Alberta’s Best Fishing Hot Spots

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Are you looking for the best fishing hotspots in Alberta? From the foothill streams, to the northern lakes and the southern rivers, Alberta shines in its variety. Read on for the top five places to fish in Alberta:

1. Kakwa River

If ever there were a spot where the fish, the environment and the mountains have remained wild and untouched, the Kakwa River north of Grande Cache on Highway 40 is it. Bull trout as long as your leg, Rocky Mountain whitefish larger than life and arctic grayling in numbers so huge they defy imagination, all come together to provide the ultimate fishing experience. I spent a day bushwhacking into one of the harder to reach areas and was rewarded by spending a glorious day with my buddy Dave Wall and Melanie Patchell catching more grayling than we could count. Repeatedly, we had massive bull trout longer than two feet sharking into the shallows taking shots at our hooked fish. The grayling and whitefish hammered our flies from the moment we started fishing until the time we left. For a spell I put on a small spoon and picked up some bull trout in addition to more grayling and whites. To catch the big bull trout, though, I’ll be back with massive seven-inch spoons and larger flies, as they were only interested in the big stuff. —Fred Noddin

2. Bow River

If you’ve had a great time mountain wilderness fishing and are looking for a fill of civilized trout then write the Bow River on your must-visit list. These fish will daintily suck up your #16 Parachute Adams then, at the touch of your hook, tear off in a line-blistering before jumping eye high, straightening out your hook or snapping it off altogether,. It’s that good. Directions: go to Calgary and have fun. The trout in the Bow are both plentiful and large. If you’re looking for the big browns, concentrate your efforts in the city sections, while if large acrobatic rainbows are your quarry, move below the city. Any form of drift boat is worthwhile, and I’ve done the drift out of my own boat several times. To complement the “do-it-yourself” attitude, there are numerous shuttle services offered where you pay a fee to have someone drive your vehicle to the take out point while you float the river and fish your heart out. If time is limited, or you want to reduce the learning curve, which on the Bow there definitely is, then hire a guide for the day. It’s a good investment. —FN

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3. Pigeon Lake

If a change in pace is in order after all this great trout fishing, no place offers more consistent walleye catching than Pigeon Lake. From Red Deer it’s located north on Highway 2 and then west on Highway 13 to the provincial campground. If all you did there was launch the boat and motor straight out until the bottom dropped off, anchored and dropped down a quarter ounce jig and minnow — you’d catch more walleye then you could count. Then, if you wanted to jazz things up you could put on a bottom-bouncer and spinner rig and troll it up or down the lake. This will catch a bunch more, plus the odd pike. Pigeon Lake is a fun lake and a great place to take friends and family. Catching fish at this summer long playground is as close to a guarantee as there comes. —FN

4. Northern Potholes

With a good fill of walleye and pike fishing, trout fishing on Alberta’s northern pothole trout lakes is a wonderful alternative. Expect excellent fishing spring and fall with a slower period during the heat of summer. Places like Figure Eight, Sulfur, both near Peace River, and Swan near Valleyview, all have great trout populations where one can expect to catch the spectrum of trout species. Rainbows, brookies and browns swim these waters and they can all be caught quite readily. Casting a small Bead-Head Prince Nymph or a Bead-Head Pheasant-Tail Nymph under any fashion of bobber will catch every fish that swims, but if it’s real big fish you’re looking for, a start chucking plugs, especially for the big browns. Big trout are fish-eaters and plugs have accounted for many of my best strikes. —FN

5. North Saskatchewan River

Who wants to catch a 20-pound fish? How about a 40? And bigger? I’m talking about sturgeon and they’re here in the North Saskatchewan River and there are plenty of them. Find any deep hole in and around Edmonton during the lazy days of summer and cast out a pyramid weight and dew worm. The weight anchors the bait to the bottom where the sturgeon will sniff their way up to eat it. And when a sturgeon bites there’s no doubt about it. The rod will start to yo-yo, then it will snap down and hold as the fish takes the bait. That’s when to set the hook. My last trip out I picked up a 30-pounder and the time before that I caught a beast of 54-1/2 inches and close to 45 pounds, yet on that day, it was the second biggest one caught. A 60-inch beast was also landed. Besides sturgeon, expect to catch walleye, goldeye, sauger, suckers and pike and speaking of pike, there are a lot of 15- to 20-pounders in the river. Cast a fire tiger or blue and gold Rapala Husky Jerk in and you will connect to plenty of the river’s pike and walleye. Just one last question: ever try it at night? Now there’s a secret.  —FN

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