I’m sure everyone who is planning a trip to the Fernie area this season is interested to hear what we at Elk River Guiding think the rivers are going to do. Keep in mind we are not professional river forecasters, but when some of our key guides have been around the valley for more than 20 years in the fishing and snow industry we have a pretty good handle on what’s going on. In reality we are like a bunch of farmers who gather at the coffee shop and bullsh#t about the season ahead and of course, everyone has a different opinion. Luckily I have the ability to listen to them all and combined with my own experience come up with a prediction that would satisfy most Fly Anglers to the point where they can plan their upcoming adventures for the 2016 season.
The past winter in the Elk valley saw a 100% of average snow pack. It was a good year on the ski hill as well as in the back country. In fact, by April 1st we still had 98% of the snow pack for that time of year. However, April turned out to be a very warm month and by May 1st we fell to 49% snowpack for that date. The benefit of this burst of unseasonably warm weather created exceptional still water fishing well ahead of schedule. Nonetheless, I don’t think the snowpack will have a major influence on our freshet as most is now gone aside from some high alpine snow that is hanging on with a return to average temperatures in May. (note the part about excetional still water fishing. let us take you out on the lakes for some big rainbows....call the shop!)
Elk River Run Off
We have had a few bursts of discharge in the past few months with unseasonably warm spells to assist a faster snow melt but not anything above 160 m³/sec. Recent rains have seen another peak at about 140 m³ /sec but the cooler temps have kept it at that level. Unless we get another hot spell, or an unusual amount of rain, run off should peak around June 6th and then start a decline to a fishable river opener on June 15th. The only unknown is rainfall and how much we will get as this could delay the start but we are optimistic we will be Fishing mid-June. If not clean water with dries, we will be chasing some Bull trout!
This winter gave us ample opportunity to fish each month with February and March being exceptional. In fact the last two weeks of March were so mild that we had some great drift boat days and even some decent dry fly days! Keep this in mind if we experience another mild March as we are more than likely going to be on the water with trips available. The Kootenay caught us by surprise as well, as the best days were late February and March and our usual trips in April were a bust with dirty water and unexpected early run-off, so those who missed out on the Bull Trout Safari will need to re book for October this fall. This said the Cutthroat and Bulls we caught were in great shape so the mild winter treated them well.
This year working out of the shop you will see a return of all our regular guides as they love what they do! However, Our longest standing Elk River Guide has retired….sort of…. Louis Cloutier has decided to put the oars away after being a fixture on the river for more years that he will admit. He will still help the shop staff and will be part of our learn to fly fish team as it would be tough to get him out of guiding cold turkey! The other notable change will be with Jim “the Jaguar” Melenka who will be leaving the valley and will be truly missed at ERGC. To fill the gaps we have Sean McCullough who has been with us part time the past 8 years but now has a much freer schedule. Also joining us will be Zach Southgate and Aaron Caldwell who have both spent years on southern Alberta waters as well as the Elk River.
This is the year to come to Fernie and now is the time to plan a trip. Let us at Elk River Guiding Company help you organize your next great angling adventure!