Fishing / Angling

Banff National Park

Special restrictions

Anglers must possess an Aquatic invasive species (AIS) Prevention permit when angling in Banff National Park. Aquatic invasive species can cause irreversible damage to sensitive aquatic ecosystems. AIS are non-native plants, animals and diseases such as zebra mussels and whirling disease. Protect park waterways by complying with all park regulations and closures:

Report AIS sightings to 403-762-1470 or 1-855-336-BOAT (2628).

General fishing regulations (Canada National Parks Act)


Felt-soled boots are not permitted in any water body.

Although they provide a good grip on slimy substrates, felt-soled wading boots are more porous than modern rubber-soled wading boots and are extremely difficult to decontaminate. As a result they create a perfect environment to hold invasive species such as whirling disease spores. Scientific literature has shown that felt-soled wading boots hold more potential to transmit organisms between water bodies than any other piece of angling equipment.

Download the fishing regulations brochure (PDF 4.02 MB)

When angling, it is unlawful to:

  • Fish without a valid national park fishing permit in your immediate possession.
  • Fish with or possess within 100 metres of park waters the following:
    • natural bait and chemical attractants;
    • any lead tackle (sinkers, jigs, lures and flies) under 50 grams;
    • lures with more than 2 gang hooks;
    • a line capable of catching more than one fish at one time;
    • live or dead fish or any parts thereof for use as bait.
  • Fish by any method other than angling.
  • Fish with more than one line at a time.
  • Fish with a line having more than one artificial fly.
  • Fish closed waters.
  • Leave a fishing line unattended.
  • Fish from 2 hours after sunset to one hour before sunrise.
  • Sell, trade or barter any fish caught.
  • Place or transfer any fish or fish eggs between any park waters.
  • Place any food for fish in park waters.
  • Harass fish by throwing objects or impeding their movements.
  • When fishing in park waters that allow possession (see Catch and Possession Limits), it is unlawful to:
    • possess more than 2 game fish at one time;
    • continue fishing on any day after having caught and retained the maximum daily catch and possession limit;
    • allow your catch to spoil or to be wasted.

For a complete listing, please refer to the National Parks of Canada Fishing Regulations.

  • Fishing permits

    A national park fishing permit is required when angling in Canada's national parks. Provincial fishing licenses are not valid.

    Anyone under the age of 16 may fish in the national parks without a permit if accompanied by a national park permit holder 16 years of age or older. However, their catch is then included within the permit holder’s daily limit. A valid national park pass is also required when fishing in the mountain national parks.

    You can purchase your fishing permit at national park visitor centres.

    Visit our fees page for permit pricing.

  • Open seasons and closed waters Open waters
    Year round Bow River - from Hector Lake to east park boundary, including associated backwaters and oxbows. No ice fishing on the Bow River.
    May 18 to September 2, 2024 Ghost Lakes (3), Lake Minnewanka reservoir, Two Jack Lake reservoir, Vermilion Lakes (3) and adjacent inflow streams and beaver ponds.
    June 29 to September 1, 2024 All tributaries of the Bow River except the Cascade River (see below).
    June 29 to October 31, 2024 Cascade River and tributaries above Lake Minnewanka reservoir (excluding closed waters).
    July 1 to August 15, 2024 Owen Creek
    June 29 to October 31, 2024 All other waters except closed waters.

