May Long Weekend Fishing Favourites

The May long weekend is fast approaching, and many people in B.C. are planning their first outdoor trip of the spring. Anglers are eager to get their lines in the water and harness the longer days, sunshine, and ice-off on many lakes around the province. Whether you are planning an overnight adventure or a day trip, here are our nine favourite lakes to fish during this May long weekend. Fishing is always more exciting when some fish are caught, so target the newly stocked rainbow trout in all of these lakes using a bobber and bait, or by casting and retrieving a spoon or spinner. If you want to try casting a fly, chironomids are a popular food source for trout in the spring. And if you’re really lucky, you might even experience a May fly hatch.

Shannon Lake (West Kelowna)
Shannon Lake Regional Park lies in the heart of West Kelowna. The lake is accessible for both boat and shore anglers. On weekends during the spring, staff from Regional District of Central Okanagan, Peachland Sportsmen's Association and the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC host a Go Fish BC Rod Loan program. Youth under the age of 16 can come and give fishing a try at the new fishing dock – for free. All gear and tackle are provided, and a side of the lake is sectioned off and stocked with catchable-sized rainbow trout just for kids.

Whiteswan Lake (East Kootenays, near Cranbrook)
Whiteswan Lake is just over an hour's drive north of Cranbrook, in Whiteswan Provincial Park. There are several camping areas scattered around this large, emerald-green lake with its stunning setting right in the Rocky Mountains. Access is about twenty kilometres along a well-maintained gravel road that is suitable for most vehicles. Rainbow trout weighing up to 2.5 kilograms can be caught at this time of the year.

Alces Lake  (East Kootenays, near Cranbrook)
Located approximately two kilometres from Whiteswan Lake, Alces is a smaller lake with a provincial campground. If you don't have a boat, you can still fish from shore along the road, or from a new dock that the Society installed last fall right by the campground. With eager-to-bite rainbow trout weighing up to 2.5 kilograms, Alces has great fishing. Get there early though, because the campsites can fill up quickly.

Lac Le Jeune (near Kamloops)
With its well-maintained boat launch and large fishing dock in the day-use area, Lac Le Jeune is extremely accessible for every type of angler. Lac Le Jeune is renowned for its excellent rainbow trout fishing, and it's not uncommon to catch 1.5-kilogram specimens. Don't have fishing gear, but want to give fishing a try? During the Saturday of the May long weekend, Society staff will be delivering a free Learn to Fish program and hosting a Rod Loan program at Lac Le Jeune Provincial Park. Please check out the events page on our website for more information.

Quesnel Lake (Cariboo region, near Williams Lake)
Quesnel Lake, with its pristine waters and abundance of large rainbow trout, is one of the most popular lakes in B.C., and the deepest! There are designated campgrounds for overnight adventures, and sandy beaches offering lots of shore access to fishing. Guided fishing tours can also be arranged at the many resorts around the lake. This lake has rainbow and bull trout tagged with high-reward tags; please check out our blog for more information.

Kootenay Lake (near Nelson)
Kootenay Lake is a short drive from scenic Nelson. It offers a variety of activities for all ages: guided fishing tours, shore fishing, boat access, and hiking. Kootenay Lake currently boasts an all-time-high catch rate for rainbow trout, and big fish can be caught from a boat or shore. Harvest regulations for Kootenay Lake have been lifted for rainbow and bull trout. This liberalization encourages anglers to harvest their catch and, in turn, decrease these fish-eaters’ predation on kokanee (the sockeye salmon's freshwater counterpart).

Buttle Lake (near Campbell River)
Buttle Lake Provincial Park is a great place for families wanting to camp. For those looking for a quieter stay, keep driving to the Ralph River campground. There are lots of day-hike options out of Strathcona Provincial Park and Myra Falls at the head of the lake. Fishing is possible from shore in May; however, a boat is best for accessing the middle of the lake. Stop at Echo Lake to try out the new dock for catchable-sized rainbow trout, and take a rest before continuing on to the campground. For patient anglers, Buttle Lake has the potential for rainbow trout and big cutthroat trout.



Fuller Lake (near Duncan)
Fuller Lake is located on the right, off the Island Highway just north of Duncan. Fuller Lake Park offers a fishing pier, boat launch, and lots of shady shore-fishing spots around the park. There are change rooms, pickleball courts, a picnic area, and washrooms. The Society stocks Fuller Lake with 7,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout each year (3,500 in the spring and fall), so this lake is the place to catch large fish. Grab your swimsuit, picnic basket, and fishing rod, and enjoy the day.

Kissinger Lake (near Lake Cowichan)
For those wanting to explore more remote lakes, head to Kissinger Lake, 30 minutes outside of Lake Cowichan via a logging road. There are 26 campsites operated by TimberWest, a boat launch, and shore fishing. Toilets, potable water, and garbage bins are provided at the campsites. The Society stocked Kissinger Lake with 1,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout in late March, so those fish are ready to bite. Check out our up-to-date stocking reports on our website.

Before you head out fishing for the May long weekend, make sure that – along with your cooler – you have a valid freshwater fishing licence, and that you have checked out the fishing regulations for your favourite lake.

Author: Hayley Atkins, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC
Photo Credit: Glenn Gerbrandt, Tess Hingert, and Brian Degelder