NORTHERN LIGHTS LODGE

Quick Facts
Season

May—October

Species

Rainbow trout, bull trout

Accommodations

Classic Canadian main lodge with attached rooms and private cabins

Max Occupancy

12

The Experience

Simply put, the waters around Quesnel Lake and Northern Lights Lodge are rainbow trout nirvana. At NLL, guests fish four major rivers and countless lakes from a classic Canadian wilderness lodge, with chances to land six distinct strains of wild rainbow trout that range between 16 and 26 inches. (The lodge record measured 37 inches long.) In surrounding lakes, anglers battle rainbows that range to 10 pounds-plus. If you want to catch a lot of good sized and super-aggressive rainbow trout (and big bull trout, too) in a beautiful and remote environment, this is your place. Be ready—these wild rainbows are looking up and hammer dry flies.

Northern Lights Lodge

OVERVIEW

Northern Lights Lodge offers 60 years of lake fishing knowledge and has specialized on the area’s trout-rich rivers—including the Quesnel, Cariboo, Horsefly and Mitchell—for the past 20 years. This destination lodge is situated on 2,185 feet of shoreline, on the jaw-dropping beautiful and 62-mile long Quesnel Lake. The lodge is close to the lake’s outflow, which marks the beginning of the highly productive Quesnel River. Literally, as soon as guests leave the dock, they gain nearly exclusive access to 200,000 acres of Quesnel Lake’s legendary rainbow trout fishery, and all the productive tributary streams feeding into it.

The season starts in spring with some amazing stillwater dry fly opportunities on several of the area’s trophy lakes (there are 40 lakes to choose from in a 20-mile radius of the lodge). Rainbows in the 10-pound class are possible at this time and NLL’s accomplished guides know exactly when and where to find them on a daily basis.

By late June, fishing on the Quesnel, Cariboo, Horsefly and Mitchell rivers perks. The best dry-fly fishing, when anglers match solid mayfly, caddis and stonefly hatches—often while floating downstream in McKenzie style driftboats—begins in July and runs into early September.

A unique situation occurs in September when sockeye salmon arrive at Quesnel Lake and begin their run into the Horsefly and Mitchell rivers, among many other streams. At this time Quesnel’s biggest rainbow and bull trout often move out of the big lake and into these streams to feast on protein-rich salmon eggs and decaying salmon carcasses, a situation that many anglers call “an Alaska-style experience in the middle of British Columbia.” When that happens, anglers can sight-fish with egg patterns and flesh flies, targeting rainbow trout to 24 inches and bull trout running larger than that. The lodge record rainbow—37 inches long—was caught on a drifted egg imitation.

When not on the water fishing, NLL guests can kick back and enjoy this modern and world-class Canadian wilderness lodge, which was built from cedar logs, cut from the property, in 1942. It has a unique “homey” feeling—with lots of lamps, wood, leather and big game mounts—and offers home-cooked meals that revive guests after their big days on the water.

THE FISHING

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 never before. These “Quesnel rainbows” are a unique strain that don’t spawn when they are seven to eight years old. Avoiding the rigors of spawning allows them to focus on growth. With no distraction 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 magical 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 other flies behind spawning sockeye salmon. During any given year Quesnel Lake might host one of the largest sockeye salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest. 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 Lake. 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 hook-ups, an abundance of wildlife sightings, and an overall classic Canadian fishing experience that you, your family, and friends will never forget.

 

BOATS & 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.

ACCOMMODATION

NLL guests can stay in the main lodge, or in fully furnished, private cabins built adjacent to the main lodge. In-lodge rooms are located around the perimeter of the lodge and accessed by a wraparound deck providing private entrances into each room.

The lodge features a large common area with an open post-and-beam vaulted ceiling that’s complemented by a large stone fireplace and community fly-tying bench. The tying bench is equipped with vices and all the accessories needed to make your own flies; enthusiasts and novices enjoy time around the fireplace creating new flies to use the following day. Northern Lights Lodge also offers high speed Internet throughout the property.

 

CUISINE

Delicious home-cooked meals, soft drinks, beer and fine wine are included. Guests can bring their preferred spirits or arrange for the lodge to purchase items in advance of arrival.

