Fortress Lake Retreat & Fly Fish Alberta, AB

Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Expedition in Alberta, Canada

Fortress Lake Retreat & Fly Fish Alberta, AB


Celebrating 25 years in 2012, Fortress Lake Retreat offers guests a remote, backcountry experience in a UN World Heritage Site adjacent to Banff and Jasper National Parks. With brook trout up to 8 pounds, set in a valley dominated by towering mountain peaks and glaciers, this Rocky Mountain destination has been named the "World's Best Trophy Brook Trout Destination" by Fly Fisherman Magazine. We offer semi-guided fly fishing to our guests—you will be well tended to by our small guide team but not dominated. Our goal is to offer you a retreat where you feel free to relax and set your own timing while being well cared for. The Retreat itself is intimate by nature—3 or 4 staff hosting you in cabins and a yurt, to a maximum of 14 guests (typically 4 to 10).

Date Range

Ice out is late May and our operations begin June 1. We offer trips through the end of September and some years into mid-October.

What is Provided to Customer

"All Inclusive" on our website includes: the return float plane flight; semi-guided fly fishing (more guided than not); cabin accommodations; and all meals.

5% GST, 8% PST; alcohol, shop purchases, and gratuities are extra.

Region/Terrain Where You Fish

While Fortress Lake is surrounded by glaciers and peaks that tower a mile above the lake at the continental divide, the lake valley itself is at 4,500 feet and has a warm westerly influence. The lake is 11km (7mi) long and about a mile wide. We fish from 14-foot aluminum boats with 8 and 9.9HP engines. July - Oct sees good shoreline wade fishing. The outflowing Wood River is open until Sept. 1 and offers 1km of wade fishing. We access it by boat.

Typical Weather by Season

June is a good month for fishing with streamers and chironomids. The third week of June is often the peak of the chironomid hatch. While the fishing is good, the weather is variable. Hot and sunny (80s) weather is possible, but so is snow in the higher peaks and rain around the lake. A feature many guests come for in June is the avalanche viewing—the peaks around the lake put on a wonderful show with the last of the winter snow tumbling down. We watch safely from a mile back and enjoy the power of these events! Good fishing continues until the second week of July, when the summer heat causes runoff from the surrounding glaciers that can turn the lake off color until later in the month. We tend to recommend earlier or later July trips, though some excellent streamer fishing can occur in milky water. Many years, the lake remains in excellent shape through July. In late July, the nymphing and streamer fishing is good. August sees excellent late evening dry-fly fishing with caddis and some mouse pattern takes. The brook trout begin to really color up later in July and, by late August, some males are almost black with crimson red highlights. Sight fishing for large individual fish or pods of 3- to 4-pound fish begins mid-August and carries through October. September offers excellent sight fishing.


Sample of Typical Itinerary

We are open June 1 to mid October. We offer 4-, 5-, and 8-day fly-in packages (Mon - Fri; Fri - Mon; Mon - Mon; or Fri - Fri). Guests can also hike in and choose their days and duration. Luckily, our water is not affected by rain. The flight in may be pushed back a little due to precipitation, but we will fly later that day or the next day.


Lodging, Meals, and Accommodations

Accommodations are designed to be rustic luxury—individual cabins with a queen and twin bed, complete with duvets and extra bedding. These are heated with a wood stove and have solar-powered lighting. The main/common areas are large yurts—our kitchen; lounge/dining; and shower yurts are fully complimented with our solar power system and on-demand pressure hot water system. Meal times are determined daily by reference to our guests, the weather, and season. Meals are generous and most of our word-of-mouth referenced guests are coming due to the quality, freshness, and variety of our meals. Tenderloin meats highlight the menu, along with the fresh produce. We do not fry anything but bacon or sausages!


Species You Fish for by Season

Nipigon coaster brook trout were stocked here in the 1930s. They have been a naturally reproducing stock since. Few trout under 2 lbs. are caught. Most are 2.5 to 4.5 lbs. with many 5-lb. fish present. The lake record is 11.75 lbs.


What Should Customers Bring?

We always recommend that you bring your own gear, as you are most familiar with your equipment. We do offer a rod, reel, and line rental program, as the lake often requires a specialized type V or VI sinking line for best success. Waders are recommended more for the spray from the boats while in transport, as well as wade fishing late July - early Oct. A detailed packing list is provided upon booking. A 30 lb. max limit is imposed for the float plane flight.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Where is the best airport to fly into?
A. Most guests prefer to fly into Calgary International Airport to enjoy fly fishing on the Bow River, then driving through Banff and Lake Louise to fly from near Jasper, Alberta. The Icefields Parkway Highway is a spectacular drive that takes you through the most stunning Rocky Mountain scenery Canada has to offer.

Q. Where do you fish?
A. We offer guided river fly-fishing trips on the Bow, Red Deer, and Ram Rivers as an add-on to your trip to Fortress. Please visit for details on those trips that can complete a fly-fishing vacation.

