The forests north of Campbell River are home to hundreds of small and tiny lakes that contain fish-able populations of native cutthroat trout. Last week I joined forces with Charley Vaughan as we took an exploratory journey to a small lake in the above mentioned forest.
The small lake we were planning to fish was one of those somewhat unknown bodies of water that are teaming with fish. As we were unloading our boats in preparation to go fishing we were joined by four other fly fishers who it seems were also going to a little-known lake teeming with fish.
As we launched Charley’s float tube and my punt into the still waters of the lake I could see circles all over the lake indicating the trout were in an active feeding period. To get a perspective of the size of our small lake I took the picture of Charley casting along the far side of the lake – as you can tell it was not very far across the lake. The lake was not crowded with six active fly fishers, but I suggest that a seventh angler would have felt somewhat surrounded.
How does one describe a lake where you and all the other fishers are continuously playing fish? At one point when I looked around me I saw that myself and three other fishers in my field of view were all playing fish. They were small native cutthroat trout, taking a variety of fly patterns fished on dry or sinking lines.
The fish varied in size from five to 11 inches. They were scrappy and fun to take on light rods. I would recommend four-weight rods with dry or sink tip lines if you targeted these small lakes very often.
I have in my rod collection a lightweight graphite rod that was designed for fishing small lakes and small fish that is mounted with a Hardy Fly Weight Reel and for my next foray into small lakes north of Campbell River it will be in my boat. The lake we fished was in Region1-10. If you fish these small lakes, carefully check the regulations for special rules that may apply to the body of water you chose to fish.
As a general rule if the lake is named it will have special regulations that apply – if the lake is not listed in the regulations as special it is fairly safe to assume region-wide regulations apply to that body of water. It is good practice to pinch the barbs on your hooks for easy releases.
One of the best sources of information on roads and lakes is the most up-to-date copy of Vancouver Island BC Victoria & Gulf Islands Backroad Mapbook – Outdoor Recreation Guide, available at local sporting goods stores and tourist centres.
While fishing during the week it is important to know you are in all probability in active logging operations, therefore you must be on the lookout for logging trucks and other heavy industrial equipment on the road. During our trip we encountered three loaded logging trucks and had to back up for one. If I had been pulling a trailer it would have been a challenge.
There is a stillness in a forest that is enriching to your soul. The day we fished was quite windy in the exposed clear-cuts we travelled through, but our little jewel of clear still waters was largely sheltered from the southeast wind on this day.
The lake is the residence of a pair of nesting bald eagles. On two occasions I watched as one of them plucked a trout from the surface. They made no attempt to take fish from our lines as is the practice of their kin on local lakes. As a tribute to the people who use this area there was no garbage.
The day following the trip we enjoyed wilderness trout for a unique dinner treat.
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.