Boating is great in the Cariboo; there are literally thousands of lakes, ponds, and rivers in this region. With over 8,000 lakes and 17,000 km (11,000 miles) of rivers and streams the possibilities for boating, canoeing and kayaking are almost endless.
Among the best of them are Loon Lake, a long, narrow, well-stocked rainbow trout lake that also contains kokanee and steelhead; Big Bar Lake, which has rainbow trout, too; and Bonaparte Lake and Valley, the dominant lake and river system in the south Cariboo. There are two approaches to Bonaparte: either head west of Hwy 5 from Barriere or head east from Hwy 97 at 70 Mile House.
In the Interlakes District, Sheridan and Bridge Lakes are the largest of hundreds of lakes dotted along Highway 24 (the ‘Fishing Highway’), which runs about 60 miles (97 km) east to the North Thompson River and the town of Little Fort on Hwy 5. Sheridan Lake holds spectacular-sized rainbow trout in the 14- to 16-pound range. The best time to try your luck here is as soon as the ice is off the lakes in May. Mayfly hatch brings out the fly-fishers for rainbow trout as well as burbot.
Canim Lake, a large lake 27 miles (43 km) northeast of 100 Mile House (on paved backroad), is the angling centre of a region famed for the size of its char, or ‘laker’, as the fish is referred to locally. Car-top boat launching is possible from the Canim Beach Provincial Park at the south end of Canim Lake.
East of Hwy 97, on the road to Canim Lake, you can take your boat over to Mahood Lake (in Wells Gray Provincial Park). This is the boat-only access route into 12-mile-long (19-km) Mahood, which offers good rainbow trout fishing. It’s subject to winds, so be prepared. Look for the ancient pictographs on the rock face of both the north and south sides of the lake near its midpoint.
Lac La Hache, a beautiful lake in a rolling Fraser Plateau setting, has many fishing lodges sprinkled along its perimeter. Boating information is available at the 100 Mile House Visitor Centre on Hwy 97.
Both Horsefly and Quesnel Lakes are good fishing spots for rainbow trout, and The best place to begin fishing around Horsefly is Horsefly Lake Provincial Park.
Nearby Williams Lake, which has a boat launch at Scout Island Nature Centre, has the added attraction of easy paddling around the island and marsh areas, which feature sublime scenery.
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Quesnel Lake is the world’s deepest fjord lake and the largest lake in the North Cariboo. Very good fishing and a popular lake with the locals who don’t mind the three-hour drive east of Quesnel.
Dragon Lake just minutes south of Quesnel on Hwy 97 is popular with boating and water skiing enthusiasts. There is a main boat launch, and a loop road that runs around Dragon Lake. Legion Beach also has boating facilities. Dragon Lake is renowned for its healthy wild stocks of large rainbow trout. If you just want to drive a short way north out of Quesnel on Hwy 97 (about 15 miles/24 km), you’ll find a boat launch at Hush Lake Rest Area.
Puntchesakut Lake in Puntchesakut Lake Provincial Park is a beautiful deep blue lake west of Quesnel. Puntchesakut Lake is a popular picnic and day site, and waterskiing and fishing are popular here.
Ten Mile Lake Provincial Park is another popular lake only 7 miles (11 km) north of Quesnel. There is a boat launch and beaches to use. Waterskiing and fishing are also popular here.
Bowron Lake is located in the beautiful and world-famous Bowron Lake Provincial Park. Powerboats are permitted, but restrictions do apply. Bowron Lake forms part of the Bowron Lakes Canoe Route, which offers one of British Columbia’s most popular and interesting canoe routes. Its extended 72-mile (116-km) rectangular canoe and kayak route through a chain of 6 major lakes, rivers, and creeks linked by portages is legendary, drawing visitors from around the globe. Bowron Lake is accessed from the historic communities of Wells and Barkerville.
Marmot Lake in the Nazko Valley boasts great fishing with a maintained campsite and boat launch area.
Visitors can obtain information from the Visitor Centres on most of the Cariboo’s lakes and rivers, along with the current boating regulations and fishing licence requirements.