Welcome to Doc's
Fly Fishing Edmonton
Your Stillwater Information Site
Close to 1,000,000 people call Edmonton and the surrounding areas their home. If you're anything like me, you like nothing more than to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the stresses of work, dreaming of those days off when you can pack up the fly rod and head out to one of Alberta's world class streams or a trophy stillwater fishery.
This page is dedicated to all that are in search of some Edmonton area trout lakes. Places of solitude where we can spend a few hours breathing in some fresh air and enjoying the local wildlife. A quiet, relaxing spot to cast a dry fly, strip in a streamer or hang a chironomid and wait for feeding trout to inhale what we spent all winter creating at the vice. A special place to stillwater folks called, the "Pothole Lake".
The information available here on the Fly Fishing Edmonton website is free and is here to help you, the new stillwater fly angler or for those new to the Edmonton area and not sure where to fish. This site features directions to some local trout lakes, some favourite fly patterns, float tubing tips and articles featuring my favourite techniques and tactics used on stillwater fisheries. Make yourself comfortable, take a look around, soak up some information and drop by again anytime.
Fly Fishing Lessons
Casting Lessons, Clinics & Guided Trips
Edmonton Local Trout Lakes
*NOTE: In the summer 2015, ACA began working with local community groups and landowners in the watershed to reduce nutrient loading to the lake, improve water quality, and ultimately re-establish the fishery. While ACA developed aeration infrastructure, AEP conducted pilot stocking with 5,000 rainbow trout in spring 2020 (the first re-stocking of the lake since 2012!). Following was a supplemental fall stocking of another 5,000 fish, including rainbow and tiger trout. * info taken from https://www.ab-conservation.com/
2022 stocking included 10,000, 2N rainbow trout and 1,500, 3N tiger trout as of May 7th.
Hasse Lake is a provincial park stocked each spring with rainbow trout and tiger trout. It features a beach, a very large floating fishing dock, a boat launch and a kid's play park. Hasse opens at 5am in the morning and closes at 11pm. It is well equipped with lots of picnic sites including fire pits but overnight camping is not allowed. Hasse at one time was the most popular pothole lake in the Edmonton area. Hasse has a good mixture of shallow and deep water but because of the low water levels, launching a boat from the boat launch is very difficult if not impossible, backing in a trailer. If you're using a pontoon boat or a float tube, try using the beach, otherwise hand bombing your boat at the launch is your only option. Lots of weed growth here make for good insect activity but three spine stickle back minnows were illegally introduced here years ago (not sure if they are still in the lake or have died off). Most trout over 14 inches will taste muddy from this lake. Occasionally, Alberta Health Services send out advisories for the public to stay away from the lake due to water tests showing higher than usual levels of fecal coliforms, which are intestinal bacteria particles. This advisories usually get lifted before autumn.
Directions: Follow the Whitemud Freeway west, the road ends at Hasse or follow Hwy 16A west about 5km past the town of Stony Plain then head south at the sign and follow sign directions. If you pass the Mohawk (located on the South side of 16A) then you've gone just a little too far.
Star Lake was my favorite Edmonton fishery for many years. Star was consistently producing large trout but don't expect high catch rates here as the trout are very fickle and feeding can turn on and off like a light switch with the switch being turned off more than on. Star lake reminds me of Hasse Lake about 30-35 years ago. The lake is stalked every spring with Rainbow trout and there is easy access for float tubes and boats (electric motors only) as the parking lot is located right on the lake. A great lake for those looking for more of a challenge with some really good chironomid hatches through out the summer. There are now perch in Star Lake which makes slower growth in the trout as perch and trout eat exactly the same food items.
8,437 2N, 20.2cm rainbows, 1,000 3N, 17.7cm tiger trout and 1,000 3N, 18.8cm brown trout, were stocked in May 2022.
