There are numerous good fishing lakes in the greater Nanaimo area. Many of these lakes are stocked on a regular basis with catchable-sized trout. These fish are raised and released by Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC staff at the Vancouver Island Trout Hatchery in Duncan.
Colliery Dams provide great fishing action in a near-wilderness setting, only minutes away from life in a busy city. This series of three small lakes is located within a large City of Nanaimo park. A well-maintained walking trail passes by and around each of the lakes, and offers good locations to fish from shore. The most productive times to fish these lakes are the spring and fall.
All that is needed to catch fish are a lightweight spinning rod-and-reel combo (loaded with six-pound test monofilament) plus a basic assortment of small hooks, sinkers, swivels, floats, and bait. Preferred baits include earthworms, single salmon eggs, and artificial baits like Berkley Gulp or Power Bait.
Suspending bait on, or just off, the bottom is one of the most effective methods for catching fish. The basic still-fishing setup involves securing a quarter- or eighth-ounce sinker on the main line, and attaching a small swivel immediately below the sinker. Then tie a 50-cm piece of monofilament leader to the other end of the swivel. Tie a #10 bait hook to the leader, and attach your preferred bait. Cast out, allow the setup to sink to the bottom, and then watch the tip of your rod for a bite. Use the same setup with a float or bobber, which you can adjust so your bait will hang at different depths, from just below the surface to right off the bottom.
Casting and retrieving spinner lures can also be productive. Panther Martin, Mepps Black Fury, Gibbs Silvex, and Blue Fox spinners are good for catching the attention of trout.
There are also several spots on these three lakes where there is enough room to fly-fish. Try patterns like chironomid pupa, leeches, and damselfly nymphs, using both floating and sinking fly lines. The spring and fall months, when lake waters are cooler, will be the best times to try fly-fishing.
The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC also offers regular Learn to Fish classes at Colliery Dams as part of their Fishing in the City Program. Check out gofishbc.com for more details, including registration and when these events are taking place. Great videos of the fishing opportunities available at Lookout Lake in Langford and Colliery Dams in Nanaimo are available here (LINK TO ROD’S VIDEOS)
Westwood is another great trout-fishing lake near Nanaimo. A much bigger lake, it is best fished from a small car-top fishing craft. There is a good boat launch, but please note, regulations permit only electric motors on this lake. A trail around the lake provides access to several shore-fishing sites. Some of the best fishing occurs at the western end the lake, where the water is shallower.
Casting or trolling spinners, or still-fishing with bait, are very good tactics for this lake. Fly-fishers do well with chironomids, mayfly nymphs, and leeches. As with most coastal lakes, the best fishing occurs in the spring and fall; however, as Westwood is large enough, there can still be good fishing during the summer.
Accessed from Dunbar City Park in the northwest of Nanaimo, Green Lake is another choice fishing hole. This lake is best fished from a car-top boat, canoe, or float tube. The rural setting makes Green a pretty spot for fishing in the morning or evening. Regularly stocked with rainbow trout, all the fishing tactics previously mentioned will work on this lake. With decent chironomid hatches, it offers particularly good springtime fly-fishing.