Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. -- Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
You will find angling to be like the virtue of
humility, which has a calmness of spirit and a world of other blessings
attending upon it. -- Izaak Walton (1593-1683)
Saskatchewan boasts some of the best freshwater fishing in the
world. But for those not well familiar with our geography and recreational
opportunities, the options might seem paralyzing: Saskatchewan is
home to 100,000 lakes and hundreds of rivers and streams, three dozen provincial
and many regional parks and scores of "outfitting" firms who
specialize in accommodating anglers.
Relax. Virtual Saskatchewan is here to help (updated for 2013-14).
Here's what follows:
- a quick run-down on Saskatchewan's seven most popular game fish
and the best areas to catch them;
- descriptions of Saskatchewan's three fishing zones and the kind
of angling experience you might expect in each of them;
- limits and licences;
- all the links, addresses and phone numbers you'll need to book
a fishing vacation, or a vacation that includes a bit of fishing,
anywhere in the province.
In the end, the decision is yours. But we trust what follows will
make it a lot easier.
So what are we waiting for? Let's get our lines wet. . . .
Saskatchewan's Most Popular Game Fish
Northern Pike - These guys are the scrappers of the freshwater
fish world. They're found everywhere in Saskatchewan's lakes and
rivers, usually in relatively shallow water and often in or around
weed beds. They're a great eating fish, but mind the small bones.
Use various spoons, crank baits or line spinners. Average
weight: 1 to 2.5 kg (2 to 5 lb).
Walleye - The most popular game fish in Saskatchewan. Delicious.
Walleye prefer deeper waters, but are found in almost all but the
shallowest lakes. They like sandy bottoms or the protection of rock
jigs with bait, or jigging spoons. Average weight: 0.5 to 1.5 kg
(1 to 3 lb).
Lake Trout - Saskatchewan's only native trout is common
to the cool, clear and deep waters in the northern half of the province.
This largest member of the trout family stays deep in the summer
time, requiring the use of steel-line rigs or jigs. In early spring
and fall, they're closer to the surface and can be caught by casting
or trolling. Use
crankbaits, spoons or even flies. Average weight: 1 to 1.5 kg (2
to 5 lb).
Arctic Grayling - Called the "sailfish of the north" because
of its large dorsal fin. And, as its name implies, it's found in
the cold, clear lakes and fast-moving streams of northern Saskatchewan.
Cast very small spinners and jigs, or try dry fly-fishing with dark
black gnats, dark cahill or brown hackle. Average weight: under
1 kg (2 lb).
Rainbow Trout - Successfully stocked in lakes throughout
the province. Best fished with light spinning or fly tackle, using
worms or a
variety of small spoons or spinners. Average weight: 0.5 to 1.8
kg (1 to 4 lb).
Brook Trout - Prized by many anglers, these guys prefer
cool, shady areas including deep holes, or behind rocks and logs.
Use dry or wet flies, or light spinners or spoons. Fly-fishing recommended
during insect hatches from mid-June to September. Average
weight: 0.5 to 1 kg (1 to 2 lb).
Yellow Perch - Great taste in a small package, and the perfect
fish for the kids to catch. These fellows prefer a sandy bottom.
Use the old hook, line and bob, or a light jig with a bit of beef,
an earthworm or a leech. Average
weight: approx. 250 grams (8 ounces).
Saskatchewan's Fishing Zones
Southern Zone — season runs from May 5, 2012 to March 31, 2013 (May 5, 2013 to March 31, 2014)
all photos courtesy Tourism Saskatchewan
The southern zone encompasses the prairie portion of the province,
where the vast majority of Saskatchewan's population resides. It
stretches from the American border in the south to Prince Albert
in the north - "north" is a relative term because Prince Albert
is actually located some 200 kms (120 miles) south of the geographical
centre of the province.
Let's explode a myth. Those who've only travelled our province
on the southerly Trans-Canada Highway have been known to report
Saskatchewan is flat, treeless and arid. In fact, cultivated farmland
accounts for less than a third of Saskatchewan's landscape. Overall,
13 per cent of the province is fresh water. In some of the northern
regions, 40 per cent of the area is water. One half of the province
While it's true that much of the southern region is given over
to farming, it is not a never-ending wheat field. There are good
fishing lakes and beautiful parks in this part of the province.