Directions: From Edmonton take Hwy 16 west to Hwy 770 then 7km south and 3km west on Township Rd 524 (the road ends at Star Lake, look for the sign). Star Lake is just west of Mink Lake
Another Edmonton pothole lake offering some good size trout. Spring Lake was known to also have a perch problem so in the winter of 2006/2007, the aerators were removed in hopes of a winterkill would kill off the perch population. Reports are that it worked but then perch were reintroduced again and are currently back in the lake again. 5,000 2N, 18.6cm rainbow trout, 5,000 all female 2N, 20cm rainbow trout, 1,500 3N, 17.7cm tiger trout and 1,500 3N, 18.8cm brown trout were stocked in May 2022.
Boats are allowed here, pretty much any size within reason and gas or electric motors are fine with a 12km/h restriction. There is a private boat launch at Spring Lake Resort & RV Park, unfortunately you must rent an RV site or be a guest of an RV resident to use the boat launch. Your other option is to join the Edmonton Trout Club and access the lake through the club property. Spring Lake features a lot of shallow bottom and although this makes for excellent bug activity and big fish, a lot of the lake is un-fish-able at times because of massive weed growth.
Directions: From Edmonton follow Stony Plain Road (hwy 16A) west, turn left 6kms after the Town of Stony Plain right before the Mohawk and follow the signs to Spring Lake Resort and RV site (Edmonton Beach). You can find walking paths to the lake throughout the residential housing.
East Pit Lake
East Pit Lake used to be a strip coal mine and is now a pretty decent fishery. It's stocked with Rainbow trout every spring and does not allow any motorized boats. You can get a canoe in there but it's quite a hike up-hill and then down-hill to the lake, a float tube is the way to go but bring your shoulder straps. There was talk years back of guy's pulling in 7-9 pounders but heavy pressure has brought down the size of trout in here. This lake is very popular with bait fishermen as you can fish from pretty much anywhere on the lake. It is a good lake for beginners to practice their fly casting too. 5,800 2N, 18.7cm and 5,800 2N, 16cm rainbow trout were stocked into the lake as of May 2022.
Directions: From Edmonton head west on highway 16 and take the turn off to the town of Wabamun. Once on top of the overpass, at the intersection turn north (right) and look for the gate on your left hand side.
Cardiff Park Pond
This lake is one of the best places to practice your fly casting from shore. There's lots of open space and the lake is perfect for somebody new to fly-fishing that doesn't yet have a boat. I sometimes visit this lake for a quick fix when I don't have time to fill the tube/pontoon or load the boat. I've done well here from shore with my best being a 22" rainbow on a #14 Adams. The lake is stocked every spring with Rainbow trout and unfortunately, perch are abundant as well. As of May 2022, 11,500 2N, 20.9cm rainbows and 550 3N, 17.7cm tiger trout were stocked.
The lake can be very weedy, especially from July through September. This can make it hard to fish nymphs or chironomids. There is no charge for parking but it's a bit of a walk to carry a boat. They do have a boat rental but I've never seen it open. There are also several small parks for the kids to play in.
Directions: From Edmonton, travel north on highway 2 out of St. Albert, just before Morinville turn right at the Cardiff sign then you have the option of going straight or turning right again after the town of Cardiff. Turn into the park gates (just follow the signs to the golf course, the lake is opposite the course). The park sign reads open at 8:00am but because of the golf course it usually opens at 6am. The park closes 1/2 an hour after dusk.
I've fished this pond more than a few times now. It gets stocked with rainbow trout and brook trout every spring and perch are present here as well. This is often the first lake with open water in the spring due to the lack of trees, alowing the wind to access to the ice. I haven't caught any lunkers out of here yet but have hooked into some decent scrappers that may have went up to 20 inches. I've heard reports from other anglers of trout caught up to 23 inches in length. The lake was last stocked in May, 2022 with 2,050 all female 3N, 21cm and 2,000 all female 3N, 20.8cm rainbow trout, 1,600 3N, 19.5cm brook trout and 1,000 3N, 18.8cm brown trout. To get here take highway 2 north to Morinville and it's just west of the overpass.
