The Red Deer River anchors recreational fishing in the Red Deer County and features quite a diversity of game fish: brown trout, goldeye, mountain whitefish, northern pike, sauger and walleye, with the occasional lake sturgeon as a bonus. With the exception of brown trout, which are a species that originated in Europe, all these species are native to the Red Deer River. The brown trout were stocked in the Red Deer River below Glennifer Reservoir by the provincial government dating back to 1932, with supplemental plantings of wild brown trout transplanted from the Bow River in 1992. They suffered a set back from devastating floods in 1995 and 2005 and are slowly recovering in numbers but are still a major draw because of their large 22 inch+ size. Trophy size brown trout of this size are rare in western Canada.
Two local fly-fishing operations provide guided float trips for trophy brown trout on the Red Deer River: Fly Fish Alberta and Tailwater Drifters. Generally, float trips take place above the City of Red Deer and below the Dickson Dam on Glennifer Reservoir in what’s called a “Tailwater” section noted for its stable flows. This section of the Red Deer River is a beautiful stretch of water in a very scenic, pastoral setting.
The Red Deer River has two major tributaries below Glennifer Reservoir: the Little Red Deer River and the Medicine River.
The Little Red Deer River is a popular destination for brown trout fishing, as well as brook trout and mountain whitefish, with the odd bull trout.
The mouth of the Medicine River at its confluence with the Red Deer River is popular for pike, walleye, sauger, brown trout and mountain whitefish.
There are a couple of key lakes in the area, Gull Lake and Sylvan Lake, both of which are popular destinations of provincial significance.
Gull Lake features excellent fishing for northern pike and walleye during the open water season while Lake Whitefish are the main draw during the ice fishing season and attract thousands of anglers annually; burbot and northern pike are also very popular hard-water target species, as well as yellow perch.
Pike, walleye, yellow perch and Lake Whitefish are the main drawing cards for Sylvan Lake. Sylvan Lake has grown in popularity in Alberta’s fishing circles during the last decade as a go-to lake for both walleye and Lake Whitefish.
Glennifer Reservoir doesn’t boast great fishing but offers up pike, walleye, mountain whitefish and the odd brown trout.
Pine Lake is another popular local lake, featuring a yellow perch fishery.
The Dickson Trout Pond (13-35-03-W5) and Waskasoo Park Pond (18-38-27-W4) at Heritage Ranch are stocked with rainbow trout on an annual basis. Other water bodies that have been stocked in the last 10 years include: Hugh Bower Pond last stocked with rainbow trout in 2005, Bennett’s Pond last stocked with rainbow trout in 2006, Crooked Creek last stocked with brown trout in 2002 and Schrader Creek last stocked with brown trout in 2004. Stocked lakes are popular with locals during all season of the year, and they provide a stable recreational base for locals in particular.
There’s a Chinese proverb “When there are no fish in one spot, cast your hook in another” which is a testament to the variety of opportunities in the Red Deer County.