And that means great recreational opportunities for those looking
to include fishing as one of several outdoor activities to be enjoyed
on a vacation. Because of the popularity and diversity of activities
available at many lakes in the southern region, we categorize it
as a "family fishing" area.
The huge Lake Diefenbaker, for example, is a very popular place
to fish for big walleye and northern pike - a recent survey suggests
it's the most popular fishing lake in the province. However, there
are three provincial parks abutting the lake and it's a favoured
spot for weekend camping, hiking, swimming and water sports. The
Village of Elbow boasts a beautiful little harbour and marina that's
home to dozens of yachts, sailboats and motorboats. In other words,
there's plenty of activity, in addition to fishing, on and around
Busier still, because of their relatively smaller size, are the
so-called "fishing lakes" of the Qu'Appelle Valley, located about
an hour northeast of Regina. It's one of Regina's "cottage country"
areas and it's home to one of Saskatchewan's most intensively-used
provincial parks: Echo Valley. But while the picture-perfect valley
is an extremely popular recreation area, its lakes are well-known
for good walleye and perch fishing.
In the north-eastern portion of the southern fishing zone, situated
amid rolling forest land inhabited by elk, moose, deer and black
bear, lies Greenwater Lake Provincial Park. Greenwater is popular
with pike and walleye anglers, while nearby Steistol
Lake is stocked with trout. In the northwestern portion of the
southern zone, a morning of angling for pike or walleye at Battlefords
Provincial Park can be followed by an afternoon at the beach, or
18 holes at the immaculate grass-green course that hugs Jackfish
Central Fishing Zone — season runs from May 15, 2012 to March 31, 2013 (May 15, 2013 to March 31, 2014)
In general terms, Saskatchewan's southern fishing zone ends where
the boreal forest begins. And to many Saskatchewan anglers, at least,
this is where the real fishing begins.
It's important to note the transition from the southern "family"
fishing zone to the central "serious angling" zone is not nearly
so abrupt as would be suggested by the No. 55 Highway that divides
the two. The southern part of the central zone is a great area for
families seeking a nice compromise between solid "northern" fishing
and family fun. It's home to Prince Albert National Park and four
popular provincial parks, and it's one of the most beautiful family
vacation areas in the province.
Dense aspen and pine forest, rolling hills and plenty of lakes
and streams await visitors to the central fishing zone of Saskatchewan.
The lakes are typically much clearer and somewhat cooler than those
in the south. And because this zone represents the edge of Saskatchewan's
vast northern wilderness, wildlife is abundant.
In the southwest portion of the central zone lies Meadow Lake Provincial
Park, a sprawling park located just inside the tree-line and featuring
a chain of 25 river-fed lakes. Several lakes in the east end of
the park are popular with cottagers, while the westerly ones are,
for the most part, less developed. Groceries, golf, mini-golf, tennis,
great sandy beaches and small-town amenities are never further than
a half-hour drive from just about anywhere in the park. There's
very good northern pike, walleye and perch fishing here, with several
outfitters offering boat/canoe rental, filleting and/or freezing
Prince Albert National Park, about an hour north of The City of
Prince Albert, is one of the most beautiful parks in Canada. It
features an abundance of wildlife including black bear, lynx, woodland
caribou, elk, timber wolf, and the second-largest colony of white
pelicans in Canada. The cabin of the famous 1930s naturalist Grey
Owl, situated on Ajawaan Lake, can be reached by foot, canoe or
The tourist town of Waskesiu, on Waskesiu Lake, offers all amenities
(except an automated teller), including a wide range of dining,
accommodation and recreational opportunities like the spectacular
golf course. Other lakes in this park are undeveloped and some,
like Namekus, don't allow motor boats. Record lake trout have been
caught in Kingsmere Lake, while walleye and northern pike are plentiful
in all lakes. Because of its popularity and the diversity of recreational
opportunities it affords its many visitors, however, we'd recommend
the park to the more casual angler wishing to experience a wide
range of outdoor activities. A special licence required to fish
in the park can be purchased at the park gates.
Candle Lake and Narrow Hills provincial parks, located just east
of Prince Albert National Park, are smaller, boreal forest parks
with good pike and walleye fishing. Candle features a wheelchair-accessible
trout pond. Further east, but still in the southern part of the
central zone, there's very good pike and walleye fishing at Tobin
Lake, and in the waterways of the Cumberland Delta.
