Calgary Fishing

[ Background | Equipment | Where ]

Background of the Sport

Fishing off the dock is the easiest way to fish This sport began as a way of catching food, and though it has become a sport, and it's one where you eat what you win (except for "catch & release" fishing)! The concept behind fishing is that you attach either bait or a lure to a line attached to a fishing rod, and the fish will eventually (hopefully) think its food, swallow the bait, get hooked, and you get to reel the fish in. Fishing is a relaxing sport (and requires or teaches patience), helps you to unwind, and you can enjoy your natural surroundings--at least until a fish bites.

Fishing can be done from shore, from a pier, or from a boat. The choice will depend on where you are and what kind of fish you are seeking. Once you have picked a sport, you need to select your tackle, either using bait on a hook or a lure. After attaching it to your line, you need to place the bait where you think the fish are. This is called casting, and is done by extending the line a bit and flicking the rod behind you and then forward to use inertia to get the tackle far out into the water. You then reel in the tackle, trying to mimic the movements of the animal your bait is trying to mimic.

Another popular variant on fishing is ice fishing, where you fish through a hole in the ice (often protected by a heated hut or a tent). This usually uses a shorter rod, and is popular in many parts of the country where longer winters create thick ice giving access to deepwater fishing spots to all.

It is considered sportsmanlike practice to keep only those fish you plan to eat. Return the rest for others to catch. Please respect the environment, by not littering, and by not being overly noisy. You should also make sure you comply with provincial regulations regarding fishing seasons, required permits (more on this later)


Youth getting fishing lures ready In order to go fishing you need a rod & reel and some basic tackle. There are several kinds of rod & reel for either spincasting (best for beginners) or for fly fishing. You can buy these separately, or in combination. You need to select your line to suit your fish and your rod & reel, though today monofilament made of a single strand of plastic is most prevalent. The "terminal tackle" at the fish catching end of the line may include any of a number of elements: the hook for bait or a lure, a snap swivel (particularly when using spinning lures), a sinker (to hold the hook down), a bobber (to keep it up, say above weeds). You will also need a tackle box, needlenose pliers, nail clippers, a bucket, a net (for landing the caught fish), and optionally a camera.

The choice of bait or lures depends on what you're fishing for, the time of year, your fishing philosophy, and sometimes local rules. Typical live bait includes earthworms, minnows and assorted garden "crawlers." Lures tend to be more expensive, but present several advantages: they are durable, you can pre-pack a variety to suit any fishing excursion and they are heavier making it easier to cast in windy conditions. Some of the accessories to help make your fishing trip safer and more fun include: hats (for shade), sunscreen, insect repellent, life jackets (absolutely when fishing from a boat, but also for kids along the shore), a first aid kit, and waterproof boots or waders.

Alberta Fishing Rules

All people sportfishing in Alberta require a valid licence, except those under 16 years, Albertans over 65 years, and native Indian people. There is an $18 annual cost for Canadian Residents, $18 for a 5 day non-resident licence or $36 for an annual non-residents licence. Fees do not include 7% GST. Before purchasing any licence, a person must hold a valid Wildlife Identification Number ("WIN") (see Licensing System). You can apply for your number at the same time you purchase your licence. The WIN costs $8.00 and is valid for five years (renewable for another five years for $4.00). Fishing licences outside National Parks can be purchased from Fish and Wildlife offices, hardware and convenience stores, and department stores. Alberta Sportfishing Licences are NOT VALID in national parks in Alberta.

The Sturgeon Fishing Licence is only valid for the keeping of one sturgeon per year over 130 cm in length from the South Saskatchewan River system and only during the time period of June 16 to March 31. This licence costs $5 for all individuals (including those under 16 and Alberta Seniors).

For complete information contact Alberta Fish and Wildlife Division, 9920 - 108th St., Edmonton, AB TSK 2G6 or call (403) 427-6757. More online info:

National Parks

Licences for fishing in our National Parks can be purchased at park information centres, administration, campgrounds, wardens offices and some fishing shops. The cost is $13 per year, or $6 for a seven day permit for all persons.


From the Bow River around the city of Calgary, south to the Alberta-Montana border, there are more than 1,000 miles of trout streams and rivers, including the Bow, Oldman, Crowsnest, Castle and Waterton. There are also numerous foothill and prairie lakes, mountain parks lakes, which fish well once they are ice free (by late April in the foothills, early April for prairie pothole lakes) through September and early October. Popular trout lakes south of Calgary include Police Outpost and Mami lakes near the town of Cardston; the Beauvais and Beaver Mines lakes west of Pincher Creek; and Lees Lake near the Crowsnest Pass. These lakes are also ideally suited to float tubing. (more info)

The rivers and lakes of southern Alberta are home to seven species of trout and char, including westslope cutthroat and bull trout, as well as rainbow, brown, golden, brook and lake trout, and the rocky mountain whitefish (also a member of the trout family). Southern Alberta rivers that are known for pike include McGregor, Travers, Badger, Newell, Keho, Stafford, Chin and Milk River Ridge reservoirs. Northern pike can also be caught in some of the rivers including the lower Bow, downstream of the Bassano Dam; the Oldman, downstream of Fort Macleod and the South Saskatchewan.

Check out fishing in the Rockies & Foothills

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