Flood damage has some anglers worried about this spring

Spring is approaching fast, and for campers, outdoorsmen and anglers, it is a highly anticipated season.

But the June, 2013 flood left a lot of Southern Alberta’s beloved landscapes and rivers forever changed, a situation that has some fly fishers concerned.

“The flood last year had a large impact on our season,” Chris Martinson, manager at Bow River Troutfitters, said in an interview.

“Our guides had to learn a whole new river.”

The downtown fly-fishing shop had to close for several days in late June, due to the flood, but Martinson said the interest in angling doesn’t seem to be down at all.

“It was more that people’s priorities changed,” he said.

“Calgary is an anomaly when it comes to the world of fly fishing. There is a high percentage of anglers who participate in fly fishing if you were to compare Calgary to other cities.”

He attributed the interest to the fact so many good streams are near Calgary.

Bruce Masterman, an avid fly-fisher in Alberta for the past 36 years, has also noticed a change to the river systems.

“I discovered the river had changed considerably,” Masterman said of the Highwood, which overflowed its banks last June, heavily damaging his hometown of High River, Alta.

“It had found new channels, and new pools and rapids had been formed. I had to learn familiar stretches all over again,” Masterman said in an interview.

“The riverbank is cluttered with many fallen trees that the flood washed away.

“The fallen trees make it difficult to get around, but also provide great hiding places for the trout, where they feel safe while feeding and resting.”

One main concern that the Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development had in July of 2013, was the unknown impact the floods had on the number of fish in various waters around Alberta.

“Calgary is an anomaly when it comes to the world of fly fishing. There is a high percentage of anglers who participate in fly fishing if you were to compare Calgary to other cities.”- Chris Martinson, manager at Bow River Troutfitters.

In order to help preserve and aid in the recovery of fish, they urged anglers to voluntarily release all fish caught from certain flowing waters for the 2013 and 2014 fishing seasons.

The department will be conducting surveys of fish populations, in order to better understand the situation, but maintain that anglers will always have an important role in preserving fish populations.

“The flood can be good for the river system as well. It can leave a cleaner stream bed which can be better for spawning fish to lay their eggs,” said Martinson.

This season will be the first real opportunity for passionate anglers to observe just how, one-year after the record-breaking flood, the fish population in Alberta has truly been affected.

Bruce Masterman believes the fish are adaptable and was shocked to see that trout numbers had not been noticeably affected last summer.

“The fish are surprisingly resilient and find new places to live and feed. They weren’t all flushed downstream into the Bow River as many people feared had happened,” he said.

“The flood changed the fishing, but by no means did it destroy it.”

About Alexandra Broger 4 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Alexandra Broger worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2013-2014 academic year.