Closer to Home: Fishing on the River

Editor’s note: Once a week here at Transforming Edmonton we’ve been sharing some of our favourite places in the city. The pandemic has shortened the travel horizon for many. And that’s okay, because there are plenty of gems in different parts of our city that are worth a visit. Each week a different City of Edmonton team member gives you a story about a fave spot closer to home. This is Stephen Phinney’s view.

If you want to go fishing, you don’t have to go far. Not many people know how close good fishing is here in our City.

I love fishing in our River Valley. On many of our sunny summer and fall days and evenings, I can be found at my favourite fishing spot on the North Saskatchewan River: Dawson Park.

 In the winter, you can prop your fishing rod in the snow. The rest of the year, a rod holder comes in handy.
At Dawson Park.

Close to the Riverside Golf course, at the boat launch in Dawson Park, I join many people enjoying the outdoors. It’s so peaceful and beautiful. Many other people fish there, too. Sometimes on the weekend, it’s so busy that you can’t find a spot along the river.
Dawson Park has good washroom facilities and BBQ pits if you want to enjoy a fire after a long day of fishing.

There is a wide variety of fish in the river. I’ve caught goldeye, walleye, pike, sauger, suckers and sturgeon. Though not a sturgeon as big as the infamous one known to live in the North Saskatchewan—Edmonton’s own version of the Loch Ness Monster. (It’s not fishing without a few tall tales.)

Up against the walleye

It doesn’t happen often, but on the odd occasion if the fish aren’t biting, I can also pass the time gold panning. I pan for gold, right there in the river. I love finding light flakes of gold, as well as lots of other fun treasures. The river is low right now though, so the fish are pretty easy to catch. Sometimes I end up with two fish on one line.

My next favourite fishing spot is Gold Bar Park. There are many fish, and I can fish there year round. In the summer, Gold Bar Park has another advantage—a sandy beach the length of a football field. In the winter, the water does not freeze around the shore. There’s clean, oxygenated water running from the treatment plant and the fish like hanging out there. Another tip for winter fishing—I can prop my fishing pole in the snow and just wait for the fish to bite.

A big warning though to anyone who wants to fish in the winter: never at any time is it safe to be on the river ice in the winter. Fish from the shore only.

The fish are hopping out of the water these days. Two fish on one line!
At Gold Bar Park.

My third favourite fishing spot is the stocked pond at Hermitage Park. Stocked by the Province, one can take fresh fish home for dinner or even better, barbecue it right there at the picnic sites.

There are so many reasons I love being able to fish in the City. I love helping the kids who want to fish and are intrigued with fishing in the river. I share tips and tricks about bait and equipment.

It’s affordable and fun. I stick to my method and I always catch in the river—every time.

It’s easy to forget one is in the city, unless one hears sirens in the background. Early in the morning, with the mist over the river, it’s a wonderful place to be—in the middle of nature right in the heart of Edmonton.

Ripples on the North Saskatchewan River spread fun in all seasons.

For more information: Fishing in Edmonton

Editor’s note: All Sport Fishing Regulations apply to fishing in the North Saskatchewan River. An Alberta Sport Fishing Licence is required if you are 16 to 65 years of age. It is not recommended that people eat fish from the North Saskatchewan River more than once a week.