Fly Fishing in Saskatchewan's Narrow Hills
A little over seven years ago, as a university student in desperate need of a break from school and work, I drove my car down the gravel roads of Narrow Hills Provincial Park in search of the Gem Lakes. I didn’t know much about fly fishing or the Narrow Hills but I planned on spending the weekend there, sleeping in my car and trying my luck at fly fishing. All of my online research indicated that the Narrow Hills is the best location to fly fish relatively close to Saskatoon and that the Gem Lakes in particular were worthy of some attention.
I was blown away by the beauty of the lakes and thrilled I had managed to pick an unusually warm fall weekend to fish there. The Gem Lakes are group of seven small, deep, clear bodies of water nestled within steep hills covered by a mix of jack pine, poplar and old-growth spruce. When you look down on the lakes from the surrounding hills you realize just how fitting their names are. Like many who have visited them, you may find yourself drawn to come back again and again.
I would like to say I caught a ton of fish on that first trip, but the truth is that I only managed to catch two fish at the crack of dawn on my last day. I had just picked up fly fishing that summer and lacked the necessary skills and knowledge. As time and my skills progressed I realized the Gem Lakes held some good trout fishing and so did many other waters in and around Narrow Hills Provincial Park.
With a dozen stocked trout lakes in the park and another eight within a half hour drive, it’s easy see why so many fly fishers flock to the area. The rolling sandy hills are beautiful and you’re never more than 15 minutes drive from another lake. The stocked trout species include rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, splake and tiger trout. Native species include northern pike, perch, lake trout and walleye. Lakes in the area range from well-developed fishing spots to remote waters, accessible only by ATV or snowmobile.
Each season offers its own beautiful views. A place you might drive or hike past one season will stop you in your tracks the next. For that reason I still find myself visiting the Narrow Hills year round. Pack a camera along with your fishing gear and do some exploring.
My three favourite excursions in the Narrow Hills are hiking the Gem Lakes, driving Esker Road east of Lower Fishing Lake, and taking the old 920 road to the lower reaches of McDougal Creek. All three of these places are great for beginners looking to hone their fly fishing skills while enjoying great scenery. On the Esker Road, Mackie Lake frequently offers good fishing for pan-sized trout eager to bite. It’s a perfect spot to do some belly boat fishing.
If you are eager to experience fly fishing in Saskatchewan and are looking for a place to meet other anglers who can teach you the sport, check out the Saskatchewan Fly Fishing Federation’s website to find a Fly Fishing Club near you.
About the Authour:
Levi Kalinsky is a Saskatoon-based geologist who enjoys camping, fly fishing, canoeing and exploring the lesser known places in Saskatchewan.