Sea to Sky Highway
When travelling the Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler, you almost always see someone fishing in Browning Lake, the most prominent feature in Murrin Provincial Park. Browning Lake is well stocked with rainbow trout each spring, but tends to get fished out in a hurry. Still, that doesn’t stop anglers from trying, particularly small fry. This is a safe environment to test out flotation equipment such as inflatable rafts, float tubes, and belly boats.
Freshwater lake fishing from the dock at Alice Lake may not be everyone’s speed but there is a chance you’ll hook a trout in these stocked waters, especially in May and June. There’s also a boat launch at the north end of the lake (no motors) if you’d like to improve your chances by paddling to some of the less-accessible parts of the lake.
Click for a Map of the Vancouver to Whistler Area.
Freshwater river fishing is possible almost year round on the Cheakamus River. Fishing is strictly catch-and-release on all the rivers and creeks in the Squamish region. Unlike the nearby Squamish River, into which it flows, water in the Cheakamus River is clear year round. Anglers cast from the banks of the Cheakamus for coho salmon in October and November, for steelhead from late February to April, and for dolly varden char year round. Best access to the banks is from the north end of Paradise Valley Road. Head west of Hwy 99 on Squamish Valley Road to reach Paradise Valley Road.
Pemberton and Lillooet Area
The clear Birkenhead River melds with the murky green waters of the Lillooet River just as the two empty into the north end of Lillooet Lake near Pemberton. Beginning in August, successive runs of sockeye salmon enter the Birkenhead from the lake, having made their way this far from the Pacific Ocean via the Fraser River and Harrison Lake. When they do, the river runs red with the stock returning to spawn. This is a stunning sight, an autumn treat that rivals the changing colours in the forest along the riverbank. Although the salmon aren’t feeding, you can sometimes fish for the rainbow trout that follow in their wake.
The best place to launch is beside the more northerly of the two Birkenhead River bridges on Hwy 99, at the head of Lillooet Lake. You’ll often see anglers casting from the banks of the Birkenhead beside the D’Arcy-Anderson Lake Road. Birkenhead Lake is a popular fishing spot, even in winter, particularly at the mouth of Sockeye Creek. Try gang trolling using a wedding band or flatfish. Tenquille Lake lies west of Birkenhead, but at much higher elevation. Pack a fly-fishing rod and a ‘Royal Coachman’ for the best chance of hooking a rainbow trout.
Both Lower Joffre Lake and Middle Joffre Lake have been stocked with rainbow trout. Owing to the frigid conditions in these two lakes, the size of most fish is smaller than you’ll wish to keep. However, given the setting, a paddle on Lower Joffre offers as many rewards as does landing a trout.
Rainbow trout dominate the 40-odd lakes, rivers, and streams around Lillooet just as salmon and sturgeon rule the Fraser. There are even a few locations – such as Mowson Pond and Pearson Pond west of Lillooet on Hwy 40 near Gun Lake, and Lake Lamare on the Yalakom River Road north of Hwy 40 at Moha – where you can cast for brook trout. Anderson Lake, Seton Lake, Duffey Lake, Carpenter Lake, and Gun Lake are all big, with strategically placed boat ramps located along Hwy 40 west of Lillooet.
There is also a dock at the BC Hydro recreation site on Seton Lake beside Hwy 99, just west of Lillooet, where you can cast for rainbow trout, steelhead, and dolly varden up to 15 pounds (6.75 kg). Come fall, there’s a chinook and coho run. Use at least a large 5-ounce spoon – Kitimats or Crocodiles work well – when casting into the lake and let your line drift by the dock. Be sure to retrieve your lure before it gets lost in the Seton River’s swift current at the outlet of the lake.
Nearby, Texas Creek south of Lillooet on the West Fraser Canyon Road is loaded with rainbow trout, ‘old-time fishing at its best’ as the locals say. Also, as you drive Hwy 99 between Duffey and Seton Lakes, try your luck for rainbows at the forest recreation sites at Downton Creek or Melvin Creek, where they enter Cayoosh Creek. Fly-fish with a small spoon, such as the dependable ‘Deadly Dick,’ favoured by area anglers.