TRAVEL

Reaching the lodge is easy. International flights arrive in either Vancouver, Victoria or Kelowna. Once you’ve cleared customs and collect luggage you’ll board a domestic flight to Williams Lake on Central Mountain Air or Pacific Coastal Airlines. Hosts greet you at the Williams Lake airport. From there, it’s a beautiful one-hour drive through spectacular scenery to the banks of Quesnel Lake and Northern Lights Lodge.

The approximate distances to Williams Lake from Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, BC are as follows:

  • Portland: 612 miles, 985 km
  • Seattle: 439 miles, 706 km
  • Vancouver: 341 miles, 549 km

All U.S. citizens are required to have a valid passport that does not expire within 6 months of trip dates. Citizens of the U.S., the British Commonwealth, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, and the European Community are NOT required to have Visas. All children 18 years of age or younger accompanied by only one parent or legal guardian must have a notarized letter of consent from the other parent stating the child/children have his/her permission to travel. Single parents need notarized documentation of divorce or a spousal death certificate. Unaccompanied Minors require a notarized letter of consent signed by both parents.

Feel free to contact us at Gils Fly Fishing International for more information.

RATES/PACKAGES

EARLY SEASON STILLWATER FISHING

MAY 4—JUNE 27

Stay 6 days/5 nights with four full days of guided fishing

One guide per two anglers.

Fly fish for trophy rainbow trout, ranging to 10 pounds-plus.

Buck-tailing/dry fly fishing/Trolling for trophy lake trout

Fly fish streamers for trophy bull trout

Price—$2,950, plus license and tax

Dates

May 4 to 9

May 11 to May 16

May 18 to May 23

May 25 to May 30

June 1 to June 6

June 8 to June 13

June 15 to June 20

June 22 to June 27

 

RIVER FISHING TRIPS

JULY 5—AUG 16 (Dry fly bonanza)

Stay 7 Days/5 nights with five full days of guided river fishing

Price: $3,950, plus license and tax

Dates

July 5 to July 11

July 14 to July 20

July 23 to July 29

July 31 to Aug 6

Aug 10 to Aug 16

 

AUG 31–SEPT 30 (Trophy time)

Stay 7 Days/6 Nights with five full days of guided river fishing

Price: $4,250, plus license and tax

Dates

Aug 31 to Sept 6

Sept 8 to Sept 14

Sept 16 to Sept 22

Sept 24 to Sept 30

 

OCT 4—OCT 18 (All tributaries and creek mouths for trophy trout)

Stay 6 Days/5 Nights with five full days of guided river fishing

Price: $4,250 USD, plus license and tax

Dates

Oct 4 to Oct 10

Oct 12 to Oct 18

 

NOTE: For all dates single person bookings available at no extra charge.

Don’t have time a full length trip? Not to worry—Gil’s Fly Fishing International can customize trips to suit your schedule. Handicapped anglers don’t fear; call Gil’s Fly Fishing International and we can discuss how NLL can get you safely on the water and back off the water . . . with a sore arm from fighting rainbows and bull trout.

 

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Northern Lights Lodge picks up and return guests to the Williams Lake airport, which is a one-hour flight from Vancouver, British Columbia.

Delicious home cooked meals, complimentary beer and fine wine.

Lodge rooms provided for individuals, cabins for couples.

All packages are fully guided by experienced professions with quality equipment.

 

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED

Airfare to Canada.

Fishing license.

Gratuities for guides and staff.

Some alcoholic beverages.

Applicable government tax.

 

At Gil’s Fly Fishing International, we are always happy to help you book a trip without charging any fees. We do not believe in extra payments, which is why even if you book a trip directly through the lodge, the amount will be exactly the same. Rates are indicated in U.S. dollars, per person.

TERMS (DEPOSITS AND REFUNDS)

Bookings are confirmed with a 50 percent deposit. Balance must be received before the start of your trip. Notification of cancellation must be received 60 days prior to your scheduled arrival in order to receive a full credit for an alternate date. All payments are final and nonrefundable, with the exception of a medical or family emergency at our discretion.