Harvie Passage- A Challenge For Drift Boat Use.

Harvie Passage Low Water Channel (LWC) was developed as a safe passage through the Western Irrigation District (WID) weir in the heart of the City of Calgary, adjacent to Pearce Estate Park. The original development was completed in 2012, but unfortunately the 2013 flood destroyed most of the infrastructure. There was weakness in the original development, whereby safe passage through the weir was problematic. The redevelopment of the site addressed these concerns with a clear directive to make the Low Water Channel safer for all river recreational use. Although the objective was safe through passage, there was a secondary objective to develop the site into a Whitewater Park. The Government of Alberta (GOA) was comfortable that both objectives could be met.

HP Schematic

It was unfortunate that the interests of the fishing community and specifically the use of drift boats were not considered in the early stakeholder consultation process. Bow River Trout Foundation (BRT) engagement with the consulting engineers on the Harvie Passage Project did not take place until 2016, therefore there was little time to make concessions to the design of the LWC to meet the specific needs for drift boat passage.


BRT concerns are centered on the width of each drop chute throughout the LWC.  A drift boat with oars extended is 6.50 meters in width and would have difficulty navigating each LWC drop. Although changes could not be built into the design to meet additional width, it was felt that navigation through the LWC would be possible provided there was a straight run at each drop and no rocks to avoid on entry and exit from each LWC chute. This concept was tested in July 2017 where a low-profile drift boat skiff navigated the LWC with little difficulty.

Access to Harvie Passage was limited to hand launch activities until August 29, 2018 when a temporary public boat ramp was opened at Shouldice Park that made trailered-boat use of the upper city reach of the Bow River possible. This new access gives an additional 22 Km of river to float and fish from a drift boat, including the traverse of Harvie Passage by access to the LWC. Unfortunately, several enhancements to the design of the LWC following the 2017 test days have created potential  hazards. The following photos of LWC Drop 4 illustrate modifications that changed the stream flow to the left of the channel.

Drop 4 2107
Drop 4 2017
Drop 4 2018
Drop 4 2018

It is now difficult for a drift boat with oars extended to navigate Drop 4 and change direction between the two rock deflections on the left side of the channel. There have been incidents where drift boats have hit these rocks, that suggest changes in the design may be needed. Alberta Environment & Parks is aware of these concerns and will monitor the situation next year.

In the meantime it is advisable to scout out the Low Water Channel  before taking a trip.


Other Considerations:

20170426_103040A float through Harvie Passage Low Water Channel is only possible when the Western Irrigation District water sluice-gates are closed from  April to early October. It is hoped that this can be extended until the end of October.


HP Portage

Drift boat use of the HP Portage Channel above the weir is difficult under low flow conditions. It’s too shallow, not wide enough and has very little flow. It needs to be dredged.


Harvie Passage has been a very popular destination water park this year with unexpected use by body and tube floaters. This will only increase next summer constituting even more caution by paddlers and drift boats.

A Cold Day on the River

PG One Fly 2

Twenty drift boats ventured out on the Bow River Saturday, September 29, 2018 on a cold snowy day to participate in Bow River Trout Foundation’s 2018 One Fly Tournament. The morning meet and evening reception were held at the Toad & Turtle on 130 Avenue SE, Calgary.

Awards were presented for: Most fish caught – Sean Britt (11 fish) ,Brown Trout – Anne Jurgens ( 22″), Rainbow Trout – John Roggensack – (22″)

We would like to recognize our sponsors and the Angling Outfitters and Guide Association of Alberta for their supportSlide1


Patricia Hughes Appointed Executive Director

Bow River Trout Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Patricia Hughes to the position of Executive Director. Patricia brings to the foundation a wealth of experience in project management and engagement. Most recently Patricia worked for Teck Resources as Senior Advisor, Community Relations, and previously for Devon Energy in a similar capacity.

Patricia Hughes

Patricia received a BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, CA and an MA, in Latin American Studies, from the University of New Mexico.

In the position of Executive Director, Patricia will lead the advancement of the Bow River Trout Foundation in its commitment to the Blue Ribbon Bow River Fishery.

