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FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES

 

It’s Friday, 5:00 p.m. You’ve arrived home after another gruelling work week and aren’t in a great mood. You’ve still got to load up the kids, the camping gear and the food. Then you’ll fight the weekend traffic. It’s going to take you the best part of an hour just to get out of the city, then another couple to reach your destination. You ask yourself if it’s all worth it. Meanwhile, the fellow who sits at the desk next to yours is already knee-deep in water, fighting a six-pound walleye. What does he know that you don’t? Quite simply that some of the best fishing waters across the prairies offer little angler competition, are home to a great diversity of fish and, best of all, can be found right outside your door. Of the major prairie cities, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina and Winnipeg, only Regina is not situated on a major river.

The guy who sits next to me at work already has his fish.
The guy who sits next to me at work already has his fish.

Edmonton

- The North Saskatchewan River runs through the heart of downtown Edmonton and harbours catchable populations of walleye, sauger, northern pike, burbot, goldeye, rocky mountain whitefish and the prairies largest fish, the lake sturgeon. The three most popular target species in this underutilized fishery are walleye, sturgeon and goldeye. Walleye fishermen have their best luck in spring and fall, when fish are concentrated in deep holes. Back eddies, creek mouths, bridge abutments, beaver houses and drainage discharge areas are your best bet. Spring sees successful fisherman throwing rubber-tailed jigs, working them back slowly along the bottom. In summer, Lindy rigs are productive, baited with either worms or minnows. These should be stationery for best success, so depending on the current strength, you may have to go to a little heavier weight than usual. As the summer moves into fall, crankbaits become popular, particularly for those who troll.

Edmonton harbours catchable populations of burbot, walleye & northern pike
Edmonton harbours catchable populations of burbot, walleye & northern pike

Access to boat launches within the city is limited, with Goldbar Park being the most popular, but foot access points are numerous. Terrific walleye fishing can be found at Cloverbar Park, Whitemud Creek, Dawson Park and the Cloverbar Power Plant, though any place an angler can access the river is liable to produce fish. Walleye in the six- to eight-pound class are not uncommon within city limits. Sturgeon have garnered a lot of attention as anglers discover the abundance of these huge fish within city limits. Fishing is best in August and September, with the preferred method to run a 2 - 7 oz. weight (depending upon current flow ) on a one-foot leader from a 3-way swivel, with a three- foot snell to a single 3/0 hook. Three or four dew worms bunched on the hook has proven to be effective bait. Hot weather is key to successful sturgeon angling. Look for them in large, deep pools, especially on outside turns. Most of the popular sturgeon holes are easily accessible on foot. Recommended tackle includes eight- or nine-foot rods with 150 yards or more of 14-20 lb. test line. Though most sturgeon caught in Edmonton run in the 10 - 30 lb. class, fish nearing 100 lbs. have been landed. Goldeye are common throughout the city and are the river’s most frequently caught fish. They are a great treat for young anglers and can be caught using a jig and worm, small spoons, a bobber and worm, or on flies. They relate primarily to current areas and are most common from late May through to September.

Any place an angler can access the river is liable to produce fish
Any place an angler can access the river is liable to produce fish

Calgary

- The City of Calgary has gained world-wide recognition for its brown and rainbow trout fishery in the Bow River and rightfully so. Rainbows can be caught throughout the season and offer unbeatable excitement with their leaps and cartwheels when hooked on light tackle. For the fly fisherman, spring is the time of year for nymphing. Beadhead Prince’s, Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear and Pheasant-Tail nymphs, along with San Juan Worms, are the flies of choice. Fish them on a floating line with a strike indicator through riffle areas, adding enough split-shot to ensure your fly bounces along the bottom.

