Gone Fishn – Fairfax Lake Provincial Recreation Area

Two 44 cm Eastern Brook Trout

Gone Fishn – Fairfax Lake Provincial Recreation Area

Gone Fishn  –  part 4

Alberta Parks related website –Fairfax Lake Provincial Recreation area

Have you read the 1st post of the GONE FISHN post series? — Gone Fisn Introduction post. It explains the why we are doing this adventure.

Part 4 —  Fairfax Lake Provincial Park.

We packed up the Pierre Grey’s Lakes Provincial Park campsite  (Gone Fishn  – Post 3) camp the day before we have to pay for another night. We did so as the weather forecast was for big rains. They never happened!

The trip from Hinton AB Canada to Fairfax Lake Provincial Park was shown to be one hour by Google maps along highway 40 south to where it joins hwy 734 (forestry trunk road). This portion of the highway (hwy) 734 is well maintained. The portion north of Hinton should have a do not use warning on it! All the gravel roads going south were of good condition and we could average 70 km but the trip took much longer than 1 hour as deer kept popping out of the bush and crossing the road. When we came to the Luscar mines there were elk, mountain goats, and deer on the green hillside ready for a photography moment.  Remember the leaves on the trees are still in bud up here (no leaves) this time of year. (early June).

We took a side trip and saw the hamlet of Cadomin.  Cadomin sits on the north watershed and is only minutes from what is referenced as the Cadomin/Cardinal river divide. All AB rivers (north of the divide drains to the north and all watershed Cardinal River side of the divide drain to the south. Our purpose was to see if Cadomin had fuel and or groceries. It had neither.

Fairfax Lake Provincial Park is $15 Cad per night. Provided are: outhouses cleaned only when reservations are coming, pump water is not potable (not drinkable) and includes firewood.

WARNING: The Park entry signage says sites marked with a reserve online marker are available online. We did not find a single site with this indication on its site post so we chose the site we wanted believing it was first come first serve.

It is a steep uphill climb from the lake to our site on tier 1 and even steeper for each of the other two site tiers.   It is a chore to carry up the easily removed items from the boat to the campsite.  For this reason, we chose a site on the first tier from which we could see our boat sitting on the shoreline.

The boat unloaded and its contents placed out of sight out of mind inside our storage tent. Now it is time to put the boat in the water and test the 20 hp Tohatsu 4-stroke gas motor as we had never run it since purchasing it with the boat and trailer. It ran perfectly but would not troll slower than 2 mph and that’s too fast. Our presentation works best at 1.04 to 1.14 mph.

Our first fishing outing was 10 AM to noon.  Water temp 50 C. No rises.  I trolled a small black leech fly with silver striping (woolly bugger) at about 11 AM and I had the first fish in the boat in less than 30 minutes.

We were equipped with one fly rod with a full sinking line and a green leech (woolly bugger).  Trolled at 1.1mph with our electric motor and it caught all of the fish. We now know to not go out until about 11 AM, use the electric motor and go out on the water only when it is calm enough for insects (mosquitoes) to rise to the surface and hatch as that is when the green woolly bugger and sinking fly line combination worked best for us.

Campsite visitors aside from people were: one nut-loving squirrel, 4 fish-loving and nut-loving grey jays and one not-so-welcome garbage bag ripping open raven.

We failed to find internet with a strong enough signal for Zoom use or making a phone call anywhere within 10 km. Going back north along highway 734 to where Lovett creek joins the Pembina river we found an Indigenous native’s summer T P house with several sweat houses.

Here we also came across a rare sight.  A Sandhill Crane! My husband had never seen one in the wild before.  These birds look large but are mostly feathers.

To our surprise, we caught two Eastern Brook Trout (“brookies” for short) on the 2nd day. The largest was 44 cm and had a hook jaw.  That one was a male. The other was a little smaller and was a female.

We were greeted by an impressive young man in a uniform with a friendly warm greeting on our 3rd outing.  There he was suddenly standing on the shore waiting for us. This was my first fish and game officer encounter. How do they hide so well as if they just suddenly pop out of the ground?  Are they part leprechaun? Just joking! He identified himself and asked how we did fishing. We told him we released all our caught except for two fish as my husband is allergic to fish.  Surprise!! The Game Warden was also allergic to fish!  We provided fishing licences and he posed for a photo with me.  He confirmed you can have a gas motor mounted on the boat in an electric-only lake but you can not use the motor. The motor does not have to be raised.

Just after our arrival and emptying the boat of its contents and setting up our campsite (6 hours) along came a representative of the campsite and said you gotta move in 2 days as all the sites in tier 1 were reserved online for the weekend.  That’s not possible! There is no by reservation signage on the site posts of tier one. Signage as was posted on the park’s entry notice board. As a matter of fact, not one of the site marker posts anywhere in the campground was marked for the online reservation. The site care representatives’ answer to my question: Where are the reserve online signs was: ”I quit replacing them as they were being stolen. He concluded with: “That’s business!”

If you go to Fairfax Lake .. Please complain to the Provincial Parks AB so there can be hope to fix the way this campground is being looked after. In addition to the online reservation signage issue, there is the toilets issue. The Park was only being tended to when there are reserved signage on the site posts.   We replied to an AB Parks survey and will post to the Fairfax Lake relate website if there is a way to make comments there.

It sucks to set up a campsite (4-6 hours) and then be told to take it apart in a couple of days as it was reserved online!

Our trolling a sinking fly line with black leeches as described in our Swan Lake post presented just as we were been doing at every lake caught us the two largest fish my husband had ever caught in this lake. They were Eastern Brook trout 44 and 45 cm long. Fish stockers arrived while were there and added 10K rainbow trout fingerlings to the lake. There are not supposed to be eastern brook trout in Fairfax. It was no challenge to catch and release a limit of the smaller trout on every outing!

Having to move our site meant the Fairfax Lake experience was over and once again it was time time to pack it up and move to the next lake.

Next lake is Dolberg Lake.

Related Videos

Gone Fishn—Blog Posts


  1. Introduction—the why we are Gone Fishn
  2. Swan Lake Recreation Area
  3. Pierre Grey’s Lakes Provincial Park
  4. Fairfax Lake Provincial Recreational Area
  5. Dolberg Lake

Coming Soon  – Route 2

  1. Young’s Point Provincial Park
  2. Swan Lake Take 2
  3. Pierre Grey’s Lakes Provincial Park Take 2
  4. Buck Lake Provincial Park
  5. Dolberg Lake Take 2