20 Alberta hot spots for cutthroat trout

If you could only wet a line for one species of fish in your home province or territory, what would it be? That’s the question we asked ourselves at Outdoor Canada when selecting our 2019 Canadian fishing hot spots. For more bucket-list species and hot spots, see our complete list.

ALBERTA: WESTSLOPE CUTTHROAT TROUT

Oldman River

Westslope cutthroat trout in Alberta

Why this is one of Canada’s must-have fishing experiences

Despite their geographically confusing name, Alberta’s westslope cutthroat trout are actually found on the eastern slopes of the Rockies. And while all trout are pretty, cutties may be the prettiest of all, with their arc of dark spots on flanks ranging from silver to yellow-green. Capping it all is that distinctive red-orange slash below the jaw, giving the fish their slightly gruesome moniker.

Native to Alberta’s Bow and Oldman River drainages—and stocked elsewhere—cutties are found in rivers ranging from mid-size down to tiny tributaries, plus a scattering of alpine lakes. And since they require especially clear, cold, clean water, these fish truly live up to that old adage about trout living in beautiful places. Food is relatively scarce in those waters, however, so cutties are typically hungry, and willing to take a whack at almost anything edible looking that drifts by or swims within range.

Alberta’s record cutthroat is a thunderous nine pounds, but most anglers would consider a two-pounder a trophy. Not that cutties are coveted for their size. Instead, fishing for westslope cutthroats offers the complete, classic trout experience: hiking into secluded, stunning surroundings and using simple fly-fishing or spinning gear to bring a magnificent little fish to hand.

WHEN TO GO: Mid-June to October

HOT TACTIC: Drifting dry flies in both lakes and rivers

LEARN MORE: www.travelalberta.com

THE HOT SPOTS

  1. Blackstone River
  2. Bow River
  3. Carbondale River
  4. Castle River system
  5. Crowsnest River
  6. Dutch Creek
  7. Highwood River
  8. Hummingbird Creek
  9. Livingstone River
  10. Lost Creek
  11. Lynx Creek
  12. North Ram River
  13. Oldman River
  14. Racehorse Creek
  15. Rawson Lake
  16. Rummell Lake
  17. South Ram River
  18. St. Mary River
  19. Stenton Lake
  20. Upper/Lower Kananaskis Lakes
@OutdoorCanada says catching a cutthroat trout is one of Canada’s must-have #fishing experiences. Here’s where and how @TravelAlberta Click to Tweet

Send this to a friend