Canmore offers some of the most beautiful fishing in the Alberta Rockies. Not sure where to go? Check out our guide to the best Canmore fishing spots.
Canmore is situated along the Bow River just off of Highway 1, about 5 minutes east of Banff National Park. Surrounded by breathtaking Alberta Rockies,Canmore is an ideal location that provides picturesque backdrops for fishermen to enjoy. With access to the Bow River just minutes away and many glistening lakes and rivers close by, there are plenty of Canmore fishing spots to experience.
There are a number of excellent fishing areas scattered around Canmore and Kananaskis Country. The following fishings spots are some of the region's most loved, and you'll be inspired by the surrounding scenery and ample wildlife sighting opportunities. Wildlife sightings are common, so be sure to take precautions and make some noise while you’re travelling through any brush to avoid any furry visitors.
Our list below is a selection of great spots that offer fly fishing, sprawling mountain views, still-water fishing, boat-friendly locations, and more.
The sparkling waters of the Upper Bow River are renowned for challenging fishing and enthralling scenery. Twisting through the mountains of Banff National Park, these waters offer prime opportunity to hook some hard-fighting brown trout, which can weigh up to 10 pounds. The Upper Bow River is also prime habitat for Rocky Mountain Whitefish and even the occasional cutthroat or brook trout.
The nature of the Bow River is different in the upper stretches compared to the Blue Ribbon portion downstream of Calgary, where the nutrient levels are higher. The Upper Bow is a glacier-fed, freestone river with wary fish that make for an excellent challenge.
Use dry flies, streamers and nymphs to land a big one on this catch-and-release river. But the awe-evoking scenery rivals the angling for attention: marvel at the alpine views as you wait for your bite.
There are a number of places to access the Upper Bow River, including along the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 1A just east of Canmore. You can also fish the Upper Bow right within the town of Canmore itself.
This popular fishing hole, tucked along the Bow Valley Trail between Canmore and Exshaw, is one of the few stocked lakes in the area. With its easy access and generous catch limit of five trout per day, Grotto Mountain Pond lures plenty of anglers during the summer. Some fishermen have even managed to pull hefty brown trout out of these waters.
This lake also features lots of open shoreline, so casting from land isn’t usually a problem – try heading to the south side where the drop-off is more dramatic. The north side of the lake isn’t as heavily fished during the summer months, but you have to cast further to hit deeper water. These waters are also great for dry-fly fishing as well.
Additionally, consider taking a small boat out to hunt for other productive spots. The water here is often crystal-clear, so you actually see the fish swim beneath your vessel.
You can’t miss it – this small lake is located about 15 kilometres east of Canmore right along the Bow Valley Trail.
Located just outside the town of Canmore, this small, scenic lake is great spot to fish for arctic grayling.
This lake actually was an old quarry that was reconstructed for fish habitat, providing ample depth to ensure strong overwintering. The mountain views here are mesmerizing, with Ha Ling Peak, Mount Lady MacDonald and the Rundle Range all filling the sky on the horizon. Plus the water is amazingly clear.
But of course, the main attraction at Quarry Lake is the supply of grayling. Head to either the south or east end of the lake, where the water is deep close to shore. This is also a popular swimming spot in the summer, but most sunbathers tend to linger on the sand at the north end, where the fishing isn’t as promising.
Located just on the outskirts of Canmore, Quarry Lake is located just off Spray Lakes Road near the Canmore Nordic Centre.
Resting in a pristine mountain valley, this long and narrow lake is a hot spot for ice fishing. You can also pull robust trout from these waters in the summer as well.
Originally, a series of lakes rested along the Spray River. But after two hydroelectric dams were built in the area, these relatively small bodies of water were united in 1950 as the reservoir filled. Today, this lake is clear and cold with a maximum depth of about 65 metres. One interesting characteristic here is that the fluctuating water levels have kept the shores along the reservoir rocky and barren, creating a unique landscape to explore.
The prime attraction is winter fishing for trout and rocky mountain whitefish. Several local tour companies provide ice-fishing trips to the lake, complete with heated huts. Some will even cook your catch for you right on the shore.
You can also try your luck in the warmer months by fishing from a boat. You’ll find the only boat launch at the Driftwood Day Use Area located on the northeast shore.
From Canmore, take Three Sisters Drive heading south of town and then turn right onto Spray Lakes Road/Three Sisters Parkway. The reservoir is about 28 kilometres away.
Wedge Pond is a tricky lake in Kananaskis Country that holds ample opportunities to hook arctic grayling. Don’t expect a quick bite here – these fish are often quite wary. Fly-fishers should slip on some waders or use a float tube to access deeper water. A day-use area and short trail around the pond can also be found at Wedge Pond.
Wedge Pond is located along Highway 40, about 8 kilometres south from the turnoff to Nakiska Mountain Resort.
Just north of Wedge Pond you’ll find Mount Lorette Ponds, a tranquil little fishing hole also nestled along Highway 40. It’s normally stocked with trout, but after flooding in 2013 it’s not clear whether this will continue. Nevertheless, Mount Lorette Ponds is a great family spot, with quick access to the lake via a paved trail network. And of course, the alpine scenery is always stunning.
Before you embark on any fishing trips to Canmore, be sure to have your Alberta fishing license. You can pick one up at any fishing goods store in town. To find out more about Alberta’s Sport Fishing License, click here. Furthermore, to read more about fishing regulations in Alberta, click here.
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 Canmore, 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 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.