Trophy BC Fly Fishing Lakes
If your dream is of catching Big Fish on a Small hook, fly fishing in these BC Lakes can make that dream come true. Make any one of these British Columbia fishing lakes your next Fly Fishing Vacation Destination!
BC fishing lakes are world renowned for producing trophy trout all over the province on the fly. Jump in your small boat, pontoon boat or float tube and turn your attention to the huge rainbow to be caught when fly fishing in BC.
There are many lakes across the province that afford one the luxury of catching big fish on small hooks. British Columbia has on of the very best stocking programs in the world and hold a particular passion for it Rainbow trout.
Stocking you say? Well yes. Rainbow trout are resident to British Columbia however, due to its terrain, adequate spawning habitat is deficient. The lakes, particularly in the south and central interior have all the right ingredients in terms of food source, water temperature, PH and accessibility to produce a quality fishery. For years the combined efforts of many government agencies, private organizations and generous individuals have contributed to the building and perpetuation of our favorite pastime.
In most recent years British Columbia has been a front-runner in the production of genetically corrected trout called triploids.
Using a heat and pressure process after fertilization, the eggs are treated to produce an extra chromosome that renders the fish sterile. In turn, when the fish don't need to expend energy on reproduction, they just grow big, real big.
For more information on the process of Triploid Technology, see this article on Non-Productive Technologies authored by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC.
Most BC fishing lakes that are stocked have been supplied with regular diploid fish. Some lakes in BC have produced massive rainbows available on the fly for decades, genetic manipulation or not. Below is a list of great fishing opportunities for the fly fishing enthusiast to try their luck and skill. Keep in mind, the fish are there but they are not necessarily easy to catch. These fish don't get large without the wariness it takes to feed abundantly while avoiding the predators, including you and me.
Before visiting any of these lakes, take note as to what level of accommodation opportunities are available. Only a few offer more than a semi-developed forestry campsite and some have no overnight camping or accommodation at all. You may also want to study the BC Fishing Regulations for local laws on each lake. Most of these lakes have some sort of special regulation regarding one or more of the following:
- catch and release
- special quotas
- gear restrictions
- boating restrictions
- other special restrictions and notes
This information is available from the merchant where you purchase your license and on the Web at:
BC Freshwater Fishing - Regulations and Synopsis
In terms of Big Fish - we want you to know that many fly fishing lakes in BC produce rainbow trout over 5 lbs. Fewer produce fish over 7lbs and even less will produce fish 10 lbs +. We will only talk about lakes that give up fish in the 7 lb+ range. Make no mistake, a large 7lb+ rainbow will develop more power than most any other freshwater fish. Tempt one to your small hook (size 10 or smaller) and you will have a substantial war on your hands.
Fly Fishing - Internet Radio
Join us on our next LIVE Broadcast! We've brought together The Experts on fly fishing to tell you in their own words the secrets to their success in both Freshwater and Saltwater. Covering fish from Trout to Tarpon, from tying flies to casting them you'll find it all right here on Ask About Fly Fishing - Internet Radio.
Now, you can tell us about your fly fishing vacation at any BC Fishing Lakes at 2 different venues:
BC Freshwater Fishing Journal
- read about others success and/or share your own recent fishing experience with us
My Favorite Fishing Lake in BC
- tell us about your favorite fishing lake/river/pond or stream in BC
Home of the famous Kamloops Trout
The Kamloops Region is world renowned for quality trout fishing lakes. The are literally hundreds to choose from within a 2 hour radius of the city of Kamloops. Keeping that in mind, there are only a handful of smaller lakes that produce true trophy sized
fish. We're going to tell you about a few that are reasonably accessible and easy to find.
Close to Kamloops - Closer to my Heart
Pass Lake has long been a quality fishery. It was when I moved to the region in 1982 and remains so. Some things have changed but the lake keeps producing trophy rainbow trout, especially since the introduction of triploids. Pass has always had large fish. The lack of natural spawning habitat and prolific food source made it a perfect candidate for introducing the fast growing, hard fighting and extremely tasty triploid rainbow. These clean, silver bullets have been reputed to grow to over 20 lbs in this lake.