Travelling north on any one of the three main roadways in Saskatchewan's
central fishing zone leads to angling heaven.
The western portion of the central zone is accessed by Highway
No. 155, except for the Dore/Smoothstone/Sled-lakes region, which
is reached by road from Highway No. 55 or by air via the strip at
Fishing is the No. 1 recreational activity in this region, although
a number of the outfitters accommodate family vacations and many
provide hunting packages in season. The cooler and often deeper
waters of the north spell lake trout and Arctic grayling to many
anglers, but walleye and northern pike remain staples. The landscape
varies from boreal forest in the southwest to the more rugged and
rocky Precambrian Shield in the north and east. The Shield is truly
Saskatchewan's lake country. It's here where lakes, rivers and streams
account for up to 40 per cent of the area and it's here, as well,
where one of the biggest concentration of outfitters can be found.
More than two dozen outfitting firms, mostly fly-in camps, are
located in the La Ronge district of Saskatchewan. La Ronge Provincial
Park, featuring big Lac La Ronge with its reputed 1,000 islands,
can be reached by Highway No. 2. A similar number of outfitters
are located in the eastern portion of the central zone, in the Jan
Lake/Creighton/Pelican Narrows region abutting the Manitoba boundary.
Most of the latter fishing camps can be accessed via the Hanson
Northern Fishing Zone — season runs from May 25, 2012 to April 15, 2013 (May 25, 2013 to April 15, 2014)
If you really want to get away from it all, this is the place to
Most of the dozens of fishing camps in the northern zone are fly-in,
although a few can reached by the mining road that leads up to Wollaston
Lake in northeastern Saskatchewan.
While most of the northern zone is situated within the Canadian
Shield, the landscapes can vary immensely. The south shore of massive
Lake Athabasca in the northwest corner of Saskatchewan is home to
100-km stretch of active sand dunes, some reaching 30 metres (100
feet) in height. Just 100 kms north of the lake, the landscape takes
a far more rugged turn with Precambrian rocks rising more than 100
metres (325 feet) above the surrounding terrain. Steep slopes are
treeless, while black spruce and jack pine are prevalent in the
lower slopes, and white spruce is found in the valleys and shorelines.
Here, as elsewhere in Saskatchewan, some outfitters are expanding
the range of services they offer in order to appeal to lovers of
nature, whether they fish or not. Some camps include aboriginal
heritage programs, sightseeing and photography tours, and even trap-line
and snow-sled expeditions in the winter.
Many of Saskatchewan's fly-in fishing camps have "outposts" on
nearby lakes, where small parties of anglers can be flown by pontoon
plane to spend a day or two in a different fishing venue. Other
camps offer exclusive use of their lakes and facilities to parties
as small as six people. Transportation through connecting flights
can be arranged from anywhere in the world.
A trip to a premium, fly-in fishing camp in northern Saskatchewan
can cost upwards of $500 (Cdn) per person, per day. These camps
are well-versed in catering to the international sports person.
Accommodations are first class, and some camps employ blue-ribbon
chefs to insure every meal is a special experience. Guests need
bring nothing but their fishing gear, toiletries, clothes and personal
The Rules (licences and limits)
For the most up-to-date information on fishing licences for provincial residents and visitors, as well as for
information on the type, number and size of fish you're allowed to catch, please check out the fishing page on Environment Saskatchewan's website.
Additional Information and Contacts
For (free) professional travel counselling, information, direct
bookings, a free copy of the Saskatchewan Fishing and Hunting
Guide (which includes brief write-ups on more than 200 outfitters),
accommodations/resort/campground guide, the Saskatchewan Vacation
Guide and/or a map of Saskatchewan (free to non-residents only),
call toll free (in USA and Canada) 1-877-237-2273.
Or check out Tourism Saskatchewan's
official web site.
Know what you want, but need some help selecting an outfitter?
Check out the Saskatchewan Outfitters
Association or phone them at 1-306-763-5434.
Plenty of good information on provincial parks and recreational
sites can be found at the Saskatchewan
Provincial Parks site.
Wanna contact a Saskatchewan fishing specialist? Email fisheries biologist Murray Koob or phone him at
General fishing questions? Phone Saskatchewan Environment's toll free inquiry number 1-800-567-4224.
Good luck and great fishing!
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