Bow River Trout Foundation was established in 2016 with an objective to “Advocate and Support the Bow River Fishery”. With a broad base of membership and local fishing community support, Bow River Trout Foundation has engaged with government agencies to recognize the importance of the Bow River fishery as a world class trout fishery and as a local recreation venue. Our recent initiative to revitalize the Policeman’s Flats river access site downstream of the City of Calgary was completed this year.

President, Peter Crowe-Swords comments: “The addition of Patricia Hughes to the position of Executive Director  is an important step to meet our commitments to the Bow River fishery. Bow River Trout Foundation has accomplished a considerable amount in a relatively short period of time and now we have the opportunity to reach out to enhance a very valuable resource for future generations”.

Contact Information:
Peter Crowe-Swords
Bow River Trout Foundation



BRT 2018 One Fly Tournament – Saturday, September 29, 2018

After the success of the inaugural tournament in 2017 we would like to invite Mike Mumbyyou to participate again this year. The 2018  One Fly Tournament will take place on Saturday, September 29, 2018. Anglers are invited to actively participate in the event, or enjoy a day on the river that will also support Bow River Trout Foundation’s initiatives to “Advocate and Support the Bow River Fishery”.

This year’s event will offer the following registrations:

Guided Trip – $600.00 will buy a fully guided boat for the day (up to 2 anglers). Registration closes September 23, 2018

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Self-Guided Trip – $300.00 will allow participation with a self-provided boat (up to 3 anglers) Registration closes September 26, 2018

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The Event Format:

KauscheA morning meet up to distribute lunches and facilitate final registration will be held at the Toad and Turtle parking lot off 130th Avenue SE between 7:30 and 8:30 AM. A reception for participants and the angling community at large will be held at the Toad and Turtle afterwards, beginning at 5:00 PM.

For anglers competing in the tournament,  awards will be presented at 7:30 PM. In order to qualify for awards participants must submit pictures and catch charts either in person or by email/text photo of the charts prior to 6:30 PM. Only participants present at the time of the awards presentation are eligible for prizes.

One Fly Tournament Rules OneFly rules – 2018

Please join us for what should be a great day on the water and a fun evening with friends both old and new.

For additional information please contact us at bowfish4653@gmail.com

Bow River Trout Foundation is planning to raise an estimated amount of $100,000


The State of the Bow River Fishery – Trout Population Decline Update

August 31, 2018:

An Update of the original article published earlier this year

The previously reported Bow River Fish Populations Report documented the historical fish population surveys from 1980 to 2007 which at that time supported a sustainable fishery.  The recent retrospective analysis of Bow River Trout Population Surveys by University of Calgary researcher Chris Cahill, entitled, Multiple Challenges Confront a High-Effort Inland Recreational Fishery in Decline  has indicated that rainbow trout populations are in trouble. Data analysis showed that the Rainbow Trout populations may have declined by as much as 50% over a ten-year period from 2003 to 2013. The research indicated that:

“Despite uncertainty in both abundance and trend estimates, these results indicate that Rainbow Trout in the LBR (Lower Bow River) likely declined during both assessment periods. The median posterior estimates for a 10-year standardized population trend were -43.0% using Trendestimated from the 2003-2008 data, and -50.0% using Trend estimated from the 2003-2013 data. Since the size criteria for tagged fish (≥ 250 mm FL) corresponds approximately to the sizes of mature Rainbow Trout (Rhodes 2005), the estimated decline likely represents a large reduction in the number of mature individuals in this population. For example, The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) guidelines state that “in cases where the declines or its causes are unknown” a decline in the number of mature individuals ≥ 30% or ≥ 50% over a period of ten years would qualify a population as “threatened” or  “endangered,” respectively (COSEWIC 2018). Rainbow Trout in the LBR are naturalized (Gilmour 1950), and hence do not qualify for listing as per COSEWIC guidelines; nonetheless,  these criteria demonstrate the magnitude of the decline documented here”. 

Recent stakeholder engagement with  Alberta Environment & Parks has addressed an initiative to stop the decline in Bow River trout populations and hopefully  see improvements in the future.


The first step to a recovery program  is to establish a baseline fish population index that will guide fishery management policy change.