Easily accessed by a 2wd vehicle (it used to be a tough 4x4 road), Pass Lake is about 25 kms north of Kamloops on the Lac du Bois Road. The road starts in the north side of town at the entrance to Bachelor Heights and winds through some terrific desert-mountain terrain. Stay left at the McQueen Lake fork and go another couple of kilometers until you see the access sign on the right.
There is a well-maintained BC Forestry Campground (15 vehicle units) and boat launch. See your BC Regulations regarding special restrictions governing catch limits, size limits, seasonal opening and closures and gear restrictions.
The lake is surrounded in shoals. My favorite areas are to the left or to the right of the boat launch or straight across the lake to the north - east shore. Many fisherman spend quality time at the west and north-west end near the Agricultural Research station. The lake is small enough to fish effectively with a belly boat or pontoon boat but deep and large enough to use a small boat and motor. There are no motor restrictions on the lake as of 2005 however I can see that this issue will come up for consideration some time in the future. This is a quality fishery and our hope is that every fisherman will treat it with the respect it deserves.
Leech, chironimid and bloodworm patterns are effective all year round with particularly better success in May -early June and late Sept to mid- Oct. June produces an absolutely phenomenal mayfly hatch as well as a hearty traveling sedge hatch for the dry-fly enthusiast.
Important Note: Pass Lake winter killed in 2008/09 and the stocked fish had to be replaced. In the fall of 2009 I took the chance to fish Pass and actually had a pretty good day by Pass standards. There are still a few large fish in the lake and last years stock will be substantially bigger in the 2010 season.
Click here for the story on the 2009 Fishing Journal.
Other Local Lakes and Activities:
McQueen Lake - Education Center
Isobel Lake - brook trout, Interpretive Forest Centre
Lac du Bois Provincial Park
This lake is now a private fishery and can only be accessed through the Corbett Lake Lodge where you will pay a per rod fee for your day on the water.
That said, it's probably worth it.
The lodge raises it's own triploids at another location and sets them free into Corbett once they have reached significant size. The opportunity to catch 5 to 10lb rainbow all day long has many fishermen lining up with their gear and their wallets for this terrific opportunity. (Update: in 2009 the largest fish stocked in the lake this year exceeded 16 lbs!)
Corbett Lake lies about 20 kms south of Merritt on Hwy 5. It's beside the highway. I haven't fished this lake since it has been privatized but my experience with the lake was very good. Large leeches seem to be a good producer as well as nymphs, chironimids, bloodworms and shrimp. I found fishing around the aerator in the fall (just after they turn it on) can be delerium, particularly with little glassworms as this fish congregate near the stirred up water for a smorgasborg of disturbed water insects.
Island (BigOk) Lake
If Island Lake was a little closer to Kamloops, it would rival Pass Lake as my favorite fly-fishing lake.
Tucked in behind the Highland Valley Mine west of Logan Lake, Island offers some of the finest fly fishing for trophy rainbows. It's clear waters, shoals and submerged island creates an abundance of prime casting locations. Summer evenings bring the big bruisers up from the depths as they cruise the shallows of the submerged island for active caddis pupae and rise savagely for the emerging adult travelers. Leeches drift across the white marl and bullrush in constant danger of being consumed by a savagely feeding Silver Bullet.
Island is a moody lake and has limited camping facilities. The last part of the trail into the lake is rather rough and good vehicle clearance is recommended. The access road in from Hwy 97c (Logan Lake - Ashcroft) varies in its location as it is subject to mine activity and can be altered at any time. Consult the mine or the local fly shop in Logan Lake for access directions if you are unsure.
Big Ok Lake is a catch and release, single barbless hook and artificial fly only lake with a limited season. Please consult the current BC Fishing Regulations for details.
Other nearby lakes: Little OK Lake, Calling Lake, Trojan Pond (private- controlled by the mine; limited seasonal access for a fee/contribution)
Situated at the east entrance to the Town of Logan Lake, the lake has contained triploids for longer than most lakes. The amount of feed is incredible so the fish are well fed. They look like footballs. When you go to the local fly shop in the mall (and one should always visit the local shop for up-to-date reports and invaluable information) take a look at the pictures they have there. It's impressive. If you can hook into one, it's likely to be a big one. There is a popular campsite at the east end of the lake and the challenging local 9 hole golf course just east of the campsite. Logan Lake is also a Ducks Unlimited project so you are likely to see a variety of waterfowl gracing the water.
