun over there. We had many days where we would catch 10-20 brown trout per boat. Rainbow numbers stayed high as well and as many of you know the Oldman River is quite simply my favorite river in the world. It never ceases to amaze me. The season on the Oldman River runs from April to November with really good dry fly fishing found just about everyday.
I can't wait to see what 2017 will bring on our waters and I hope to share it with you.