During the weeks of September 10 and 17 AEP will conduct fish populations surveys on the Bow River using the electro-shocking technique.

Bow River Trout Foundation is committed to this process and believes that the first step should be to conduct Bow River fish population monitoring on a regular basis that will give an index for the “The State of the Bow River Fishery”

The State of the Bow River Fishery

The Blue Ribbon Bow River needs your help. Your donation will assist BRT initiatives to monitor fish population dynamics and advocate for fishery management change.


Calgary River Access Strategy – Shouldice Park Boat Ramp Opens

For the fishing community the ability to launch a trailered boat into the Bow River at Shouldice Park is a game changer. It allows for fishing from a drift boat over an addition 22 Km of Calgary’s Bow River. It more than doubles what was previous available from Graves Bridge down to Fish Creek Park.20180829_175327

The Shouldice Park boat ramp redevelopment was not considered a priority in the Calgary River Access Strategy. The redevelopment of West Baker Park and new boat ramps at Inglewood & Ogden Bridge were given priority. Unfortunately, engineering and instream work permitting delayed the roll-out of these projects until 2019. It became evident that a solution for upstream trailered boat access was needed, especially in light of the reopening of Harvie Passage in the summer of 2018. Thanks to an agreement between Calgary Parks and Calgary River Users’ Alliance members Bow River Trout Foundation, Alberta Outfitters & Guide Association of Alberta and Rocky Mountain Paddling Association a directive was put in place to open Shouldice Park as a public boat ramp.20180829_094419

The site selected was the same as that used by all river users prior to the 2013 flood. That is, an open area under the 16 Ave NW Bridge. With the removal of the cable barrier and limited excavating of the approach to the the river bed, access is now available to the public.


There is adequate truck/trailer parking on 13 Ave NW east of the bridge for up to 10 vehicles provided cars use the assigned angled parking and parking lots within the park. The river access site under the bridge is for boat drop off only.



A float trip from Shouldice Park to Graves Bridge/Glenmore will take 7 to 8 hours under the current Bow River Flows of 70 cms. For the fishing community who may not be familiar with the river. There are a number of  potential hazards en route to Grave Bridge:


Point McKay Storm Water Outflow – river left

Parkdale – river left on the right tail-out of the islands, upstream of Crowchild Bridge

10 Street NW – river right, the Surf Calgary site

Harvie Passage – The portage channel has insufficient width to operate the oars of a drift boat and potentially the rocks on each side of the drops during lower river flows constitute a potential hazard.

Ogden Bridge / Refinery Park – be aware of the concrete slabs scattered across the river and a 10″ pipe just under the surface of the water, river left, adjacent to Refinery Park concrete wall20180829_160736 (2)

Bonnybrook Water Waste Treatment Plant in-stream excavation work below the CPR Bridge.

All these sites can be found on the CRUA Google Map:

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the City of Calgary and specifically Calgary Parks Department for making the Shouldice Parks Public Boat Ramp Possible.



The State of the Bow River Fishery – A Need for Water Management Change

The Bow River fishery needs a constant supply of cold clean water to sustain its future as a world recognized “Blue Ribbon Trout River”.

The management of water flows is controlled by the Province of Alberta within long standing agreements with TransAlta who control the hydro-electric dam infrastructure above Calgary, the City itself and the irrigation districts downstream.

Although Bow River flows are variable through the year, there has been extreme variations in flows during the spring and early summer of 2018. The impact on the sports fishery was enormous and potentially threatened the fish population itself. Changes were made to the water management protocol in July that have stabilizes flows, but the underlying operational proceedures that control the river flow are still in place. 

The document, A Need For Bow River Water Management Change, details the Bow River water management model, flood mitigation protocols and opportunities to stabilize river flows.

Bow River Trout Foundation is hopefully that our engagement with Alberta Environment & Parks, the water regulator and TransAlta, the hydroelectric power operator will see changes to water management operation in the upper Bow River that result in enhanced protection of the Blue Ribbon Bow Sports Fishery.

The State of the Bow River Fishery

The Blue Ribbon Bow River needs your help. Your donation will assist BRT initiatives to monitor fish population dynamics and advocate for fishery management change.