The Quesnel Lake system forms one of the most dynamic rainbow trout fisheries in the world, and anglers who visit Northern Lights Lodge catch wild rainbow trout like nowhere else. These “Quesnel rainbows” are a unique strain that don’t spawn until they are 7 or 8 years old. Avoiding the rigors of spawning allows them to focus on growth. They simply eat and grow. And a high number of trout per mile means these rainbows must be competitive to survive—they are known as some of the most voracious feeders you’ll ever see and they key in on specific hatches and the dry flies that match them.
The best river fishing takes place from mid-July through mid-October, when NLL’s experienced guides can introduce you to four magnificent rivers in the surrounding Cariboo Mountains—the Quesnel, Horsefly, Mitchell, and Cariboo. During the warm summer and early fall months these rivers produce some of the finest dry fly fishing for rainbow trout that you’ll find anywhere on the planet. All of these rivers offer beautiful, brightly colored rainbows that average about 16 inches and often surpass the magic 20-inch mark. Notably, the glacier-fed Cariboo and the Mitchell hold large bull trout up to 35 inches long.
Beginning in September and extending through October, anglers can fish egg patterns and other flies behind spawning sockeye salmon. During any given year Quesnel Lake might host one of the largest sockeye salmon runs in Canada. These fish begin their journeys at the mouth of the Fraser River in Vancouver, British Columbia, and swim north 500 miles to their spawning grounds at Quesnel. They migrate through the lake and ascend numerous tributary streams with large, predatory rainbow and bull trout following them. During this time, expect to see multiple stacks of rainbow and bull trout trailing behind spawning salmon, chomping on eggs that float by.
There’s enough river fishing to keep an angler busy, but the region’s lake fishing is amazing, especially during spring and fall. In recent years, lodge owners Skeed and Sharon Borkowski and their guides have discovered several small area lakes offering incredible fishing and large trout. Again, these lakes fish best early and late in the season and offer outstanding dry fly and chironomid fishing from jon boats and float tubes. This is fun fishing at its best with the possibility of landing a 10-pound-plus rainbow trout. Most of these lakes offer native trout; a handful are stocked with the appealing Pennask, Yellowbelly, and Blackwater rainbow trout, fish that grow to double-digit poundage.
When visiting Northern Lights Lodge, be ready for plenty of hookups, an abundance of wildlife sightings, and an overall classic Canadian fishing experience that you, your family, and friends will never forget.
Boats and Equipment
Northern Lights Lodge has a fleet of driftboats and jet boats that allow access to remote places where you won’t see another angler and you’ll have the fish to yourself. Anglers walk and wade on the tributary streams and at stream mouths. Aluminum jon boats with gas engines are used in conjunction with float-tubes for stillwater fishing. NLL has a well stocked fly shop with all the local patterns you’ll need, plus other accessories. Rental equipment is also available.