Famous for its rainbow trout, the Crowsnest River begins at Crowsnest Lake in the Canadian Rockies near the border with British Columbia. It weaves past Crowsnest Mountain and through several towns before cascading over Lundbreck Falls and flowing into the Oldman Reservoir. The upper river above Blairmore meanders through beautiful alpine meadows with solid, grassy banks and predictable flows.
Below Blairmore there is a short stint of Stillwater created by what was to be a “temporary” blockage built in 1903. Anglers here will spot highly educated, big fish that tease you with a glance and disappear between Turtle Mountain boulders the size of trucks.
The most prized water on this blue ribbon, spring fed, freestone river, is between the towns of Bellvue and Lundbreck Falls. Here the river lies in a valley walled off by tall stands of evergreen, aspen and willow trees. From Lundbreck Falls to the Oldman Reservoir the landscape opens, the river widens and strong winds from the Crowsnest Pass register their mark on misshapen trees. In addition to rainbows, large numbers of cutthroat and bull trout appear on this stretch.
Observers and guides account for the river’s productivity by its proliferous hatches. Especially worth noting is the Salmon fly hatch in the last week of May. Named for their orange colored throats, these salmon flies migrate to the river before entering dry land, creating a wonderful opportunity for anglers.