Fishing Guides: Thompson Okanagan

North Thompson and Yellowhead Highway 5

Paul Lake, stocked with two species of rainbow trout, is easily accessed with a car-top boat. Farther north, Heffley Lake is a great location for rainbow trout. Ice fishing is also possible here. Heffley Lake is located east of the community of Heffley Creek and 19 miles (31 km) northeast of Kamloops, off Yellowhead Hwy 5 on the road to Sun Peaks Resort.

The Barriere Lakes (North, South, and East) are all located about 60 miles (96 km) north of Kamloops and 10 miles (16 km) west of Hwy 5 on Barriere Lake Road. Some of the best trout fishing in this region renowned for its fine fishing lakes can be found here.

You can fish at Rearguard Falls Provincial Park, approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Tete Jaune Cache on Hwy 16. The park is on the Upper Fraser River, and the falls are the final barrier to salmon migrating from the mouth of the Fraser River, some 744 miles (120 km) southeast at the Pacific Ocean. Salmon season begins in August and continues through September.

Fly-in fishing lodges are located on some of the 700 lakes in the area; flights depart and return to Kamloops Airport.

Nicola Valley and Coquihalla Highway 5

A lake a day as long as you stay is no idle boast for the Nicola Valley. Close to 50 percent of the province’s total freshwater sportfishing occurs in the Thompson-Nicola region. Relative to its size, this region is unsurpassed in British Columbia for its sports fishery. The Thompson and Nicola Rivers are historic salmon-spawning tributaries of the Fraser River, and the smaller tributary streams are where rainbow trout, dolly varden, and kokanee lay their eggs. It’s the lakes, however, that are the main attraction for anglers.

There are few fishing runs as legendary – or as threatened – as the steelhead run on the Thompson River and one of its main tributaries, the Nicola River. Steelhead are an oceangoing species of trout (or salmon, depending on whom you consult) famous for their size, speed, stamina, and tremendous strength. In order to surmount obstacles in the Fraser Canyon before entering the Thompson River near Lytton, steelhead must possess all of these characteristics.

Chapperon Lake, Douglas Lake, and Nicola Lake have long been noted for their ample fish stocks. Nicola Lake, renowned for its depth, is said to harbour 26 varieties of fish, some weighing up to 20 pounds (9 kg). Nicola Lake is the easiest to reach and is located about 4 miles (7 km) east of Merritt on Hwy 5A. Use the boat launch at Monck Provincial Park for access to the big lake. Douglas Lake and Chapperon Lake are located about 12 miles (20 km) and 18.5 miles (30 km), respectively, east of Hwy 5A on the Douglas Lake Road. Angling is the most popular form of sportfishing in the Nicola area lakes, but ice fishing, spear fishing, and set-lines methods are also used.

In fall, anglers head for two places in particular: Goldpan Provincial Park, located on the Thompson River, and Spences Bridge, located on Hwy 8, just west of Hwy 1, 23 miles (37 km) north of Lytton. Anglers can readily access both the Thompson and the Nicola Rivers from Spences Bridge.

Good river access for fishing makes the Coquihalla River Provincial Park a popular spot. However, there are spawning channels alongside the Coquihalla River in the vicinity of this park, so be sure to consult the current fishing regulations. There are no day-use facilities in the park due to past flooding events of the Coquihalla River. Located 15.5 miles (25 km) northeast of Hope on Hwy 5, the park is closed to private vehicles, but anglers can reach it by parking nearby and walking in. Southbound highway traffic will find it easy to reach the park (via the Carolin Mines exit). Northbound traffic should take Othello Road from Hope to the Dewdney Creek intersection, then a sharp right turn onto the park access road. Leave your vehicle here.

Coldwater River Provincial Park, just north of the summit on the Coquihalla Highway, offers great steelhead fishing. The Coldwater River is shallow and gravel bottomed, providing good steelhead spawning habitat. Nearby are the Coquihalla Lakes, where both the Coquihalla River and Coldwater River have their sources. The Coldwater River runs north alongside the highway. There is a small Forest Service campsite at Zum Peak beside the river. Follow Zum Peak Forest Road for 5 miles (8 km) west from the park to reach the Zum Peak campsite. Coldwater River Provincial Park is located 31 miles (50 km) south of Merritt on Coquihalla Highway 5, with north and south access ramps.

The waters of Lac Le Jeune in Lac Le Jeune Provincial Park are famous for producing fighting rainbow trout. Fly-fishing is also possible in the Stake-McConnell Lakes Provincial Recreation Area – McConnell Lake Provincial Park.