The Oldman River is located close to the small town of Pincher Creek, Alberta (Population 3642, Elevation 3710 ft). The area we fly fished was north of the town where highway 22 crosses the Oldman River. There are roads up both sides of the river. We took the gravel road on the north side. The fly fishing can be good throughout this section, but you must find public access or ask a landowner for access. This area reminds me a lot of Montana’s Livingston area. It is just east of the Canadian Rockies as they break out into the plains. There are places with incredible mountain views. The rock structures along this section of river are some of the most beautiful and unique I have seen.
Travel: Pincher Creek is a six-and-a-half-hour drive from Spokane, Washington. We stayed at the Parkway Motel and European Lodges which was inexpensive and clean. Besides hearing great reports about the fishing, one of the reasons we chose the Oldman River was the cooler weather. Montana was in the 90’s and up in Canada it was in the upper 70’s. Much nicer trout fishing weather.
Tactics: Fishing in August and primarily for Cutthroats, we were hoping for some dry fly action and it did not disappoint. We started the day about 10 am using Parachute PMD’s, right away getting fish to rise on our offerings. Several Cutthroats were rising, making it easy for us to cast to them. The correct fly and presentation stimulated their cooperation. We found them first in a medium speed run with just a little riffle at the surface. Shortly after, we found a beautiful hole having medium to slow current coming into it. Noticing fish feeding in several locations, we began pursuing them, hooking and landing several really nice Cutthroats with the same PMD’s. By mid-afternoon we moved downstream, started using hoppers and caught a couple smaller fish. We moved back to our sweet hole, using the same PMD trailed by a soft hackle pattern. Some of these fish would come from deep in the hole all the way to the surface to take the fly. The hardest part was waiting to set the hook. It was awesome. They were very nice 13-15 inch Cutthroats and Rainbows.
Equipment: We fly fished all day with nine-foot five weight rods. We fly fished with floating lines on all rods and 9 to 12 ft poly leaders. The fluorocarbon tippets were 4X and 5X depending on the size of the dry fly and the water movement. Always wear eye protection.
How: The Oldman River at this time of year is a great DIY walk and wade trip. The water levels are low enough most years for comfortable wading in this section. We fished at both a public access spot as well as asked a private landowner and got permission to fish his property. A guide is always a good option, particularly if you are coming from a distance. If you are new to an area a local guide for at least one day can be very beneficial. We have purchased flies, materials and benefitted from great advice at The Crowsnest Angler Fly Shop and guide Service in Bellevue, Alberta a few miles from Pincher Creek. We do not get money or free materials from any of the mentioned business in this article.
Ladin finds a deep hole. :)