Trout are elusive today, this is the next best thing
Trout are elusive today, this is the next best thing

The summer months on the Bow are famous for their hatches, and there is probably no more rewarding way to catch a rainbow than on the dry fly. Pale Morning Duns, Blue-winged Olives and the Elk Hair Caddis are productive flies, imitating the most common hatches. Streamer patterns fished on sink-tip lines will also produce, with favourites Woolly Buggers, Bow River Buggers and Zonkers. For the spin fisherman, a variety of jigs, spinners, spoons and crankbaits will entice fish, particularly when cast into deeper pools. Brown trout are caught in basically the same manner as are rainbows, with one notable exception. Those who know the river well say that the absolute best time to fish browns is after nightfall. These shy fish lose some of their inhibition under darkness, and large streamer patterns or wobbling crankbaits are too much for them to resist. While most trout caught in the city average 10 -16 inches, fish in the 24 - 30 inch class are landed annually. Access to the river can be found at numerous spots throughout the city and most anglers fish upstream in their search for productive runs and pools.

There is nothing more exciting than fishing on the fly
There is nothing more exciting than fishing on the fly

Saskatoon

- Saskatoon hosts the South Saskatchewan River on her northern journey and offers walleye, pike, sturgeon and goldeye. Walleye are the most sought species, with fish in the 10-pound class caught regularly; fall is the best time for trophy-sized fish. Pickerel rigs are favoured by local anglers, though jigs or Lindy rigs also produce. Minnows, crawlers and leeches are effective baits; experiment to find out which is producing. River levels fluctuate significantly through the year and you’ll need lots of weight to steady your presentation in high water. The favoured location for walleye is below the weir, with good access available from either side. This is also a choice spot for those who prefer to fish crankbaits. Water levels here are relatively shallow and many anglers wade, casting as they move. Upstream, near the water treatment plant, is not nearly as productive, partly because of the turbid waters. Goldeye are plentiful throughout the city. Quiet summer evenings feature tremendous mayfly hatches, and these can be a boon to the fly fisherman. Casting from shore can be difficult because of the steep banks, but if you can get your fly out in the current, a couple of twitches should trigger a strike.

Fall is the best time for trophy-sized fish
Fall is the best time for trophy-sized fish

Winnipeg

- Manitoba’s capital is situated at the junction of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers. They host the widest variety of species in the province, including catfish, freshwater drum, goldeye, sauger, walleye, white bass, perch and bullhead. Manitoba is known for its trophy channel cats, and the city produces its share. Run a single 2/0 hook from a 3-way swivel with fresh or frozen fish, frogs, chicken liver or dew worms as bait. Use as much weight as it takes to hold your bait in the current. Popular locations include the north perimeter bridge (the city’s most frequented boat launching site) and at the Forks, where the rivers meet. Hundreds of 20-pound plus cats are taken every year. North Kildonan Park is a popular destination throughout the year, particularly for goldeye. This is a great place to introduce kids to angling. Other spots worth trying include Fraser’s Grove Park and the mouth of Sturgeon Creek on the Assiniboine. A hot summer’s day finds fishermen at the base of virtually all of the bridges that cross the river.

The Assiniboine and Red Rivers host the widest variety of species in Manitoba
The Assiniboine and Red Rivers host the widest variety of species in Manitoba

There’s a world of underutilized fishing opportunity in our most populated western cities, offering a diversity of species and excellent trophy potential. Just think how rewarding it is to be fighting a fish in the shadow of your home town while the rest of those suckers are still fighting traffic!


Previous Fishing Articles

(1) Old Man River

(2) The Pink Salmon of the Squamish River

(3) Small stream BT fishing

(4) Fly fishing beyond Trout: getting started

(5) In The Walleye Zone

(6) Zoo Trout

(7) Fly Selection for Beginners

(8) Fly Fisher's Christmas

(9) New Waters

(10) Big Bad Burbot

(11) Looking Back

(12) Out of Africa

(13) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams

(14) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish

(15) The Browns of Autumn

(16) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons

(17) Walleye Town

(18) River Fun - One Bite At A Time

(19) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers

(20) Going With The Flow

(21) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman

(22) Swinging The Fences

(23) A View From The Aerie

(24) Dixieland Delight

(25) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts

(26) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon

(27) Montana's Cool Missouri

(28) Pretty Is As Pretty Does

(29) Toothy Critters

(30) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake

(31) Top Ten Flies

(32) Northern Exposure

(33) Home Water Lessons

(34) Chicken Of The Sea

(35) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish

(36) Deep In The Heart Of Texas

(37) Keep It Up!

