The Best Fishing Spots in Banff National Park

Not sure where to go fishing in the beautiful Alberta Rockies? Here is a guide to our favourite Banff fishing spots in some truly stunning locations!

Surrounded by skyscraper mountain peaks and crystal-clear water, the Alberta Rockies provide one of the most magnificent backdrops for fishing in the world. Due to this Rocky Mountain setting, high alpine lakes and rivers typically have lower levels of nutrients, making angling in the Rockies not nearly as plentiful as areas farther away from the mountains. Because of this, much of Banff National Park is catch and release only. Despite this, Banff fishing spots are about quality views over the quantity of your catch. Casting a line here is all about soaking up the wild, unmatched beauty of the region.

Head to the best Banff fishing spots on offer

With four major rivers and more than 450 lakes located within the borders of Banff National Park, there’s no shortage of Banff fishing spots to enjoy. It’s easy to make this activity a family-fun affair as many of the Park’s fishing lakes can easily be combined with a day hike, picnic or day on the boat.
If you’re headed to the Rockies soon, be sure to first check out our list of prime Banff fishing spots below.

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka fishing in Banff

Banff Fishing Unlimited Photo

Not surprisingly, the biggest lake in Banff also produces the biggest fish. In fact, some anglers have reportedly pulled trout out of Minnewanka that weigh up to a whopping 50 pounds! There is also decent sized Rocky Mountain whitefish in these waters as well.
The lake is located just five kilometres northeast of the town of Banff, providing easy access for a great day of stillwater fishing.
Your best bet for success is trolling from a boat, although anglers often do have some luck with spin-casting. Using the right lures and pinpointing the correct depth is key – the bottom of this lake sits at more than 400 feet in some areas. If you don’t opt for a guided tour, a fish finder can come in very handy.
There are also opportunities for shore fishing as well. One popular spot is located along the causeway on the shores of the Cascade River Inlet Bay, which can be accessed along the north shore via the picnic area.
But no matter where you cast, the pristine beauty of this lake is spectacular.

  • Open for fishing May 20th
  • A dam built in 1941 raised the lake by 30 metres and flooded a resort village, which is now an attraction for scuba divers
  • Lake trout possession 2 per angler

From town, head north on Banff Avenue and it eventually connects to the Minnewanka Loop Road, which takes you directly to the lake.

Hector Lake

Hector Lake, Alberta in July

The Passionate Hiker Photo

One of the largest lakes in Banff, Hector Lake is known for its pristine mountain views and fantastic (and oftern overlooked) campsite. Because reaching the lake requires a bit of time and expertise, and features a 200 feet, 60 metre drop to the water, there’s a good chance you’ll have your pick for the best fishing spots.
Located on the Bow River, Hector Lake is glacial lake that provides breathtaking mountain views and is a peaceful location for anyone hoping to avoid crowds. Attracting anglers of all skill levels, this lake is surrounded by streams, creeks and rivers to explore.

  • Open for fishing July 1st to October 31st
  • Don’t miss the “Hector Lake Hike” sign just off the Icefields Parkway
  • Intermediate hike required for access
  • Catch & Release only

Only an hour’s drive from Banff, the trailhead to Hector Lake is reached 18 kilometres north on the Icefields Parkway from the Trans-Canada highway. The lake is about a 5km roundtrip hike from the trailhead.

Bow River

Banff Fishing Photo

The Bow River provides a long stretch of riverbed that has many different access points. It’s perfect for those who want to venture along a hiking path or drive down a secluded road looking for a deserted and peaceful fishing spot. The Bow is also easily accessible from the Trans Canada, and so for those that don’t want to go searching for a spot along the river, there’s no worry.
If you’re planning on staying within the town of Banff, the Bow River runs through the town and can easily be accessed – like the west bank across from Central Park and along the Banff Springs Golf Course road. The Bow River can also be accessed along Highway 1 near Canmore. That way if you’re looking for an adventurous day trip, you can venture down near the town of Canmore for some very peaceful river fishing.

  • Open year-round
  • Upper Bow River is now completely Catch & Release
  • Motor boats are not allowed

The Bow River runs alongside the Trans Canada Highway in Banff National Park, towards Canmore and on to Calgary.

Peyto Lake

Fisherman in Peyto Lake, Banff National Park

Tipizia Photo

Peyto Lake is a glacier-fed lake just off of the Icefields Parkway. Located in the Waputik valley in the northern part of Banff National Park, the lake is surrounded by the breathtaking Rockies. Known for its stunning blue water (and believed to be Canada’s bluest glacier lake), Peyto Lake has become a popular attraction for tourists in the area.
Not only does the lake offer fantastic fly fishing opportunities for anglers, but the surrounding views and crystal clear waters truly enhance the experience.

  • Open for fishing July 1st to October 31st
  • Catch & Release only

About an hour’s drive from Banff town centre, take the Trans Canada Highway ramp to Lake Louise and merge. Take the Alberta 93 exit toward Jasper/Rocky Mountain House and merge onto the Icefields Parkway. 

Intense Canmore angling

There are number of excellent fishing spots scattered around Canmore and Kananaskis Country, but the prime attraction is the Upper Bow River.
You’ll find plenty of easily accessible spots along the highway or even right within Canmore. This glacier-fed river offers the cunning angler a chance to hook a wary brown trout, which can tip the scales at 10 pounds. There are also plenty of tributaries along the Upper Bow that have potential as well.

Before you make your way to the best Banff fishing spot

Remember, National Park fishing permits issued by Parks Canada are required – a regular Alberta fishing license won’t do here. You can pick one up at any shop in town that sells fishing equipment or at Friends of Banff National Park located in the Information Centre.
Be cautious of the wildlife in the area, as encounters are possible – though not frequent. Use your common sense, and make loud noises when walking in areas that lack clear visibility and lots of vegetation. This signals any wildlife in the area of your approach as not to startle them.
If you’re thinking of taking a trip to Banff National Park, we have our highly knowledgeable Destination Experts on call to help. They can answer any questions you may have about fishing in the area, or about accommodations for rent. You can view our Banff accommodations here, or our Canmore vacation rentals here. You can also call our Destination Experts at 1.877.902.1616 who are on the phone 7 days a week.