are a number of lakes in North America that hold what I call "super
trout." These are unique bodies of water with rainbow trout
that have the genetics and food sources to grow into the 20 lb-plus
class. Kootenay Lake, Lake Pend Orielle, Naknek Lake and Lake
Illiamna are probably the most well known of the super trout waters
due to the number of fishing camps that service them and their
tributaries. But the big four are not the only places where we
find super trout. Lesser-known Quesnel Lake in the Cariboo region
of British Columbia is another. Quesnel is probably the best kept
fishing secret in all of North America largely due to the few
outfitters on the lake and its remoteness. I rate Quesnel Lake
as one of the top 10 big trout waters on this continent.
of the reasons that Quesnel has such big rainbow trout is that
the lake is a large body of water. Quesnel has a length of 120
km (75 miles) and is the deepest and longest fjord lake in North
America. An initial inspection may give you the impression that
Quesnel is a small sea and, just like the blue waters, the lake
holds numerous fish species, including lake trout, Dolly Varden,
sockeye, kokanee and the rainbow trout. This is not just a big
trout fishery. There are smaller rainbows, from two to four pounds,
that cruise the shorelines of the lake where they feed on insects
and can be easily caught. But the trophy hunter will concentrate
on the large mature fish. The alternative is much like I explained
to a hunting companion that was chasing a blacktail deer on a
bow-hunting trip for elk. "You don't stick a doe when there
are big bulls around."
key to hunting the trophy rainbows is to understand their food
source - the kokanee and sockeye salmon adults and smolts. These
prey fish often feed on or near the surface in open water on zooplankton
and that is the best time to hook into the big rainbows.
opportunities are when the rainbows are migrating to spawn in
or feed at the mouths of the nearby Horsefly and Mitchell rivers.
The sockeye also migrate in and out of the lake and the kokanee
spawn in the lake. Both of these periods are opportune to catch
the big rainbows that feed on them and their eggs.
is a large and complicated lake and best approached with the assistance
of an experienced guide.
Lake is suitable for conventional angling and trolling fly fishing
with large streamers. You are not going to be casting from a float
tube on this lake, although numerous opportunities exist on the
smaller waters nearby. Remember that the rainbows are feeding
on the kokanee that are in turn feed on the zooplankton, which
are feeding on the phytoplankton out in the lake. The wind and
current are shuffling around the phytoplankton and zooplankton.
The kokanee are moving a lot faster than you can catch up and
then cast to so trolling is essential. The big rainbows are also
solitary predators and the spacing between them can be considerable.
Resort on the southern shore of Quesnel
Lake provides sturdy boats with reliable motors, guiding services,
solid meals and fishing-camp style lodging. I highly recommend
Elysia as a place to start.
book BIG TROUT Fly Fishing can also help you to learn more about
the gear and tactics required for this unique style of fly fishing.
Taylor is a freelance outdoor writer and photographer. His currently
book BIG TROUT Fly Fishing is published by The Lyons Press.