In my late teens, Chickakoo used to be my favorite Edmonton pothole lake. This lake gets stocked every spring with rainbow trout, in the past brook trout were also added. I used to catch trout up to 25 inches at this lake on a regular basis but it started to winterkill frequently. It's a great lake for tubes, canoes and fly casting because it's surrounded by trees which keeps the wind down. It was last stocked in May 2022 with 10,000 2N, 21.1cm rainbows. This lake is a day area only with no camping and no gas motors allowed on the lake. There are actually two stocked lakes here with Chickakoo being the largest. (Sauer to the south is stocked with Rainbows as well). In the summer the family can enjoy marked trails for hiking around several of the lakes near to chickakoo and in the winter these same trails are used for cross country skiing. The trails all start and end in the Chickakoo parking lot. To get to Chickakoo, travel 10kms north of Stony Plain Corner on secondary hwy 779, then 5km north and west (signs are well marked). *NOTE: The County of Parkland has been running 15 diffuser type aerators on Chickakoo since 2016, during open water season with removal each November. There is no evidence that this will stop winter kill but could stop summer kill. I'll update this when I find out more information.
I fished Peanut lake tons when I was younger, it's always reminded me of Hasse Lake. It's stocked every spring but is subject to winter kill and perch are present. Flat fish (yes hardware) actually work really well here when trolling, don't be afraid to throw one on your intermediate fly line and troll it about 3-5 feet under the surface. Doc Spratley's also work wonders here as you work the weed beds. Peanut Lake was last stocked in May 2022 with 5,000 3N, 19.4cm brook trout.
Directions: From Edmonton, take highway 16 west then north on the Mackenzie hwy to hwy33. Head north on 33 towards Barhead, then take hwy 654 east to Belvedere and north to the lake.
Dolberg is now designated a "Quality Lake" with trout up to 26 inches being caught. It has a boat launch with a quick drop off, great for float tubers and offers 12 treed self reservation campsites. The absolute best times to try Dolberg is in May, Sept and early Oct but the lake is productive all year round. The lake was last stocked in May 2022 with 8,000 2N, 20cm rainbows, 2,000 3N, 17.7cm brown trout and 2,000 3N, 16.7cm tiger trout.
To get to Dolberg travel 17.5kms west of Barrhead on Highway 18, then 3kms north and 24.5kms west.
*NOTE: Dolberg has had recent regulation changes including NO BAIT (lures or flies only), one fish retention allowed per day, must be over 50cm (20").
Millers Lake offers up good size trout of both rainbows and browns. Rainbow trout are stocked every spring and tiger trout have now been introduced. Millers is a day use area only with no camping or picnic tables but does have outhouses and a boat launch. This lake is aerated in the winter months to stop winterkill. Millers Lake has some good structure with shallow weedy areas to the north and long growing weeds on a shoal in the south that quickly drops off to about about 30ft. Millers was last stocked in May 2022 with 10,550 all female 3N, 20.6cm rainbow trout. To get to Millers Lake, head west on highway 16 and look for sign about 22km's past the town of Edson. Turn right on RR194, then take your second left and follow that road to the lake.
