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Fishing in the West Chilcotin

"He battled that Salmon for eight hours on his fly line, running up and down the shore line.

The West Chilcotin is probably best known for its premier sport fishing. It's what everyone comes here for. The serenity, the timeless beauty, and the fantastic, heartstopping, rod bending, tail dance fishing.

Many of the lakes in the West Chilcotin are cold, clean, pristine and have lots of freshwater shrimp for feed. As a result, fish like the wild Rainbow Trout can grow to a good size, are whopping fighters, and excellent eating, with the flesh firm and often the color of salmon.

Along the Turner Lake Chain you can fish for Dolly Varden as well as rainbow trout and all of the local area lakes abound with coastal cutthroat trout, thanks to Ralph Edwards who pioneered Lonesome Lake long before the Park was formed. Somehow, he stocked the lakes by carrying trout fingerlings up from the Atnarko River system. On the other hand, Tatla Lake is a popular Kokanee fishery with sizes averaging 14-16 inches while nearby Bluff and Horn Lakes have Bull Trout to 10 pounds!

The Dean River is world famous for its fly fishing and was the host river for the Commonwealth Fly-Fishing Championships in 1993 which included John Denver as the celebrity angler. Known for its fighting rainbows, operators can also land you on the lower Dean for some of the best adventure Steelhead fly fishing in the world. And if you like River fishing, the Atnarko and Bella Coola Rivers are the place to be for Pink, Chinook, and Coho salmon using flies, artificial wool, spoons or bait where regulations permit.

All of the southern lakes are loaded with fish and of course there's Chilko Lake with Rainbow Trout up to six pounds and Bull Trout up to 10 pounds. Chinook and Sockeye Salmon return to the lake each year to spawn near the outlet so salmon fry provides lots of food for the trout, as well as the abundant insect hatches. The Chilko river is considered one of British Columbia's finest catch and release fly fishing rivers where you can test your line against Rainbow Trout, Bull Trout and Dolly Varden to 10 pounds.

Throughout the Chilcotin there are remote lodges and resorts that are fly in only, offering some of the best fishing anywhere. Often you will have an entire lake or river to yourself, and as one air charter service puts it, there are so many lakes and streams to fish in the Chilcotin that you will never have to cast a line over the same water twice in your lifetime.

Before going fishing, remember that you need all appropriate licenses, depending on what species you are fishing for. For information on fishing in British Columbia, check the fishing regulations.

Steep mountains outline a fly fisherman in the river.
 
A young boy holds up his catch of two rainbow trout.
 
Man fishes the lake in a Zodiac.
 
Photo of river fisherman courtesy Moose Lake Lodge.
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