Alberta & BC Rockies 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.

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.

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:

British Columbia Fishing Rules

If you are 16 years of age or older, you must have a valid basic licence to sport fish for any species of fish in non-tidal waters (including salmon). You must purchase appropriate supplementary licences and stamps, and you must carry your licence while sport fishing and produce it for inspection by a Conservation Officer, Fishery Officer, RCMP constable, Park Ranger in a park, or an Officer under the Wildlife Act.

All annual licences are valid for the licence year which runs from April 1, to March 31, commencing on date purchased. NOTE: basic and supplementary licences and stamps are not valid in National Parks.

Licenses cost the following:

BC Resident

1 day $8, eight day $17, 1 year $30 (with reduced rates for senior and the disabled)

Canadian resident

1 day $15, eight day $25, 1 year $40

Non-resident Alien

1 day $15, eight day $30, 1 year $55

For other information check out:

Tidal Water Rules
Tidal Water fishing permits fall under federal regulations, designed to both conserve the fish and protect the important BC fishery industry. A tidal waters sport fishing licence is required to fish, spearfish or net, or to capture any species of finfish or shellfish. Annual licences are valid from date shown on licence to the following March 31.

Rates are as follows:

Canadian resident

1 day $5.62, three day $11.17, five day $17.12, 1 year $22.47, senior annual $11.77 (plus sales taxes)

Non-resident Alien

1 day $7.49, three day $20.33, five day $34.17, 1 year $108.17, senior annual $108.07 (plus sales taxes)

There is an annual $6.42 stamp required to catch any species of Pacific Salmon in tidal waters. Licences are available province-wide from more than 600 vendors, including sporting goods stores, resorts, service stations, marinas, charter boat operators and department stores. For further information about licensing, call 604-666-5835.

For more info about Tidal fishing, see:


Crowsnest There are more than two dozen high-country lakes scattered throughout the rugged Rocky Mountains in southwest Alberta, many in Waterton Lakes National Park. The rest are between the park boundary and Highway 3 in the Crowsnest Pass. Fishing seasons vary, but most are open soon after ice-out by mid-June. These lakes feature rainbows, cutthroats, brookies and goldens are all found in these back-country waters. (more info)

Jasper Region, good for Walleye, Northern Pike, Whitefish, Perch, Trout, and Goldeye. Waters include: Beaver Lake, Maligne Lake, Maligne river, Medicine lake, Moab Lake, Pyramid Lake, and Valley of the 5.

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