Muir Lake was first stocked back in the 60's & 70's but because of yearly winterkill, the stocking program was stopped. The lake is now stocked every year with rainbow and brown trout thanks to the efforts of the Edmonton Trout Club, the Northern Lights Fly Tiers, the Edmonton Old Timers Fishing Club and Trout Unlimited Edmonton. This project includes an enhanced fishery and with the help of two aerators, anglers will have a chance at larger then average trout. Also found at Muir Lake is the education center to teach anglers how trout fisheries rely on various organisms that live in and around the water. Other enhancements to look forward to are; the Walk Of Fame, honoring those who have enriched angling in Alberta and eventually a fly-casting platform. Muir has in affect special regulations for anglers, which include: Anglers may keep only one fish over 50 cm per day (Any fish under 50cm must be released) Artificial lures only (No Bait) No fishing from November 1 to April 30 (Open May 01 - Oct 31) A plan to have no gas motors (electric only) Initially, the growth rates at Muir were lower then expected, we assume because of the lack of harvesting. The stocking in 2006 and 2007 was much lower leaving more bio-mass for the trout to grow. In 2007 we started seeing larger trout with some getting over the size limit mark of 50cm's. The only negative feed back other then slow growth from the trout is the amount of weed growth. By the time August comes around, it's hard to get to the east side of the lake in a float tube due to the high growth in weeds. We talked about cutting the weeds back but no action had been agreed upon. Muir Lake experienced it’s first full summer kill, due to the extended heat wave Alberta saw in the summer of 2021. With many thanks to Senior Fisheries Biologist, Stephen Spencer, the lake was stocked with 300, 8.7” brown trout, 1000, 9.7” rainbow trout and 100, 15.5” rainbow trout in November of 2021 before the lake froze over. Before this summer kill, Muir was producing trout up to 27”. In May 2022, the lake was stocked with 3,000 all female 3N, 20.7cm rainbow trout and 500 3N, 18.8cm brown trout. Directions: From Edmonton travel west on the Yellowhead (hwy 16) and turn north on Campsite Road then head west on 540. Turn south (left) just before the road bends north. From Stony Plain, head north on secondary highway 779 then east on 540. At the T-intersection, turn south (right) and take your first right (south) into the parking lot.
The Muir Lake Project
Anglers interested in trout fishing but far from natural trout waters visit their local stocked lakes for convenient fishing excursions. This and also to ease pressure off of our native fisheries is the reason behind stocking lakes that were once void of any game fish. The idea of stocking thousands of small trout each spring into these local lakes, also known as pothole lakes, is great for the "catch and keep" angler with it's five trout per day possession limit. These regulations help in conservation strategies by deterring a lot of anglers from fishing our native fisheries that have restricted possession limits. These stillwaters can however discourage anglers wishing to fish for larger trout. With the amount of fishing pressure these lakes receive, it's hard to find trout that will actually grow to a trophy size before they are harvested by anglers. It's also hard to keep the smaller trout off your lure when their numbers are so abundant.
In 2002, the Edmonton Trout Club, the Northern Lights Fly Tyers & Fishers, the Edmonton chapter of Trout Unlimited, and the Edmonton Old Timers Fishing Club joined together and created the Muir Lake Project. Each of these clubs had two representatives that formed the directors board for FESA (Fish Enhancement Society of Alberta). The project goals of FESA were to re-establish a trout fishery with exceptional angling opportunities, create a walk of fame honoring those who have enriched angling in Alberta and build an education center that connects anglers, trout, and simple life forms. Their hopes for this project was to help people understand the relationship between fish and their environment and how we need activists to ensure we can improve the quality of our fishing habitat in the future.
The concept of a trophy trout lake had been the topic of discussion amongst Alberta anglers for quite sometime, especially in areas that are distant to natural trout habitat. Beaver Lake, South of Rocky Mountain House, was the first to experiment with catch restrictions and lake aeration producing some very large Rainbow trout. Beaver Lake was used as a model for the Muir Lake Project and Stephen Spencer (Stony Plain area fisheries biologist) suggested a more restrictive limit than Beaver due to Muir's proximity to Edmonton's large population.
Some of these restrictions included:
• Anglers may keep only one fish over 50 cm per day,
• Artificial lures only (no bait)
• No fishing from November 1 to April 30
• A plan to have no gas motors (electric only).
The stocking of 14,300, 11centimeter Rainbow Trout took place in May of 2003 and 5,700, 20 centimeter Rainbow Trout in May of 2004. The committee hoped that, thanks to the founder's effect, the fish that survived the first winter of 2004 would reach 30-40cm's by May of 2004 and then possibly a few may break the 50 cm mark by the following September. By October of 2004, 45cm trout were frequently reported. The rationale behind the regulations on Muir Lake was to create an enhanced fishery with a delayed harvest. The vision was to have high catch rates and the opportunity to keep a trophy. The 50-cm size limit could be revisited depending on growth rates, angling pressure, etc. There is considerable angling pressure being so close to Edmonton so continuous observation is needed before decisions are made to revisit Muir's regulations.
