Family Fishing

This tour offers an assortment of fine fishing destinations in the Canadian Badlands for you and your young children. Ranging from quiet rivers to well stocked reservoirs and ponds; an adventure awaits everyone. Select one fishing hole for a few hours, or try your luck at a few spots as part of a unique multi-day vacation in the Canadian Badlands.

Be sure to look up driving times before you depart. A full list of visitor centers as well as contact information for attractions on this tour can be found by downloading the tour document.

The Canadian Badlands Touring Routes aim to follow good secondary highways and occasionally, offer gravel-road alternatives. Please drive carefully and respect private property. Every effort has been made to ensure accurate information at the time of publication. You are advised to conduct further research in advance. We are unable to accept responsibility for any inconvenience, loss or injury sustained as a result of anyone relying upon this information.

Tour Route

1. Before you leave.

Know the rules
To fish in Alberta, you must have an Alberta Sportfishing License and a Wildlife Identification Number, both available through private issuers listed on the Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) website: srd.gov.ab.ca/fishwildlife. Those under the age of 16, over 65 or a First Nations member, are exempt. Everyone can fish without a license on two free fishing weekends a year – the Family Day weekend in February and during National Fishing Week in July.

Before you hit the water, pick up a current copy of the Alberta Guide to Sport fishing Regulations at your local fishing supply store or download it from the SRD website. The guide outlines what you can catch, the number of each species you can keep, and what species are catch-and-release only. Catch limits are set annually for each lake, reservoir, pond and section of river. The guide also provides basic illustrations for identifying fish.

Alberta has a province-wide ban on barbed hooks. Barbless hooks are easier to remove from fish, increasing the chance of their survival when released. Crimping a barbed hook with needle-nose pliers will make it barbless. The use of live bait fish is also banned in Alberta. For more information, visit Alberta SRD.

You must have a pleasure craft operation card to operate a motorized boat in Alberta. For more information, visit Transport Canada’s website or phone 1-800- 267-6687.

Tackle box basics
Your tackle box should include:

  • Alberta Guide to Sportfishing Regulations

  • fish identification information

  • measuring tape

  • cotton gloves (for safely handling and releasing your catch)

  • line suited to your reel, including an extra spool of line

  • barbless hooks

  • sinkers and bobbers

  • needle-nose pliers

  • finger nail clippers

  • filet knife

  • net

You should also consider carrying:

  • sunscreen and hat

  • bug repellent

  • first-aid kit

  • map

  • camera

  • drinking water

  • snack

  • cooler and ice, if you plan to keep your catch.

Catch–and-Release Tips
Catch-and-release fishing helps maintain healthy fish populations. Minimize the time the fish is out of the water, handle it with wet hands or soaked cotton gloves, and hold it under the belly, not by the gills or tail. Instead of tossing the fish back in the water, give it a moment to get reoriented and let it swim out of your hands.

Trout Tips
Many ponds, reservoirs and lakes in the Canadian Badlands are stocked with trout. Worms, salmon eggs and maggots are popular bait; for lures, try a five of diamonds or red devil, with barbless hooks. Trout are drawn to drop-offs and warm, shallow waters, though on a hot summer day, they’ll head to cooler depths.

Walleye Tips
Look for walleye in shallower, warmer water. But on hot days, you’ll likely find them in deeper, cooler water or in the mouth of a river. Walleye like minnows but also go for flashy lures or spinners. Keep your line taut and jig vertically.

Northern Pike Tips
Smaller pike are usually found in weedy areas, while larger ones tend to patrol areas where prey, such as walleye, swim. Pike also like minnows and bugs.

Perch Tips
Perch are usually found close to shore, in about two to five metres of water, and are relatively eager to bite. Use your smallest and lightest tackle, including bobbers and attracter hooks, where possible. When you get a bite, use a sharp jerk to set the hook.

2. Red Deer and Area

There’s lots of great family fishing related fun in the Red Deer area. Combine fishing in the city’s river with paddle boating, horseback riding or cycling along valley trails.

Red Deer’s Wakasoo Park is home to 85kms of paved trails, most of which follow along the Red Deer River. The Red Deer river is filled with pike, walleye, and brown trout. Wakasoo Park is also home to Bower Ponds and Heritage Ranch, both great spots for family fun and beginners’ level fishing.

Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park is just a short ride away. Also situated on the Red Deer River, Dry Island Buffalo Jump offers a unique opportunity to fish where the tree-lined shores of the river contrast against the backdrop of eroding hills, cliffs, and hoodoos of the badlands. A boat launch, day-use area, and horseback riding offer a variety of options for everyone.

3. Drumheller and Area

Continue your family fishing adventure in the haunts of dinosaurs and the dramatic Drumheller Valley. Drumheller is best known for the nearby, world-renowned Royal Tyrrell Museum, but it’s also home to some great fishing. Much of the town’s pathway system follows the Red Deer River, so your family can stroll or cycle to good fishing spots for pike, walleye, sauger, and goldeye.

McMullen Island, in Midland Provincial Park, is an oasis of greenery in a comparatively dry and barren valley. Walk to the banks of the Red Deer River through lush bushes, shrubs, and tress and spend a day relaxing as cast your line to the sounds of songbirds and the slow river waters running over the rocks at your feet.

Located next to the Bleriot Ferry, a historic cable ferry that crosses the Red Deer River connecting the north and south Dinosaur Trails, the Midland Provincial Park campground offers a quiet spot to sit in the sun and take in the picturesque surroundings. Canoes, rafts, and kayaks are easily launched from this location as well.

Head out to explore the Hoodoo Trail. Try your best to walk across the 117 meter Rosedale Suspension Bridge without wobbling. Once safely across, set up along for the day on the sandy river bank, a favorite fishing spot of locals.

4. Brooks and Area

Brooks is an excellent launching point for a number of prairie fishing adventures. Many reservoirs and small lakes are found throughout the area, all part of the extensive irrigation network that has been created in this arid part of the prairies. Feel the rumble of falling water while trolling for walleye at the base of the Bassano Dam.

Lake Newell, Alberta’s largest manmade lake at 17kms long, is one of southern Alberta’s fishing hotspots. Home to Kinbrook Island Provincial Park, kids can troll for large pike, practice their casting in adjacent Kinbrook Marsh, and even play on warm sand beaches. Lake Newell also offers and boat launch, marina, and many picnic and family friendly area.

Dinosaur Provincial Park combines fishing in the Red Deer River with the excitement of learning about ancient dinosaur fossils. Home to Canada’s most extensive badlands landscapes, be sure to leave time for a hike or one of the interpretive programs

5. Special Areas

Alberta’s Special Areas boast a vast prairie landscape, with views to the horizon interrupted only by farm fences. Great reservoirs and ponds dot the region where kids can fish and soak in rural life.

The prairie reservoirs throughout the area are well stocked with rainbow trout and perch. Blood Indian Park attracts anglers from all around. Not only can you fish in these reservoirs, but sounds of laughter fill the area as kids jump in the water, families build sandcastles, and if the wind is just right, kites can been seen weaving through the air.

6. Medicine Hat and Area

The Medicine Hat area is a great family destination. Wrestling to reel in mighty sturgeon and pike, explore prairie coulees, learn to make and fire your own pottery, and visit the nearby prairie oasis of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park.

Echo Dale Regional Park is a great family destination. Fish from a riverside trail or teach kids to cast in the Echo Dale Trout Pond. After fishing, tour the park’s historic farm, visit the Ajax mine or even dive into the neighboring swimming hole. Be sure to take in the clay cliffs of the area that look almost as if they have been stained red.

Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a treasure trove of trees and small lakes. Untouched by glaciers during the last ice age and sitting 700 meters above the rest of the prairies, this area offers a dramatic change of scenery. Elkwater Lake is a premiere fishing location. Fish from the shore next to beaches and concessions or fish the middle of the lake by boat. Bike rentals and boardwalks make it easy to get around.

7. Lethbridge and Area

Lethbridge is a family paradise, with plentiful fishing holes in the river valley parks, which are all linked by paved cycling trails. Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is an outstanding camping destination, with good river fishing mixed with swimming holes, and hoodoos exploration.

Cast your line in the Oldman River at Indian Battle Park in the shadow of the towering High Level Bridge. Great shoreline fishing can be found throughout the city’s parks such as Cottonwood Park, Popson Park, Alexander Wilderness Park, and Botterill Bottom Park.

Wade past ancient rock art and petroglyphs at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. The murky waters of the Milk River meander through the prairies leading to one of the most picturesque places in the province. After a day of fishing, roast marshmallows over a crackling fire while observing the stars above.

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