Blue Ribbon Bow
A Fly- Fishing History of the Bow River -  Canada’s Greatest Trout Stream   

Foreword by Charles F. Waterman.  

This book explains the history of the Bow River valley and the development of the river into one of the world’s most celebrated trout streams. The first edition, published in 1986 as a large-format, coffee-table book, received the  Book of the Year Award from The Outdoor Writers of Canada.  That edition is now out of print, and occasionally fetches high prices in used bookstores.  However the revised and updated edition was published in 1998, and is available in hardcover or softcover.

Chapter titles:  The Whole of the Bow; A History of the Bow River Valley; A History of the Bow River Trout Fishery; The Bow River Trout Fishery Today; Fishing the Bow River; The Upper Bow River; The Middle and Lower Bow River; Fly Patterns; The State of the Bow River Trout Fishery

Blue Ribbon Bow – (184 pages) hard cover - $37.95 (Cdn) + GST.,  $30.95 U.S. 
Blue Ribbon Bow – soft cover - $22.95 (Cdn) + GST,  $19.95 U.S.



Blue Ribbon Bow
An Excerpt from the  Introduction 

            The Bow River and I go back a long way—back to a time when, as songwriter Ian Tyson would put it, I was young and limber, and when the river was something of an upstart, too, breaking all the rules of trout riverdom.  I note with pleasure that my affection for this river has not diminished in the 30 years since I first stepped into it; I note with less pleasure that the river seems to have aged more gracefully than I have.

            A river’s reputation, like a young athlete’s or artist’s, grows in a fairly predictable fashion: the first to notice their gifts are family members, then a few friends, then a writer from the local newspaper.  Next is the national press, then an American TV network.  Publicity reaches its zenith when yokels who knew them when they were nuttin’ write books about them.

            Things didn’t work exactly this way for the Bow River—except for the book part.  While I would never claim to have been the only guy around in the early days who appreciated the Bow and its trout fishing, in the mid-1970s the group of us was pretty small.  If one of us saw somebody across the river with a fly rod, it wasn’t hard to figure out who it was.  Those of us fly-fishing the Bow then knew its trout were big and strong; we just didn’t appreciate how much bigger and stronger they were than trout everywhere else.

            In typical Canadian fashion it took high-profile outsiders—Lefty Kreh, A.J. McClane, Gary Borger—to point out that the fish in the Bow were bigger and stronger that the fish in the famous American rivers they had been writing about for many years.  Ironically, among the last to find out about the quality of the Bow River was the average fly-fishing Albertan, who might have lived within sight of the Bow but continued dutifully plotting obligatory trips to the Madison, Snake and Henry’s Fork.  The last to meet and appreciate the charms of the Bow as a trout stream were the provincial government and the city of Calgary, both of which have made progress—albeit grudgingly at times—toward better stewardship of the resource.

            The Bow has been pressured and abused by technology, pollution and simple accumulating humanity.  But the river and its fish have survived, and just as importantly the river’s appeal has survived.  Solitude, the core element of fly-fishing, is still out there, even if it now must be sought more diligently.  I still find it in the gold light of daybreak at McKinnon Flats or in the brittle, tangy aroma of an October afternoon.

            The Bow’s fish are as big and strong as ever, and though other rivers have taken their turn at being fashionable, it still draws anglers from far corners of the globe who return year after year.  The great fishing brings them back, of course, but maybe they are drawn again and again to the Bow River because it is doing its best to disprove the saying that you can never go home.  Often my visits to the river remind me not of what changes in life but of what remains constant.  I hope they feel the same.  The Bow isn’t perfect, of course, any more than a spouse is perfect.  But is a spouse worth spending a lifetime with?  Unquestionably yes, and so is the Bow River.



What Folks Say!
Book Review by Michael Fong, from The Inside Angler

          As far as quality trout streams go, the Bow River in Alberta flowing by Calgary and downstream is a recent development, something that came about starting about fifty years ago. Some of the influencing factors contributing to the creation of one of the West’s best trout streams were the discontinued planting of trout, the successful introduction of brown trout and the building of a dam on a tributary that serves the dual purpose of lowering water temperatures on the main stem in the summer and contributing a volume of water to allow trout to successfully overwinter. There are many other factors that make the Bow the trout stream that it is and Jim McLennan weaves these all together to provide an intimate portrait of his home stream.

As one of the first guides on the Bow, you would expect to read about how to fish the Bow and this is covered in every aspect. What you get from reading this book is far more. Jim gives a history of the land and the people through which the Bow runs and he has the courage to speak of the river’s future in the most frank terms. There are expert anglers who write and there are writers who fish. Rarely do you find them one of the same, as here. Even if you never plan to fish the Bow, you’ll enjoy this read.

This is the second edition of this book published in 1998 bringing all timely information up to the present. In the 6"x9" format, "Blue Ribbon Bow" covers 184 pages with 16 pages in color bound together at the end. Black & white photographs are sparingly used and maps help to orient the reader.


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