Angling the Castle River

Fishing with the Bears

The Castle River originates where the Continental Divide forms the northern boundary of Waterton Lakes National Park. Though they are outside the park, the river's upper reaches remain largely unperturbed by human activity.

This means good native trout populations nurtured by an intact ecosystem. On the other hand, the upper Castle's wildness also means that bears, both black and grizzly, frequent the riparian trails. Abundant caution and canisters of pepper spray are essential components of the backcountry angler's survival kit.

The prudent vacationing angler may choose instead to remain within range of roads and cell phone service. Even within this constraint, there is easy access to excellent angling from Secondary Highway 774, north of the Castle Mountain ski area. Look for the deeply rutted, unmarked side roads that lead eastward to the river's edge. These unmaintained roads lead to casual campsites and parking areas. Criss-crossing the stream at its shallow points will lead the wading angler to deep runs and pools sheltering big trout.

Below the confluence of the West and South branches at Castle River Bridge, the main branch can be angled on foot. From Castle Falls downstream, the river appeals to white-water paddlers and is not practical for drift boats or inflatable fishing craft. Castle River country also attracts off-road motoring enthusiasts in noisy numbers. This, as much as a fear of bears, discourages many anglers.

A quieter reach is upstream of Canyon Bridge where the river winds through wide-open countryside. Downstream from the bridge it disappears into a deep and dangerous canyon and is not recommended for boats nor boots.