Date: June 2003
I have read about these wonderful shallow fertile trout lakes for most of my life. There are 220 lakes to fish within one hour’s drive of the little town of Kamloops , BC. According to my sources, May and June are prime months for fly fishing these shallow weedy lakes.
We had the pleasure of meeting the area’s biologist, Brian Chan, who is a fine gentleman, a world class fly fisherman and an outdoor writer. Brian has worked on this part of BC for 29 years, having a great positive effect on quality of fly fishing in his area. He manages 1,500 lakes in his territory and has yet to visit them all. He has written some great books on this area.
Some lakes are very small ponds that you can walk into for a short distance packing a float tube. Others are medium size where you can launch smaller prams. Some larger lakes are better suited to a boat with outboard power. Some lakes are no motors, other have a 10 horse power limit and some are OK for bigger boats with bigger outboards.
Most serious fly fishers use a fish finder/bottom sounder of some sorts. The portable Hummingbird ”Fishing Buddy” is the most popular one used on float tubes, pontoon boats and small car top boats.
Most pontoon boats have one anchor but small boats should have two, with one on either end, so you can anchor sideways with your back to the wind. This is important so you are not swinging around in the wind on one anchor.
Most fly anglers are using 9 foot or longer graphite fly rods in line sizes 5 and 6.
Large arbor reels are not a must but if you are planning on doing much trout fishing for larger fish you might consider one.
A good weight forward floating line and a few different full sinking lines are needed. For sinking lines you can have a true Intermediate, which is not clear, for just under the surface especially if it is windy. A slow sinking clear line is very useful for medium depths. Some might like to fish deeper in mid-summer with a type 3 or 4 uniform full sinking line.
My friend Chris Pasley believes that most of the hatches, but not all, on these lakes are from 10 am till 2 pm so we fished about 9 am till 3 pm to be sure to be out there during the peak activity. This means packing a lunch and drinks in a small ice chest. The other activity takes place in the evening with the traveling sedge (big caddis) emerging in late June depending on the elevation, lake and weather.
The “new deal” up there now is the chironomide fishing with May being the prime month for it. They are commonly in size 8 to 18 and come in many colors. Black, brown, red, green and chrome are fairly standard colors. The locals usually tie most of them on standard nymph hooks like the TMC 3761 but in smaller size they might use the short curved “caddis” hooks like the 2457 or 2487. You can use colored glass beads, colored copper beads or colored tungsten beads to get different sink rates depending on depth you are fishing.
Many are using indicators to suspend these flies but the classier anglers are merely using a very long leader made up of mostly tippet (3x & 4x) on a floating line. You anchor with your back to the wind with two anchors in water that is ~5 to 20 feet. You are casting down wind and waiting while your imitation gets near the bottom. You then give a series of short strips that lift the chironomide off the bottom and then wait while it sinks back down again. You have about the same length leader system as the depth of the water or slightly shorter. You check the surface to see any adult insects or empty shucks to give you a clue about what is hatching. If we have spotted an empty shuck, it can clue us to the size and in some case the color. After we caught our first fish Chris would pump it’s stomach to see actually what it was eating. At this point we can know the size and color of the chironomids hatching. It you are in the right place in the lake, at the right depth with the right size and color chironomide it can be very good fishing. This is called “being dialed in”.
Chris uses a fish locator/bottom sounder to check out the contour of the bottom and to also see if there are any fish in the area. He also actually stands in the boat and looks at the bottom with Polarized glasses in the day time to see if there are any fish present. I was shocked at how many fish we actually spotted while fishing for a week in BC. At times we actually sight cast to cruising fish in 4 feet of clear water on a light colored marl bottom. It was like bonefishing in deeper water. Other hatches besides chironomides and caddis can be callibaetis may flies and damsel flies. They do fish leeches, dragon fly nymphs and water boatman too. June is the big month for all these other hatches.
I had fished a lot of lakes in CA, OR and NV from about 1965 till 1985 so this was a real education for me getting to fish with Chris Pasley who is a real good fly fisherman and fly tier. He has spent the past 4 or 5 summers fishing these BC lakes and has really gotten good at figuring them out.
We all met up on Sunday at Roche Lake which is a larger lake as they go and that is also pretty popular. Even at that we had some wonderful fishing there. There are two camping areas on the lake with some private cabins and a nice lodge. There were 8 of us that camped and fished the first three days on Roche Lake . We had some great evening meals that were prepared graciously by Jim and Marty Holmes, members of the Granite Bay Fly Casters. It was ~$7US a night to camp per vehicle and the only amenities were pit toilets. We caught some nice fish on Roche with chironomids and stripping peacock nymphs on clear slow sinking lines.
Some of us split off from the group to fish some back country 4×4 lakes. Island Lake is a jewel in the mountains at about 5,000 feet. It was almost all serious fly fishers. We had some real nice fishing there with our best landed, an 8 pounder Chris had taken on an adult traveling sedge in the late evening.
I read about this fishing my entire life and was pleased to see it is now even better than I imagined. I will look forward to returning soon and will try to help anyone that is interested in going now that I have such great contacts for the area.
**Naturally some of this can get dated but it is very good information that I was able to gather while fishing the Kamloops area with world class fly fisher Chris Pasley.
Feel free to contact me with any questions or feedback.