Things To Do: Fishing in Upper Kananaskis Lake

Kananaskis Country, Alberta

Upper Kananaskis Lake, Alberta

I had a great weekend fishing in Kananaskis, Alberta. With the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, I launched my boat on Upper Kananaskis Lake, 1.5 hours west of Calgary, and cast my reel.

Despite catching just a single fish, the spectacular scenery, fresh mountain air and the absolute quiet made it an incredible summer day. There were hundreds of people in K-country, enjoying the hot summer sun and the surrounding mountains. Most were hikers and sightseers, giving me the water nearly all to myself.

The winds were light and the turquoise water was almost placid. There was no need to anchor. With the motor off, I sat back and cast my line. The sun was high in the sky and the dark shadows of the towering mountains weren't quite long enough to stretch across the lake. It was easy to sit back and relax, but hard to stay awake with the hot sun on my exposed back and arms. The only time I woke was when a distant boat started its engine or a bird call echoed in the valley.

After 2 hours without a nibble on my line, I moved closer to Hawke Island near the shallow water on the north side. I anchored in 20 feet, well above the submerged tree stumps. My lure got snagged once. And then finally I caught my prize my first trout of the year!

View Fishing in Alberta on Upper Kananaskis Lake in a larger map

Fishing Tips for Kananaskis

  • Sport fishing licenses are mandatory in Alberta for all residents & visitors. Licenses can be purchased online or at private retailers.
  • The lake is stocked with Bull Trout, Rainbow Trout and Cutthroat Trout. Respect the size and catch limit. Conservation officers are present to verify your haul.
  • Anglers will find good results near the beach and the earthen dam. In mid to late-summer, the fish head to deeper depths near the middle of Upper Kananaskis Lake or near the far end close to the dam.
  • I've heard that fishing at Sarrail Creek Falls, near the Rawson Lake Trail head, is usually good from the shore.
  • Try not to disturb the fish in the waters near the shore as many land-locked anglers like to fish from the Upper Kananaskis Lake Loop Trail.
  • Check the weather report before venturing out since the tall mountains prevent you from seeing what's coming until it crosses the peaks, by which time it's too late.
  • If you're boating, be careful of the wind as it funnels through the surrounding valleys.
  • There's no charge to use the concrete boat launch. It's wide enough to accommodate two vehicles at a time. Ample parking is a short distance away, across the road.
  • Upper Kananaskis Lake is a man-made reservoir and the trees were chopped down before the area was flooded. Tree stumps are still present near Hawke Island, on the north edge and near the southwestern shore so watch your hull and propeller.

There's plenty of places to fish in Alberta but the solitude of the Bow Valley, when no one is around, makes this my favorite fishing trip around Calgary & Banff.

Find more things to discover in Alberta, including incredible scenery, great hikes and outdoor adventures, and interesting roadside attractions.