Anglers from Calgary speak on the benefits of fly fishing


As an angler rhythmically casts her fly line against the orange backdrop of falling leaves, it’s easy to forget the problems of the mind and the soul.

Anita Wolf, 41, has been fly fishing for seven years and is a certified casting instructor from Calgary with the Federation of Fly Fishers. According to their website, the Federation has members all over the world, working to educate, conserve and restore the sport of fly fishing.

Wolf says fly fishing is an excellent way to de-stress, decompress and detox from the stresses of everyday life.

“It helps you to focus solely on what is in the here and now,” Anita said. “It allows you to develop a habit of appreciating what’s around you and also allows you to be in places you never thought you would be.”

It was the beauty of the sport that first captured Wolf’s attention. Through lessons with the Federation of Fly Fishers, she soon gained her certification to teach others how to properly cast the line of a fly fishing reel.

“I found that [fly fishing] was very poetic. It was a very beautiful thing to watch — I tried it not knowing whether I would like it and loved it even more than I could have imagined it.”

The people she met also piqued her interest in the sport.

“It’s the people that make the journey interesting. It’s the people that give you encouragement, love and support,” Wolf says. “The people in the fly fishing industry are very unique, interesting people.”

Craig Shotton, 47, has been fly fishing since 1984, mostly in British Columbia and Alberta. Shotton has also had the opportunity to cast his fly rod in beautiful places like Belize, Costa Rica, Cuba, Labrador and Mexico.


Craig Shotton holds a brown trout that he hooked and pulled in while fly fishing on the Bow. Photo courtesy of: Craig Shotton“It’s one of those things that I make time to do,” he says. “I would sacrifice new furniture in the house to go fly fishing in some of the exotic places.”

Shotton admits that it was not easy at first but as he practiced, the process got easier. Fly fishing, Shotton says, is an activity where you never stop learning.

It’s not what you catch that makes the sport exciting but it is an added bonus, Shotton added.

“The whole idea [of fly fishing] is trying to fool the fish into eating your imitation. You can hook a fish, lose it and not be disappointed because you’ve already done the ultimate, hooking them,” he says.

The excitement of hooking a fish is not the only draw. Shotton says he also enjoys the solitude of the sport which gives him the opportunity to take his mind off of other things.

A few years ago, for two summers, Shotton had taken time off from working at the Post Office to guide for Bow River Troutfitters, which is when he met Calgary fly fishing enthusiast Carl Blomer, 50.

Like Wolf, Blomer said he has enjoyed fly fishing for the past 35 years because of the focus it requires.

On The Bow

Carl Blomer goes to the Bow often because “it’s one of the best rivers in the world,” he says.  “It’s got big fish, I know it really well and I can go places where there aren’t going to be people.”

Here are some good spots on the Bow that you can go fly fishing as suggested by Blomer:

-Between Calgary and the Carseland Irrigation Plant

-Fish Creek Park

-Southland Drive

 Blomer says that anywhere there is a bridge across the Bow there is access to good fishing.  He cautions anglers about fishing above the Bonnybrook location because there are less nutrients for fish there, making the fishing much different.

“It’s one of those things that you do where you can’t be thinking about anything else,” he says. “The environment’s you’re in are always beautiful. You can hear the water, the birds and all kinds of stuff going on. Just being out in nature is relaxing.”

Calling on years of experience, Blomer advises newcomers to the sport to take a casting lesson or to go with a friend who knows and understands the technique involved so they can avoid bad habits, like casting a fly line incorrectly.

Newcomers should also remember the importance of accuracy, Blomer says. An angler casts his line so that his imitation lands on top of the water, above the fish.

“If you’re not accurate, you’re going to scare the fish and you’ll never catch them. That’s the fun part,” Blomer says.

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