The First “Real” Interior Lake Season

I’ve never been a fan of fishing lakes, or even fishing on the ocean for that matter. Something about rivers just does it for me. The constantly changing, ever dynamic conditions and variety of spunky fish, along with constantly changing sceneries are most likely the biggest draws for me. I just love moving water and the challenges it brings.

As many know, the interior region of British Columbia is renowned for producing trophy rainbows of various strains in hundreds of different lakes. In an attempt to make myself a more rounded angler, I decided to commit myself to fish lakes on every day I had off this season. I have always done the odd lake trip every year, but they were largely inconsistent, and I never gave myself a chance to really learn the ins and outs and consistently have good days.

I spent most of my fall and winter out on Vancouver Island this past year, and then started a renewed work contract on the mainland in the spring. This contract had me heading up to the interior of British Columbia to collect brood-stock from a truly amazing lake. I do this every year (or at least for the past 3 years of working for this company), and in the down time when we aren’t working – we’re fishing. These stints have been my only real lake fishing to date, and this year I decided that I would actually make an effort to hit lakes on my days off to try out something new, and maybe, even get “good” at it.

The first few trips, as always, were at the brood lake. Fishing on my first stint up there in all honesty wasn’t very good. We hit the odd patches of fish, and had some spectacular days on small fish – but not many big fish were had. The weather was also pretty unstable the whole time I was up there; the positive of that were some pretty spectacular last light sunsets (including this one where everything worked out perfectly – right down to hooking a big arse fish that put a nice bend in the rod).

bent rod sunset
An awesome sunset, hooked up on a good fish!
pretty bow
A beautifully coloured medium sized rainbow

Once back home after the 10 day stint, I had 4 days off. I held true to the promise I made to myself, and went lake fishing instead of hunting for steelhead. It was still early for the lakes (only being the end of April), but we had lots of warm weather early on this year, and ice came off much earlier than expected. The first lake we checked was turning over (a process in which the surface water flips to the bottom, creating a “muddy” and turbid lake), so Kitty and I quickly back peddled to a different lake in the area. This lake is typically good for smaller rainbows, and I normally visit it once a year just for the shear numbers of fish.

The typical sized rainbow for this small lake

Today was not much different – in the fact that we hit a tonne of smaller rainbows. What was different, however, were the number of larger rainbows we were getting in the 18-22 inch range. They put up some great fights, and it was easily the most entertaining and rewarding experience I have had on this lake. I still haven’t caught one of the larger 5-10 pound trout fabled to be here, but it was nice to finally see a good number of fish over 14″ (the standard size). In total, we landed something like 40 fish with almost half of those being in the larger size class. This was a great start to our lake season!

A beautiful, fairly large fish for this lake!
Kitty with another nice fish from the day

The next day I had off was my first real “lake adventure.” It was to a lake I had stocked the day before actually. While stocking the lake, I watched a guy pull out 5 rainbows one after another indicator fishing chironomids. I made the gamble to drive up the nearly 3 hours to the lake the very next day (my next day off). I didn’t arrive to the lake until noon (I had errands to run in the morning), but while pumping my tube up, I saw a bunch of guys already out on the lake with rods going off. I quickly readied my gear and kicked out to a nice shoal. Within 10 minutes I was keyed into the fish well and was having constant double headers.

A big and a small.. unfortunately an over exposed picture

Throughout my first 4 hours there the fishing was lights out. There seemed to be two distinct age classes of fish. About half were in the size range of the smaller one of the double header above, and the other half were the size of the top one or larger. I ended up with nearly 50 fish again that day in a short time period – and then as fast as it had come on, it completely died. My last hour I only managed a couple of fish before deciding to leave.

A beautiful, well conditioned fish from the larger age class
Being called a rainbow trout is well suited to these awesome fish

After my first good lake day, I was heading back out for another 6 day stint at the egg station again. The first 2 days, fishing was absolutely insane. The only downfall to the insane action was that most of the fish were in the 16 inch range, with only the odd big one mixed in. We were still good for at least 1 of these a day though (plus a few others that were broken off or straightened hooks):

big bow lift
A beautifully conditioned interior rainbow trout

The last four days I was there the weather was brutal. We still made it out for the odd half hour stretch after work, but the constant thunderstorms always cut fishing very short. Most of the time after work was now spent at the cabin tying flies. It seemed right when we would get out, we’d get some hot action bites, and land a few fish, and then the weather would roll in and the fishing would turn off. This trip capped off my egg stations stints.

closeup 3 pounder
A scrappy little chromer
colourful buck
A buck nicely mended after a spawn with some beautiful colours

After that work trip I again had 4 days off in a row. I decided to camp and fish a few different lakes (all new). The fishing wasn’t great, and I had to work hard for the fish that I did find. Not many were worth taking a picture of. I had expected nicer fish, but the high elevation lakes had a bunch of skinny and darker coloured specimens. The odd beauty was brought to the net though. I probably won’t return to any of those lakes in the near future.

A high elevation Pennask rainbow

The last few trips of the lake season that I was able to do before our wedding in July were incredibly memorable. This was due to a number of reasons. The first and foremost was because I was able to share them with Kitty (my now wife). The next two reasons were because they were on new lakes, and we caught a tonne of super high quality fish.

The first trip we gambled. We had one lake in mind to start, and then we changed our minds on the way up and switched to a different lake I had heard good things of. It was a major gamble due to the low elevation and the hot weather we had been having; something that quite often causes summer doldrums, which in turn, leads to poor fishing. We arrived at the lake and no one was there, which I perceived to be a bad sign. We started kicking around and I eventually saw some chironomid shucks and a couple hatching bugs. I anchored and attached a weight to my hook to find bottom. It was near 20 feet deep – a perfect depth and one of my favourites. I cast out and turned to look at Kitty, looked back and already had a fish on – it turned out to be a 3 pound chunky fish. I called Kitty over, and it immediately turned into a slaughter show. We hooked and landed fish after fish – including many double headers. To top it off, the average fish was 3 pounds or better. We couldn’t have asked for a better day together.

big pennask
A beautiful heavy shouldered buck
chubby pennask
Kitty with a beauty
closeup bow
A cool angled close up
Kitty beauty
Kitty with another gorgeous still water rainbow
sexy triple
One of the many doubles

I didn’t think the season could end on a better note, but the next trip was again incredible. The same thing happened. We kicked around until we found bugs. I anchored up at first and didn’t have luck. I made the decision to move and find more bugs. I found them, anchored and was into a fish right away while setting up my second rod. The action was fast and furious for a few hours before dying (again – a bunch of double and even triple headers!). The fish were again a great size, and we caught more than enough to keep us occupied. It was indeed a great end to our already fairly successful lake season.

fatty fv
My first fish of the day was a super fat, well conditioned bow
Kitty lift
Kitty’s first bow of the day
just another double
One of the good sized doubles Kitty hit
kitty fists full
Two in the hand, and one more pulling the rod she had just set down over the side of the boat! A crazy 20 minutes of fishing saw a dozen fish in this size range.

Overall, this season was much better than I expected. I had never given lakes a serious thought before. I set out with no depth sounder, very few flies, and little knowledge. By the end of the season I was able to tie a bunch of flies that matched the lakes I was fishing well, I was more able to read water, and could effectively find hatches and catch fish that were feeding on them. Next year I need to get a depth sounder to more effectively find the edges of shoals and find that magical 19-22 foot depth that I seem to do so well in.

Check out some of my other recaps!:



One thought on “The First “Real” Interior Lake Season

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