(38) River Fishing for Fall Walleye

(39) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the flood

(40) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity

(41) Hawg Holes

(42) Saltwater Salmon

(43) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing

(44) Down a Lazy River –
A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan

(45) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead

(46) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS

(47) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES

(48) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver

(49) Canada's "Other" Salmon

(50) Fall Walleye

(51) Wet Flies

(52) Versatility the Key to Success

(53) Grayling of the Boreal

(54) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish

(55) Size Matters

(56) Fly Fishing Small Streams

(57) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time

(58) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel

(59) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas

(60) The Point Of It All

(61) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day

(62) Fall Fly Fishing

(63) Personal Pontoon Boats 101

(64) Big River, Big Fish

(65) Bottom Bonanza

(66) Fishing Small Flies

(67) So Many Choices, So Little Time

(68) Four Seasons of the Bow

(69) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot

(70) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT

(71) Trout Hunting - New Zealand-style

(72) Don’t Leave Home Without Them –
10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box

(73) Edge Walleye

(74) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER

(75) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge

(76) Four Corners – Four Waters

(77) Chasing Pothole Trout

(78) Springtime Stoneflies

(79) The Torrents of Spring

(80) Drift Boat Fly Fishing

(81) Bust Them With Bait

(82) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book

(83) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months

(84) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout

(85) Terrestrials

(86) Fly In For Fishing Fun

(87) Rocky Mountain High

(88) Reading the clues

(89) Where the Trout Are
The art of locating feeding trout
in rivers and streams.

(90) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin

(91) Fly Fishing 101

(92) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod

(93) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay

(94) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder

(95) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead

(96) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital

(97) Eliminating the Spook Factor

(98) Trust Your Electronics

(99) The Most Important Hatch of the Year

(100) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout

(101) Finding Success for Ice Trout

(102) Walleye can be Humbling

(103) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed

(104) Winter Flyfishing

(105) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Gem

(106) Hot Fall Pike Action

(107) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down

(108) Reading Trout Stream Waters

(109) Frequently Asked Questions

(110) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout

(111) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice

(112) Deep Water Perch

(113) Post Spawn Brookies

(114) A Fisher's Life

(115) The River's Last Stand

(116) The Big Ones Come out at Night

(117) Coho on the Coast

(118) Chasing and Catching Halibut

(119) Summer in the Mountains

(120) Peak Walleye Season

(121) Slow and Steady Wins the Race

(122) Last Ice Rainbows

(123) The Burbot Event

(124) Tackle Matching

(125) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light

(126) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location

(127) The Lure of Brook Trout

(128) The Shallow Water Hunt is On

(129) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now

(130) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies

(131) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan

(132) The Vesatile Plug

(133) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout

(134) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures

(135) Good Fishing at Last Ice

(136) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations

(137) Daily Fish Migrations

(138) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn

(139) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star

(140) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing

(141) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing

(142) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser

(143) The Fun in Ultra Light

(144) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines

(145) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure

(146) Never Stop Learning

(147) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot

(148) Jigging through the Ice

(149) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline

(150) Rainbows on Ice

(151) The Season of Ice Begins

(152) Red Hot Fall Pike Action

(153) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman

(154) Facts On Cats

(155) West Coast Adventure

(156) June Walleye Frenzy

(157) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories

(158) "First Fish of the Year - Pothole Rainbows and Browns"

(159) "Northern Exposure"

(160) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish

(161) Early Season Pike On The Fly

(162) Man Overboard