Large leeches seem to be the most consistent fly pattern. I haven't spent a lot of time on this lake but I have also had good success with a large muddler minnow around the aerator in the fall. My friend Steve has had success cruising the middle of the lake with a bloodworm, deep. This lake is great for fishing in a float tube or pontoon boat.
Logan lake has restrictions. As of 2005 there is a single barbless hook only, 1 fish daily quota. The lake is also 'electric motor only'. It is available for fishing year round however making a responsible decisions regarding ice-fishing is recommended as the lake has an aerator program that can create dangerously thin ice.
Please consult the current BC Fishing Regulations before fishing any lake in BC.
This reasonably high elevation lake (1402m/4600ft) has been a favorite for trophy fish for almost 50 years. The rainbows here average between 2-4 lbs but there are plenty of larger fish up to 10 lbs or better. The season is from May until late October and is also a prime area for hunting, especially moose, deer and bear.
Chironimid (both floating line and sinking line), leech and dragonfly patterns do well here. Although I have yet to fish there during late June or July, I hear that the sedge hatch and responding rising of large fish is orgasmic!
My personal best result at Hatheume was in mid-Sept drifting with sinking lines and green chironimids. My wrists hurt after that one. I lost the strongest rainbow that I have ever hooked into (and never saw it either).
Located on the Thompson Plateau, Hatheume is accessed via the Okanagan Connector (Hwy 97C - Sunset turnoff) between Merritt and Peachland. Whether you are coming from the Okanagan, Kamloops/Merritt or the Lower Mainland (Vancouver area) it's all highway other than the last 26km which is a well used and maintained forestry road. A car will get you there but a higher clearance vehicle like a pickup or SUV is better.
For accommodation there are 2 choices.
1) Hatheume Lake Resort - Located on the NE corner of the lake this beautiful, well maintained resort includes cabin and boat rentals, souvenier and convenience store. Mark and Tania Lee, the lodge managers, welcome you throughout the year for a variety of summer and winter outdoor activities.
2) Hatheume and Pinnacle Lake Forestry Campsites - two beautifully kept public campsites. The Hatheume campsite is located on the SW corner of the lake and Pinnacle is located about a kilometer south of Hatheume on the road into Hatheume, you can't miss it.
Hatheume is a trophy lake and has gear, limit, and seasonal restrictions in place. Consult your BC Fishing Regulations Guide for more information.
Okanagan Region - Holiday Haven
The Okanagan is well known for its beautiful lakes, orchards, vineyards and beaches. You can add great fly fishing to the list. Here are a few of my favorite trophy lakes.
Burnell (Sawmill) Lake
I have only taken the opportunity to fish Burnell once and it wasn't a particularly co-operative day for my buddy Wayne and I. It was in the spring (April)and it was very breezy. There were a lot of boats on the lake fishing the west end and around the middle east end where there is an underwater island.
Burnell Lake is north-west of accessed via the Fairview Road at the south-end downtown Oliver. Travel west for about 1.5km (1mile) and turn right onto the White Lake Road. Go north for about 5km and turn left just after passing under the powerlines. Burnell is about 2km from this point.
We had chosen an alternative access and approached the lake from the north east side.
Although we didn't have much luck others did. We watched and talked to a father/son couple from Washington state and they managed to hit a few big fish earlier in the day on chironimids. Later in the afternoon, they were fishing an interesting white-light blue chironimid pattern - about a #14, that I had never seen before. I never got to get a real good look at the pattern but the 28" rainbow that the dad landed had me shaking my head.
This lake is a reservoir and is subject to drawdown. It is also at a fairly low elevation so it warms up quite quickly in the hot Okanagan sun. That makes the spring the best time try your luck. There is a user-maintained forestry campground that can accommodate trucks and campers on the south side of the lake.
There are shoals surrounding the lake and an underwater island at the center-east end. That's where that guy caught the 28"er.
Burnell Lake is a designated quality fishery with catch and release in effect. Check the regulations for all special restrictions and notes.
Other nearby lakes: Ripley and Madden Lakes.
