Astotin Lake is my favorite destination in Elk Island National Park, which is famous for its bison. I’ve been there both in summer and winter times. It’s a beautiful lake, great for recreational activities such as kayaking, bird/wildlife watching, camping, etc.
Just tie a line and a bait to an ice fishing pole or even a twig. Baits can be bacon, sausage, and even dog food. Or, you can use a bait trap to catch them.
According to 2015 Alberta Sport Fishing Regulations, crayfish cannot be used as bait fish and it is unlawful to possess live crayfish.
“Crayfish are native to the Beaver River system. However, they appear to have been illegally introduced into many Alberta waters and may be adversely affecting aquatic ecosystems.”
“Some people have expressed a desire to consume crayfish. In all waters other than the Beaver River, people may catch crayfish for consumption. Legal capture methods include angling (sport fishing regulations apply) or catching them by hand. No licence is required to capture crayfish by hand. The retention and transport of live crayfish is illegal and all retained crayfish must be immediately killed to prevent the spread of this species. Please help prevent the spread of invasive species.”
Locations crayfish have been found in Alberta:
North Saskatchewan River; Peace River; the trout pond in Lacombe Park; Cardiff pond near Morinville; Heritage Lake; Nose Creek; Rotary Park pond; and other places. Crayfish can be caught close to shore as they usually live under rocks or other structures.
North Saskatchewan River offers people with great opportunities to enjoy fantastic fishing without having to drive far away from their home, especially for people living in Edmonton and area. The river produces good Walleye, Northern Pike, Goldeye, Mountain Whitefish, Burbot, Lake Sturgeon, and five species of Suckers (they are fun to catch, even though not known as game fish). For those who are new and experienced to the sport, please read my article about 6 factors every fisherpeople need to know to catch any fish successfully and consistently.
So, let’s get straight down to business. Here are a few locations that I fish regularly within the Edmonton city limit.
Location 1: a storm water outfall in Hermitage Park in northeast Edmonton (GPS coordinates: 53.587385, -113.370447).
Location 2: Whitemud Creek mouth where it meets North Saskatchewan River (GPS coordinates: 53.505516, -113.561743).
Location 3: the storm water outfall across Whitemud Creek, under Quesnell Bridge (GPS coordinates: 53.507426, -113.565987).
Other fishing locations: look for storm water outfalls, creek mouths, bridges, river bends, and other structures that may provide food, shelter, resting places (slow moving water pools, eddies, deep holes, etc.).
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, there are many fish species that can be caught in North Saskatchewan River. For me, I often catch Walleye, Northern Pike, Goldeye, Mountain Whitefish, and White Sucker. Here is a pdf file for fish identification from Alberta Regulations.
Recommended lures and baits:
Lures: soft plastic grubs or worms (e.g., Berkley Powerbaits); spoons (e.g., Dardevle five diamonds spoons); crankbaits (e.g., Rapala Shad Rap). Read here about the 7 soft plastic lures that I carry regularly.
Baits: earthworms (red wiggler or night crawler); cut shrimp; minnows.
Live earthworms worked the best for sucker fish species, goldeye, and mountain whitefish. Earthworms also worked well on all other fish species. Berkley Powerbaits grubs or worms worked well for walleye and pike.
Dropshot rig has been my favorite because it’s very versatile. You can cast and retrieve, jig, troll, or do fine presentations when fish is finicky. Otherwise, Caroline rig and Pickerel rig are popular. The water in North Saskatchewan river is usually not very clear, so line thickness does not play a big role in catching fish there. In addition, common game fish species like pike and walleye are not line sensitive (unlike trout, which feeds mainly using eye sights). So, 6 lb test, clear monofilament line is good most of the time. If you want to catch big pike, either use a stronger line or use a stainless steel fishing wire as a leader to fight against the sharp teeth of pike. I had a 50% chance of landing 50+ cm pike using 4 lb test monofilament line (the 4 lb test line broke for 50% of fish hooked).
I have caught fish in the morning, during the day and before sunset in North Saskatchewan River. But people generally agree that one hour or two before or after sunrise or sunset are the most productive, as most fish feed actively in these time periods.
Fish feed most actively after winters (they are hungry) and before winters come (to store energy). Average temperatures of May to September (5 months) are typically above 10 degrees Celsius in Edmonton. These months are great for fishing in the river. The river water tends to be muddy in summers when snow melt and rain water runoff bring soil (mainly from the riverbank) to the water. The water clears out in falls. But no matter what color the water is, you can always go fishing and be productive. Actually, if you want to catch sauger, you’d better find muddy/darker water near structures like outfalls.
Each fish species has its own preferred water temperatures. Knowing the fish’s preferences is the key to locate and catch them (especially in lakes). 12 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit) is a good rule-of-thumb preferred temperature for northern fish species. Below is an example preferred temperature chart for different fish species. In North Saskatchewan River, the water can be as deep as 5 meters at some holes. Fish dive deep before winters come.
Some fish species (e.g., sauger and walleye) are sensitive to light. So, you could be more productive on cloudy, dark days than sunny, bright ones.
For more information:
If you are interested in investing a fish finder to help you save tons of time trying to find/locate fish, read my article: How to Use a Sonar Fish Finder to Help You Catch More Fish Faster and Easier.
Read also about what the City has to say about North Saschatchewan River @ City of Edmonton website.
Thank you for reading this post. Leave a comment and let me know what’s in your mind 🙂