Fishing in Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies

Banff National Park, Alberta

By Caroline Shin
Staff Writer

Fish among Banff's splendor.

Fish among Banff's splendor.

Fishing in Banff means being surrounded by the majestic Canadian Rockies and standing in its shimmering waters. And Banff National Park, the perfect spot to enjoy your time off.

Top 3 Things to Keep in Mind when Fishing in Banff

1) GET YOUR PERMIT FIRST. A National Park Fishing Permit is required before you can fish in the park. You can purchase an annual or a single day permit at Banff National Park’s information centres, Hot Pools or campground kiosks, as well as some local retail venues. The permit that you purchase in Banff National Park, is also valid in the national parks of Jasper, Kootenay, and Yoho.

2) YOUR SAFETY IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. Take caution whether you are wading in a river or riding on a boat. You are responsible for your safety and that of your companions.

  • Be sure to have all the required safety equipment when boating.
  • Be prepared for hazards of weather; even the mountain summer can be cold.
  • Bring layers of clothing to ensure that you remain warm and dry.
  • And remember to always be aware of bears in Banff’s wilderness areas.

3) HELP PRESERVE BANFF. A good fisher is a prudent fisher. Please obey fishing regulations, take part in creel and user surveys, report tagged fish and participate in public consultations.

Fish Watching at Banff National Park

Fish Watching is a low-impact way of enjoying the marine wildlife of Banff National Park–a vicarious fishing of sorts–and discovering the world beneath the water’s surface. You can quietly and unobtrusively observe the lifecycles of fish as they swim, feed, and breed.

Banff National Park: 5 Fish Watching Tips

1) What to bring to Banff’s waters: Bring binoculars to zoom into nature’s wildlife. Wear polarized sunglasses to reduce the water’s reflective glare which may hinder your views beyond the surface.

Fish spawn in the waters.

Fish spawn in the waters.

2) Know where to look. If you are hiking by the outlet or inlet of an alpine lake in June you may find cutthroat trout spawning there. If you paddle on the Bow River, look towards the bottom for a resting bull trout or the current for a school of foraging mountain whitefish.

3) Dive in for a closer look. Some divers in Lake Minnewanka claim to have seen a huge lake trout down in the murky depths-a giant to rival the record 43-pounder caught there in 1889!

4) Stand away from the stream bank or lakeshore to avoid casting shadows and creating vibrations, which may startle the fish. Never throw objects into the water to catch their attention.

5) The best times to fish watch are early morning and evening when there is likely to be more activity and better visibility – less glare and calmer waters. In the spring and fall, you can catch sight of fish spawning.

Best Places and Times to Fish Watch

Fish watching is a great passive sport for the whole family.

Fish watching is a great passive sport for the whole family.

  • Cave and Basin Marsh: tropical fish at the fish-viewing platform.
  • Beaver Pond, west end of 3rd Vermilion Lake: In October, look for brook trout spawning in shallow water close to the road.
  • Johnson Lake: take the bridge that crosses the stream flowing into Muskrat Bay. In spring, rainbow trout spawn in the shallows, in the fall, the brook trout.
  • Forty Mile Creek: Look for whitefish spawning beside the Fenland trail in the fall.

Fly Fishing Tours by Banff Travel

Banff TravelCast your reel into the pristine waters of the Canadian Rockies with Banff Travel fly-fishing tours. With more than 20 years of experience, guides for the two tours guarantee to help all skill levels hook a Blue Ribbon Trout.

The small tour group sizes will give you individualized pointers on how to best hook a big one. The walk and wade tour has a maximum of four people and the Driftboat trip, originating in Banff, has a maximum of two.

The tours can be tailored to fit the individual needs of each fisherman and includes all fly-fishing equipment and packed lunch.

Website: Click Here!
Call Toll Free (888) 659-3394 or local 403-774-7219

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