Hiking and Fishing Chester Lake Alberta
A few of us from Zinger Fishing hiked up to Chester Lake last week to try and land some mountain Dolly Varden trout. It was a little chilly as it was the first week in October, but we had a blast! The hike was beautiful and not too intense whatsoever. Between the three of us that went, we caught 7 cutthroat trout and 7 Dolly Varden trout.
This blog will touch on the hike, Chester Lake, fish species, and what fly patterns and lures to use to catch fish. Let’s dive in!
Where is Chester Lake?
The parking lot to Chester Lake is approximately 2 hours SW of Calgary (147km).
Chester Lake is situated in the Rocky Mountains in Kananaskis country, south of Banff and Canmore.
The road off the highway to the parking lot is gravel and quite bumpy.
This Google link below will take you to the parking lot. From there you will need to hike to the lake.
How long of a hike is it to Chester Lake?
- Hiking: 9.3-kilometer round trip. 1.5 to 2 hours hike in and 1 to 1.25 hours hike out.
- Elevation: 433m
- Difficulty: Moderate
Can you hike to Chester Lake year-round?
Yes. The trail is open year-round and there are cross country skiing trails as well. Keep in mind that the lake will be frozen over in the winter months. There are times throughout the year where the trail may close due to weather conditions as it is in the mountains.
Is there phone service?
No. There isn’t much for phone service on most hikes in the Kananaskis country. It is best to let someone know when you will be checking in with them.
Wearing the right hiking gear
Mountain hikes can always be a bit chilly when you hike that high up, but depending on the month that you go, it can get very cold. It’s always best practice to take up more clothes than you need, just in case. Usually, you will sweat going up, but if you want to stay at the lake for awhile, it will get cold when you stop moving.
The trail can be icy and muddy, so good hiking boots are recommended. The trail is well travelled, but you may want spikes or chains for your boots if you are heading out in the winter months.
What species of fish is in Chester Lake?
Cutthroat Trout and Dolly Varden Trout. The cold mountain water gives them an amazing color combination. Some are extremely dark with faint orange spots, but some have very bright orange spots and white lines on their fins. They are some of the coolest looking fish that we have ever caught.
The lake is very clear, so you can often see the fish swimming around. We didn’t catch anything too big, but there might be some monsters in there. Most of the fish we caught were skinny and around 8-12 inches in length.
Check out Alberta's fishing regulations before heading out.
What fly patterns and lures to use?
We tried fly rods and spinner rods throughout the lake.
5 of diamonds did land one fish, but the rest were caught on fly patterns.
Green Warrior Caddis
If you have a spinner fishing rod, you can tie a woolly bugger on and add some heavier weights about 6 inches up the line from the hook. Cast out and slowly retrieve your line, not so slow that the hook and weights sink to the bottom, but not fast either.
I spent the first 2 hours retrieving my line in a faster motion, but then when the sun came out around the mountain, I was able to see the fish. I slowed my retrieve down and started catching fish one after another!
Overall experience hiking and fishing Chester Lake
The hike is beautiful and not too long. If you plan on fishing, this hike is perfect as it won’t take too long to get to the lake, then you will have more time to fish.
The scenery is perfect for photos, especially the back side of the lake as there has been rockslides.
If you continue up the path from the lake, you will get to the elephant rocks that are pretty cool as well. They too are great for photos! Have fun and stay safe out there!
If you like reading about fly fishing, our Zinger Fishing blog has a wide variety of different articles. We cover places to fish, what patterns to use, techniques, gear, and everything else to help fellow anglers land more fish in their nets.