I was introduced to Kidd Lake in 1991, long before fish were introduced into it. As an Engineering Technologist with Ducks Unlimited, we were interested in the development of this area as a wetland for migratory birds. The project was just a
vision at that point. In the late 90's (long after my career moved on) and with the co-operation and consultation of many partners, a small dam was constructed at the south end of the wetland. There appeared to be sufficient depth in various areas that, with the assistance of aerators, Kidd could also be developed into a fishing lake. History has been made and Kidd Lake produces some of the largest rainbows in the province, including some in the 20lb range. This is just a small lake so the logistics of this phenomenon are incredible.
I managed to fish Kidd Lake twice in 2005. I imagine that I will see it more often in the coming years. On both visits I was into fish. My first visit I was into 3 nice fish, including one in the 10lb range which I lost within 15ft of my belly boat. I was setting up to net him with my inadequate net when it tore a strip of line off so fast that it snapped my 6lb tippet.
On the second trip the weather was nasty and I went a few hours without any strikes. I lost 2 nice fish as I was drifting in at dusk but broke both of them off. I checked my tippet material and found that the 5lb tippet that I had recently purchased had deteriorated and was the equivalent of about 2lbs. I was not pleased and returned it for an exchange to the store where I bought it. A lessoned learned:
"always hand test your tippit material before you purchase it"
Kidd Lake is located along Hwy 5, just 2km south of the Aspen Grove turnoff or approx. 20 kms south of Merritt. It's beside the highway with a rest/parking area. The access to the lake is very steep and can be difficult if you are trying to put in
a boat mounted on a trailer. There is no camping, overnight parking or other facilities at the lake other than an outhouse for your convenience.
The lake has a huge shallow areas (relative to it's overall size) that range from light vegetation like bullrush and mucky bottom to extremely weedy. Both are productive but only when the fish are feeding heavily on shallow water invertebrates or at dawn/dusk. Most of the time the fish are available at the dropoffs in 6' -12' of water. I haven't caught any fish in the deepest parts of the lake but I can imagine there are a few monsters to be found there.
The biggest fish seem to be caught in the north end of the lake, north of the aerators. The south-east end is called ' the
nursery' where you are less likely to hit anything over 10lbs (oh gee whiz!). It does however provide much more cover from the
wind resulting in a more comfortable outing if the wind is blowing from the south.
I've had my best luck on chironimids, #12 or smaller, fished on a floating line with or without a strike indicator. It's funny how
some days the fish won't touch your line with the indicator on and some days that's all that they will take. There are a couple of local patterns that seem to work really well but if I showed you them I'd have to kill you (just kidding).
Kidd Lake, in the regulations appears as a "no motors" lake, including electric in the 2005-06 fishing regulations however, if you go to the lake and view the posting on the lake description sign, there is a message allowing the use of electric motors. It appears confusing but I was able to talk to a BC fisheries biologist that assured me that this was the ruling and electric motors were fine. It just needs to be updated in the regulations. Kidd Lake is also a "fly fishing only" and "catch and release" lake that has a defined fishing season. Make sure to check your regs before hitting the water.
Vinson Lake - This 50 acre lake produces large rainbow to 10lbs. I have not fished this lake (it's on my 2011 schedule) but have gotten good reviews from a number of fisherman. Fishing can be slow but the rewards are considerable.
The lake is accessed via Loon Lake Exit from the Coquihalla Connector (Hwy 97C), about 12 kms east of Aspen Grove. Take the Siwash Creek FSR south, pass Buck Lake by 2km and bear right. Vinson will be on your right within 2km. There is a cartop boat launch and Forestry Recreation Site for campers.
The Cariboo - Plenty of Wilderness
Sheridan lake: King of the Cariboo
Back in the 1980's and 1990's I had the one of the best jobs in the world. I was able to travel, on company time and expense to many of the prime fishing areas of the Thompson, Okanagan and Cariboo. Sheridan Lake, because of its close proximity to many of the projects that I was involved with, provided me with the opportunity to see big game freshwater fishing at it's finest.
Sheridan Lake is a fairly large lake by my standards (the belly boating fool that I am), coming in at over 4000 acres and almost half of it being productive shoal area. Luckily enough there are a number of public accesses on the lake to get you close enough to good fishing when using a pontoon boat or float tube. Personally, I do recommend a boat and motor to troll or navigate around the miles of shoal.
