Family Fishing Weekends

COVID-19 response: temporary closures

The Government of Alberta has temporarily closed front counters at all Fish and Wildlife offices across the province.

  • You can contact Fish and Wildlife offices using the phone numbers listed on the Fish and Wildlife - Contacts page.
  • For recreational sportfishing or hunting information, please visit AlbertaRELM or call the AlbertaRELM Help Desk at 1-888-944-5494.
  • Vehicle access is now permitted at parking lots and staging areas in provincial parks and public land. Facilities like playgrounds and washrooms remain temporarily closed. For more information, visit the Alberta Parks advisories page.

For more information about Alberta’s COVID-19 response, visit COVID-19 info for Albertans.

Alberta’s Next Family Fishing Weekend: February 13-15, 2021

Mother, father and two children fishing at edge of pond

Fishing is a fun way for friends and family to connect with some of Alberta’s greatest natural resources - our lakes, rivers, streams and the fish that live in them.

During Family Fishing Weekends, Albertans and visitors are encouraged to give fishing a try on waterbodies with open fishing seasons without having to purchase a sportfishing licence.

Alberta hosts two Family Fishing Weekends each year:

  • February – over the Family Day long weekend
  • July – during the weekend following Canada Day

You can also participate in National Fishing Week each year during the second week of July.

Fishing regulations always apply

Keep in mind fishing regulations still apply. Alberta's sportfishing regulations apply all year to anglers of all ages and residences, including during the Family Fishing Weekends. For more information, visit:

Fishing in National Parks

Free fishing is not available in national parks. See National Park websites for specific rules:

No fishing is permitted in Elk Island National Park.

Take the GoFISH! Challenge

This fishing season, participate in a new GoFISH! challenge to learn more about responsible angling, Alberta’s fish species and to become a steward of fish and their habitats. Visit the Go FISH! webpage for:

  • more resources
  • an interactive fishing map
  • the opportunity to ask a fisheries biologist a question.

Once you've completed a challenge in each category, you can fill out a survey for the chance to add something useful to your own tackle box. If you complete all of the challenges we have available, you will be entered to win an extra prize!

There are two ways to play:

  • Download a Go FISH! Bingo card
  • Play online by liking each challenge and sharing your experiences as you complete them.

Be a responsible angler

With every cast, you have the opportunity to help keep our fish populations healthy for future generations to enjoy. Whether you are new to the sport or an experienced angler, here are some tips and resources to help ensure you are a responsible angler.

Know before you go

  • Review the regulations of the waterbody you are visiting. For example, season, rules for bait, catch limits including the number and sizes of fish you are allowed to keep.
  • Practice identifying sport fish for the waterbody you are fishing. Know how to identify sport fish and aquatic invasive species.
  • Brush up on your fish handling skills:
    • Reduce the time you fight and handle fish before releasing them; the short the time, the better!
    • Keep fish wet; do not expose the fish to air unless it meets the regulations and you want to keep it.
  • Organize your fishing kit, and be sure to include:
    • Items to support proper fish handling (soft cloth glove, pliers, rubber net, nail clippers for cutting the line)
    • Items to help follow regulations (measuring tape or bump board, fishing regulations)
    • Items to help you land your catch (extra tackle, knot tying guides)
    • Items to keep you safe (polarized sun glasses, brimmed hat, sunscreen, water, snacks, depth sounder, first aid kit)
  • Check if you are going to be fishing in a Whirling Disease positive area to ensure you report any fish displaying symptoms.
  • Help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and diseases by cleaning, draining and drying your gear (See “Once you are done fishing” section below for details).

While you are fishing

  • If you don’t know, let it go! Sometimes it can be difficult to identify your catch. If you don’t know what species of fish you caught, let it go.
  • Handle fish with care:
    • #Keepemwet – Keep fish wet; do not expose a fish to air unless it meets the regulations and you plan to keep it.
    • Avoid spoiling the meat of the fish you harvested by keeping it cold.
  • Never move fish from one waterbody to another. This is illegal, and can directly affect the health of the fishery and the aquatic ecosystems these fish live in.
  • Report any invasive species at EDDMaps Alberta or on the smart phone app.

Once you are done fishing

  • Clean, drain and dry your gear to stop the spread of whirling disease and aquatic invasive species.
    • Clean – remove all mud, plants, and debris from your fishing equipment and any gear that has been in the water.
    • Drain – pull the drain plug in your watercraft, and empty any standing water from your gear, such as bait buckets.
    • Dry – allow all watercraft and gear to dry completely between trips

Fish stocked waters

Alberta has approximately 300 stocked waterbodies for anglers to enjoy. They are stocked annually with:

  • brook trout
  • brown trout
  • cutthroat trout
  • rainbow trout
  • tiger trout

These fish are raised in hatcheries around the province. To learn more about Alberta’s fish stocking program, visit:

Find a stocked lake near you and enjoy catching a memory on your family fishing weekend experience.

Purchase a WIN Card and fishing licence

Outside of the Family Fishing Weekends, a Wildlife Identification Number (WIN) card and Alberta sportfishing licence are required for:

  • Alberta residents age 16 to 64
  • Canadian residents (from outside Alberta) age 16 and older
  • Non-residents (from outside Canada) age 16 and older

To purchase your WIN card and fishing licence online, visit:

Curious about where the money goes from purchasing a licence? Check out this infographic.


Updated: Sep 17, 2020