Q. Where is the closest airport?
A. The nearest airport is Edmonton International.


Overall: Show Rating Distribution 4.9 / 5 based on 49 reviews


48 of 49 reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.

  • 5/5

    June Trip to Fortress Lake - 11/18/2013
    By: from Edmonton, AB

    My wife and I had the opportunity to spend four days at Fortress Lake last June. Being able to catch and release trophy brook trout (from the Nipigon River strain) in the middle of the Rocky Mountains was truly unique. Comfortable accommodations, delightful meals and competent, friendly guiding made the experience unforgettable. The return flight over Table Mountain and Amelia's ricotta pancakes were added bonuses. A must destination for brookie fans or just about anybody looking for something out of the ordinary.

  • 5/5

    Fortress Lake 2013 - 11/13/2013
    By: from Red Deer, Albera

    My retired parents, my wife and I decided to make a hiking trip to Fortress lake in June of 2013. It was great, the folks at fortress do an exceptional job of taking care of you, your well feed, always comfortable, you have all the freedom you could want and the Brookies are huge, and for us at least, very willing. Nobody in our little group was a particularly grand fishermen but catching them was as easy as listening to a few tips from our (semi) guide. The considering that the hotel in Jasper national park at the trail head was charging approximately 2/3rds of what the folks at fortress charging for a night you get so much more value at fortress. Everything is has to be flown in or hiked in, you have a 10 km lake pretty well to yourself, they feed you very well and you get to experience fantastic fishing. Well worth the trip.

  • 5/5

    Fortress Lake Retreat - 11/3/2013

    A freind and I spent 3 days at Fortress Lake Retreat this Fall. The scenery was spectacular. The hospitality was second to none. The fishing was extraodinary. If you enjoy catching very large, beautiful Brook Trout, I highly recommend booking a trip at Fortress Lake Retreat.

  • 5/5

    Awesome time fishing up at Fortress Lake Retreat - 10/28/2013
    By: from Calgary, AB

    My brother and I spend three days fishing with Fortress Lake Retreat with Amelia, Kevin and Andrew. Spectacular fishery and exception service and great food. Highly recommended all around. If you like lots of big Brook Trout his is the place to visit!!! I can't wait to go back - very soon!

  • 5/5

    Awesome! - 10/25/2013
    By: from Fortress Lake Retreat

    Scenery, food, fishing and hospitality all first class. Fortress Lake is one of the best fishing experiences I have ever had. Beautiful.

  • 5/5

    The Best - 10/7/2013
    By: from Saskatchewan

    As a person who grew up in Thunder Bay and fished for Lake Superior & Lake Nipigon Brook Trout as a youngster, Fortress Lake is unequalled. Coasters should have been invented here!

  • 5/5

    Best guided trip I ever had - 10/7/2013
    By: from Ringoes NJ

    Fortress lake is a truly unique destination with incredible scenery and excellent fishing. The opportunity to sight fish for trophy brook trout was amazing. Accommodations were more than comfortable with great beds, warm blankets, and your own wood stove. Plus three delectable meals a day. The whole trip was only made better by the staff who are fantastic hosts and great guides.

  • 5/5

    What a treat! - 10/5/2013

    I had the good fortune of staying with the folks at the Fortress Lake retreat this past summer and I think they could drop the re from retreat because it certainly was a treat to visit this beautiful part of the world! The incredibly friendly and knowledgable staff were always willing and able to help with your every request. Whether is was a casting lessons or serving up some great meals they did a super job making you feel special during your stay. It's truly one of the most scenic places you could ever hope to visit, and oh ya, the fishin aint bad either. I will definetly return one day.

  • 5/5

    Unigue fly fishing experience - 10/4/2013
    By: from Calgary AB

    The trip offers many opportunities for different fishing styles. After a day of blind casting at the stream mouth, we spent a couple of great days cruising the shoreline sight fishing to monstrous brookies. Whether they were holding in deadfall or rock structure, these fish than more often than not very willing to put a bend in your rod. Great food, great facility. Awesome scenery.

  • 5/5

    Great Outdoor Fishing Adventure - 10/3/2013
    By: from Reno, NV

    We hiked in and out on the trail. Amelia and Drew met us to guide us across the Chaba river. Scenery at the camp on lake was stunning. Camp was very luxurious with comfy beds, clean cabins and fantastic service with great meals each day. Great hot shower and bathrooms were welcome. And of course the fishing was tremendously fun with plenty of nice sized trout. Guiding service with Drew was terrific and both Amelia and Drew are experts at the fishing at Fortress Lake. It was a relaxing stress free family vacation in the beautiful wilderness that we will always treasure. We were so pleased we were able to schedule the Fortress Lake stay during our trip to nearby Jasper and Banff parks.

Fortress Lake Retreat
Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Expedition
Amelia & Dave Jensen
Lat 52°21'51.76"N
Long 117°46'24.90"W

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