If you prefer there are 3 resorts on the lake all vying for bragging rights when it comes to customers catching big fish. They provide most ammenities to make your visit comfortable and rewarding.
Sheridan has consistently produced 7lb+ rainbow and 3lb+ brookies for as long as I've know (25 years). Apparently the brook trout are not being stocked any more but triploid rainbow have been recently introduced, which may create a whole new level of large fish available to catch.
When to Fish:
Fish can be caught from May to October on this great lake however 2 time frames particularly come to mind.
- Immediately after ice-off seems to produce well as the fish seek warmer waters in the bays and gorge primarily on leech and shrimp.
- Late June to late July when the fish delight on a smorgasborg of natural water insect activity.
Where to Fish:
This lake is a pretty good size and as mentioned above, almost half of it qualifies as shoal area. That means for you, the fisherman, there is plenty of fly fishable territory. When I troll a fly I tend to stick with leech patterns and the locally know "Horsehair". The lake does accommodate a lot of trollers who use hardware but they usally stay a little further out from the shoals. For the most part both types of fisherman seem to respect the others territory. I can't say that I know the whole lake but below are a couple of my favorite spots.
My favorite access:
Thomas Point on the north side of the lake and directly accessed along Thomas Pt Road from Hwy 24. From here the lake is at your beckoning call. Like most fisherman, our first response is to find the spots furthest from the launch point. I don't know why we do this but it's a known phenomenon. NOT SO HERE. Large fish cruise the shoals immediately in front of this access and for the most part, this is where I have caught most of my fish. The first time I fished this lake (first week of July), I was able to hook into 3 - 5lb+ rainbows in less than an hour, casting dark green half-back nymphs on floating line. I watched another fisherman land 2 larger fish in the same area, take them back to camp and come back for two more.
Forest Lake is one of those fisheries that continues to astound. A healthy supply of 4 to 8lb rainbow with many hitting the double digit level are available at this fly only lake. These giants respond to leech patterns, dragons and damsels. Waterboatman provide excitement in the fall and a healthy caddis hatch emerges in the late spring /early summer for the dry fly enthusiast.
Forest Lake is a managed fishery with restrictions regarding motor size, gear, quota and size. Catch and Release is
recommended however there is a one fish limit (over 50 cm). You may want to think twice about keeping a fish as their taste
tends to be "muddy". The lake elevation is just over 3000 ft, leaving it susceptible to slower fishing as the lake warms up during the summer.
This medium/small lake (240 acres) is easily accessed from the Lyne Creek Rd approximately 26 kms north of Williams Lake
on Hwy 97. Turn right onto Lyne Creek Road. Travel about 5.6 km (3.5 mi), keep left and stay on the main road for an additional 2.6 km (1.6 mi). Turn right onto Forest Lake Road and continue on this road for 3.1 km (1.9 mi). Finally, turn left onto a smaller road and drive to the lakeshore. Total distance from Williams Lake is about 37 km (23 mi). Recommend at least a 2 wheel drive
truck or a vehicle with better clearance than the family car. The lake has a small Forestry Service Campsite and is RV accessible.
Other Lakes and Services: Blue Lake ( a little further up Hwy 97 near Soda Creek) which has good rainbows, kokanee and a resort. The communities of McLeese Lake (north) and of course, Williams Lake, can provide needed supplies and services.
This small productive lake is ranked amongst the best fly fishing lakes available. The dark, tea-coloured water produces good sized rainbow to over 6lbs. Because of it's access, Elk lake is considered a premier float tube or pontoon boat piece of water. The lake has special gear, closure and motor restriction. Check your BC fishing regulations before putting your line in the water. This is a relatively shallow lake and is best fished with a floating or slow sinking line above the weed beds that near cover the lake bottom. There is a deeper (to 60') area at the north end that you can let out the sinkers.
Elk Lake is accessed from Hwy 97 at McLeese Lake. If you are going north, turn right at the Beaver Lake Road (about 45 km north of Williams Lake) and travel east for approximately 22kms. Watch for the rough access road to your left. There is a small
RV accessible BC Forestry Rec Site.
Other nearby lakes - Jackson Lake (fly fishing only - BC Forestry Rec Site).
Area map for Central Cariboo including Elk and Forest Lake.