Fishing In Alberta

Fishing In Alberta

Posted by Written by Dalene Heck on 9th May 2022

Alberta Fishing License

Before you go fishing, it’s important to know which Alberta fishing license you need. Firstly, all anglers must have an active Wildlife Identification Number (WIN) before purchasing any fishing license. The cost for a WIN is $8 and can be ordered online.

In Alberta, there are different fishing licenses required based on your age, your residence, and what you intend to catch. There are also different prices for residents of Alberta. Those under 16 or over 65 do not need sportfishing licenses. Indigenous people also do not require fishing licenses and have specific fishing rights in Alberta. 

There are also special harvest licenses you must purchase for walleye fishing, so make sure to stay up to date with those licenses. Walleye licenses are only available by draw, so enter early if you intend on fishing for walleye in Alberta. 

Fishing in a national park in Alberta requires a national park fishing license. A provincial fishing license is not valid. The national park fishing license is $9.80 per day or $34.30 for an annual pass and is not included in the standard park entry fees.

Fishing Season in Alberta 

Fishing licenses in Alberta are generally valid for one year, from April 1st until March 31st of the following year. Always research the spot you’d like to visit in order to plan your most successful fishing trip, as there are optimal times for fishing each lake or river. Certain bodies of water also have specific opening days, so it’s imperative to make sure you follow all opening day laws. 

For some, the best fishing season in Alberta is in warmer weather, while others love ice fishing. The typical summer fishing season is from May – October while the ice fishing season can start as early as October in some areas.

Popular Spots for River Fishing in Alberta 

River fishing is very popular in Alberta, but keep in mind that there is no ice fishing allowed on rivers in the province.

Popular Spots for River Fishing in Alberta River fishing is very popular in Alberta, but keep in mind that there is no ice fishing allowed on rivers in the province. 

Crowsnest River
Approximately 90 minutes west of Lethbridge is the Crowsnest River. Spawning from the Canadian Rockies and a tributary of the Oldman River, it is touted as one of the most beautiful spots for fly fishing in Western Canada. The river may look small enough, but don’t be fooled as there are plenty of trophy fish here. Fish found here include Brown Trout, Rainbows, White Fish, or even Cutthroat. 

Ram River
Another popular trout fishing spot in Alberta, the most abundant species here are bull trout, brown trout, and cutthroat trout. Found in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, it makes for one scenic fishing trip you won’t soon forget.

North Saskatchewan River
This glacier-fed river that flows from the Rockies into neighbouring Saskatchewan makes for exceptional fishing in Alberta. With close proximity to Edmonton, the North Saskatchewan River produces burbot, lake sturgeon, walleye, northern pike, goldeye, and mountain whitefish, so it’s always an exciting day out! 

Oldman River
The Oldman River flows through southern Alberta, beginning in the Rocky Mountains and making its way toward Lethbridge. While many flock to both the Bow and the Crowsnest rivers for trout fishing, Oldman shouldn’t be overlooked for its terrific fly fishing. Head to Upper Oldman for the best fishing opportunities. 

South Saskatchewan River
One of Canada’s major rivers, it’s no wonder that the South Saskatchewan River provides fantastic fishing opportunities in Alberta. Flowing through southern Alberta, the river is popular for walleye, northern pike, goldeye, yellow perch, and gigantic sturgeon.

Berland River
Berland River is one of the those special fishing spots. The river will challenge any paddler and besides the prime fishing, the location holds some of the most stunning rock cliffs and scenery in the province. Expect to find many fish types here including rainbow trout, bull trout, and graylings.

Popular Spots for Lake Fishing in Alberta 

There is extraordinary lake fishing in Alberta throughout the year, though it’s important to keep track of closure dates for certain lakes. The lakes listed below are some of the best for fishing both in warmer weather and for ice fishing in Alberta! 

Maligne Lake (Jasper National Park)
Known for its gorgeous colour, the turquoise waters of Maligne Lake are home to many species of fish, especially trout. Found in Jasper National Park, the lake produces some of the biggest rainbow trout in Alberta. 

Lake Minnewanka (Banff National Park)
A glacial lake located in Banff National Park, Lake Minnewanka is home to both incredible scenery and excellent fishing (it is certainly one of the most scenic lakes in Alberta). Head here for one of the best trout fishing spots in all of Canada, although you may also catch a few Rocky Mountain whitefish. They don’t call this fisherman’s paradise for nothing! 

Marvel Lake (Banff National Park)
Crystal clear water and a beautiful backdrop are reasons that any fisher will come to Marvel Lake in Banff National Park. The lake is known for its big cutthroat. It’s a long lake and accessing the shoreline can be difficult at times, but there is a backcountry campground nearby and this is the most popular spot to fish from. 

Upper Kananaskis Lake
Kananaskis Country is home to Upper Kananaskis Lake, where you’ll find rainbow, brown, brook, cutthroat, and bull trout. With Canmore and Calgary nearby, it makes for the perfect day or weekend fishing trip. 

Ice Fishing in Alberta 

You can’t talk about fishing in Alberta and not talk about ice fishing! Ice fishing in Alberta is arguably just as popular (or even more popular) than fishing in warmer weather, and it’s a great way to spend a winter day. Make sure you’re well prepared for a day in the cold, including warm clothing, a comfortable chair, and a fishing tent or shack (many popular fishing spots have rentals nearby). See this graphic for important tips on ice fishing safety.

In general, the ice should be at least 10 cms thick before venturing on it, although it’s imperative to check all opening days for the body of water you plan on visiting to stay safe. Many lakes will have huts you can rent for the night; Gull Lake even has luxury ice shack rentals! 

Another important point to consider is that there is no ice fishing on flowing water in Alberta, meaning you can’t go ice fishing on rivers or streams (only lakes). You’re likely to catch lake and bull trout, walleye, yellow perch, and walleye while ice fishing in Alberta.