National treasures: British Columbia
Wet a line while marvelling at marine wildlife, ancient trees and a desert playground
From incredible vistas and unique landscapes to marine wonderlands, these are the top spots to fish and take in Canada’s awesome natural wonders
Diverse island wildlife and giant chinook salmon
Queen Charlotte Lodge
Across the Hecate Strait from mainland B.C.’s northern coast, the Haida Gwaii archipelago is renowned as the “Galapagos of the North,” featuring unique ecosystems, abundant wildlife and fantastic fishing. Particularly spectacular is the top of northernmost Graham Island, where the few fishing resorts are only accessible by boat, helicopter or float plane. Whether you’re mooching for trophy chinook or jigging for giant halibut and plentiful groundfish, there’s a good chance of spotting marauding orcas, breaching humpbacks and diving bald eagles scooping up talons full of needlefish. Then there’s the rugged shoreline, where you’re likely to see basking sea lions, as well as black bears and Sitka deer emerging from the mist-shrouded rainforests. Just don’t forget to keep an eye on your line, too.
Learn more: www.gohaidagwaii.ca
Queen Charlotte Lodge
Massive ancient trees and big salmon and trout
Destination BC/Sean Scott
With its 800-year-old Douglas firs, some standing nearly 75 metres tall, this stand of old-growth forest in Vancouver Island’s MacMillan Provincial Park has been compared to a place of worship—and fittingly known as Cathedral Grove. Also home to giant western red cedar, western hemlock and balsam fir, the park sits on the western shore of Cameron Lake, where you can find big brown and cutthroat trout, as well as kokanee salmon. Courtney Ogilvie of nearby Nile Creek Fly Shop says most anglers fish near the drop-off where the Cameron River comes in, and along the highway wall. If lake fishing isn’t your thing, the Grove is just 16 kilometres east of Port Alberni, which bills itself as the Salmon Fishing Capital of the World.
Learn more: www.nilecreekflyshop.com
Unique arid landscape and multispecies fishing
Locals call it Canada’s “pocket desert,” a narrow, 38-kilometre stretch of shrub steppe in the southern Okanagan Valley surrounding the town of Osoyoos and its like-named lake. Think spaghetti western. More widely known as the Okanagan Desert, or the Osoyoos Arid Biotic Zone to scientists, the parched landscape is home to roughly 100 at-risk plant species such as antelope brush, some 300 rare insects and spiders and a menagerie of other critters, including western rattlesnakes, scorpions and canyon wrens. Some dispute whether it’s a true desert, but with minimal rainfall and temperatures soaring above 38°C, it certainly acts the part of Canada’s only desert. And in the midst of it all? Osoyoos Lake, boasting excellent fishing for bass, kokanee, rainbows and—runs permitting—sockeye salmon.
Learn more: www.destinationosoyoos.com