By Kurt Lindberg
The Oldman River system originates on the eastern slopes of Southern
Alberta's Rocky Mountains about 2 hours southwest of Calgary. Its
course takes it east to its eventual confluence with the Bow River
to form the South Saskatchewan River miles away on the prairies
of eastern Alberta.
The portion most frequented for fly-fishing starts in the mountains
and extends nearly to the town of Fort McLeod. The upper section
that flows through the foothills contains mainly eager native cutthroat
trout and the territorial bull trout with a few whitefish scattered
throughout. There are many tributaries that can provide hours of
solitude and dry-fly fishing for the relatively small sized cutthroat
that live there.
The main river contains the larger fish, very eager to come up
for large attractor dry flies. This is also the case with its main
tributary, the Livingston River, which is all catch and release.
These regulations have proven successful as the Livingston produces
cutthroats in the 14-18 inch range, which is about maximum for this
high altitude, pristine water resident. For the most part, the upper
section is easily wade-able and has a variety of water types, from
splashing riffles and deeply gouged runs to slow crystal-clear pools.
The Oldman turns east at the Livingston Gap, a mass of rugged rock
that towers over the river on both sides, and this is where you
start catching predominately feisty rainbows. Here, the scenery
changes from spruce covered hillsides to rolling grassy ranchlands.
The lower portion of the river is an up and coming tail-water fishery,
which is starting to produce good numbers of acrobatic, hard fighting
rainbows. The dam was completed just over ten years ago and the
fishery has recently become known as a worth-while destination.
Access to the upper and middle sections is via the Forestry Trunk
Road and Highway 22, while access for the lower portion is from
Highway 3 and the various rural roads in the area. This is my personal
favorite river system. It is quickly becoming a destination for
people from outside of the immediate area to fish the miles and
miles of trout filled waters.
For more information, contact us:
Flyfish Ventures Alberta
Rivers and Lakes
The Bow River
The Crowsnest River