    Closed waters
    The following waterbodies are closed to water activities including fishing:
    • Bow River from Bow Lake outlet to Hector Lake inlet
    • Babel Creek
    • Johnson Lake reservoir, adjacent wetland and outflow creek to confluence with Cascade River
    • Helen Creek
    • Little Herbert Lake
    • Hidden Lake
    • Margaret Lake
    • Mystic Lake and outlet downstream to confluence with 40-mile Creek
    • Outlet Creek
    • Sawback Lake
    • Sawback Creek
    • Rainbow Lake
    • Elk Lake
    • Cuthead Creek
    • Spray River above Spray Lakes reservoir
    • Castleguard River - the upper portion of the river located in the Zone I - Special Preservation Area
    • Cave and Basin marsh system
    • Fish Lakes - the two Fish Lakes nearest campsite Mo 18
    • Lake Agnes
    • Luellen Lake - outflow stream from fisheries’ boundary markers, downstream to the confluence of the outflow stream and Johnston Creek
    • Marvel Lake and outlet downstream to confluence with Bryant Creek
    • All tributaries and associated lakes in the Clearwater and Siffleur river systems, excluding Isabella Lake.
  • Catch and possession limits
    Mandatory catch and release except for Lake Minnewanka lake trout.

    Whirling disease was detected in Johnson Lake and the Bow River in 2016. The movement of fish is the leading cause of spread for whirling disease. As a result, Parks Canada requires anglers to release all fish in the same place they were caught. The exception is lake trout from Lake Minnewanka. Lake trout is less susceptible to whirling disease. You must correctly identify your catch. If you are not sure, release it immediately.

    Species Limit
    Lake trout from Lake Minnewanka reservoir 2
    All other species 0
    Maximum daily catch and possession limit 0

     If a fish has been filleted, two fillets will be considered one fish.

How to identify your catch

Anglers are responsible for correctly distinguishing one fish species from another. If you are not sure which species you have caught, release it immediately. There are zero possession limits for many native species.

  • Help released fish survive

    Give a released fish the best chance for survival by following these suggestions:

    1. Minimize the time you handle a fish. A fish handled too long may not survive even if released. Release fish as quickly as possible after capture.
    2. Always bring fish up from depth slowly. Fish brought up too quickly will rupture their air bladders and die.
    3. Keep the fish in the water at all times when handling and releasing.
    4. Handle the fish with bare, wet hands. Keep fingers away from the gills and do not squeeze to avoid injuring the fish.
    5. Remove the hook gently with needle-nosed pliers. If the hook is deep, cut the leader rather than pulling the hook out. The hook will decompose in time.
    6. If the fish is bleeding excessively, it will likely not survive if released. Kill it and include as part of your catch if permitted. Release all zero-possession species.
    7. The use of barbless hooks is recommended to make release easier. Hooks can be made barbless by flattening the barb with needle-nosed pliers.
    8. Single hooks are recommended to release fish more easily.
    9. Angling for trout in waters exceeding 18° C reduces the ability of these fish to survive the ‘catch and release’ process. Please consider not angling during exceptionally hot weather periods.
  • Fish consumption advisory (Mercury)

    Mercury is a toxin that can affect human health. It can come from natural sources (e.g. soils and sediments) or be transported to the parks (e.g., through the atmosphere) and can then concentrate in top predators. Fish tested in some park waters have elevated mercury levels. Parks Canada, in consultation with Health Canada, has established consumption guidelines and precautionary consumption advice (where no mercury data exist) for women of reproductive age and children.

    Consumption guidelines

    Serving size** Servings number
    Women of reproductive age 113 g (4 oz.) 4 / month
    Children (under 15 yrs) 70 g (2.5 oz.) 3 /month

    ** A 100 g serving is approximately the size of a deck of standard playing cards.

  • Definitions

    Angling: Fishing with a hook and line held in the hand or with a hook, line and rod held in the hand. It does not mean fishing with a set line.

    Artificial flies: A single or double hook on a common shank, dressed with silk, tinsel, wood, fur, feathers or other materials (no lead), or any combination thereof without a spinning device, whether attached to the hook or line.

    Natural bait ban: You can only use lures made of feathers, fibre, rubber, wood, metal or plastic. No edible material (plant or animal products), scented lures or chemical attractants are permitted.

    Tributary: Any water course which flows into another body of water. This includes a tributary of a tributary. Lakes are excluded unless otherwise specified.

    Trout: For the purposes of this summary, the word trout includes char species.

For further information contact:
Report suspicious activities: 403-762-1470

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