The first major hurdle the committee faced was finding a suitable lake. Biologist Stephen Spencer required a lake that was a closed system, did not have any existing native sports fish and would not interfere with an existing trout fishery. The committee needed a lake that was relatively close to Edmonton, had public access, and would provide suitable habitat to grow trout. Searches led them to Muir Lake, which had a trout fishery in the 1960's and 70's but was very susceptible to winterkill. The lake was test netted during the summer of 2002 and there were no game fish found in the lake. Thanks to the well-known technology of aeration, Muir Lake became an ideal candidate for the project and gave them the opportunity to restore its trout fishery. Muir Lake has a surface area of 32 hectares (78 acres) and depths that range to 5.5m (18 ft). Most of the lake is less than 3.5m, (12 ft) deep, which is excellent for growing trout but makes the lake prone to winterkills. The narrowest part of the lake is quite shallow and proper aeration requires two aerator units. One is located east of the island and the second is located on the northeast end of the lake not far from the lake entrance. *NOTE: As of 2020, a third aerator has been added close to the original aerator on the east side of the island.
The other important elements of this project are the Walk Of Fame and Education Center. The Walk Of Fame honors those who have enriched angling in Alberta. Our province has a rich history of people and groups that have gone to great lengths to restore damaged fishing environments or to protect existing ones. Every angler in Alberta owes a debt of gratitude for this work. The project plans to repay this debt by recognizing these contributions and helping to ensure that the legacy continues. The Education Center helps anglers with understanding how trout fisheries rely on imitating the various organisms that live in and around the water. The project plans also included building an interpretive area where people, young and old, can learn about the life cycles of these organisms and angling strategies used when imitating them. A spawning channel was being looked at as a tool for education and second, to help relieve stress on trout by letting them release their eggs rather than absorbing them back into their systems. Since the province started stocking 3N trout, the spawning channel was scrapped as the trout would have no urge to swim up the channel. A casting platform was also in the works for Muir Lake but due the deep muddy bottom, a floating dock was installed in it's place. Muir Lake is located between highways 778 and 779 on township road #540. The Muir Lake Project was a privately funded project using raised and donated money, aeration is now under control of the ACA.
So What Exactly Is A Pothole Lake?
Potholes lakes are smaller water bodies usually less than 40 acres in size although pothole lakes stocked with trout typically have a surface area larger than 40 acres. When observed from an aircraft these water holding depressions look similar to potholes in a road. Pothole lakes are leftovers that formed over 10,000 years ago by the great continental glaciers that occurred in 300,000 square miles of prairies in the Northern United States and West-Central Canada. Water is supplied to the potholes by seepage inflow of ground water, precipitation on the water surface and basin runoff. Depletion of pothole water results from seepage outflow, overflow and evaporation. Throughout the prairie provinces and in the U.S., some pothole lakes, if deep enough and previously void of any game fish, are stocked as put and take fisheries to give anglers that don't live close to natural self-sustaining fisheries convenient fishing excursions. The trout stocked in these pothole lakes -usually rainbow trout- cannot reproduce without moving water and because of this; these lakes may be stocked frequently according to the amount of pressure they receive. On the flip side, these lakes may be deemed a quality fishery and have a delayed stocking schedule according to the type of management the lake is under. For example, most pothole lakes are managed as put and take fisheries usually with high keep limits (in Alberta, an angler may keep five trout per day). Most of these lakes are stocked once a year with some being stocked twice a year if angler pressure is exceptionally high. Then we have some pothole lakes managed as delayed harvest lakes or even trophy fisheries where you may see stocking happen every year, two years or even three years. These delayed harvest fisheries could have regulations where an angler may only keep one trout over 50cm (20 inches) per day or may have no harvesting at all. Both delayed and no harvest regulations give the trout an opportunity to grow to a good fighting size and in turn enhance the experience of the angler.