June 21, 2019

Improved River Access for Anglers

Nothing is more frustrating than knowing that some great fishing awaits on one of your nearby rivers if only access weren’t an issue. Limited access leads to crowding and concentrated fishing pressure when only certain locations are available. Safety can also be a problem.

The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC has been working with local angling groups, provincial and municipal governments, and landowners to identify, and then improve or create, entry points along rivers for anglers in boats and on foot. Since 2015, with financial support from the Society, new access at several key locations on rivers has been developed. Check out one near you!

Lower Fraser River – Island 22 Boat Launch near Chilliwack (completed in 2018)

With up to 200 launches a day, the Island 22 Boat Launch is the most heavily used boat launch for the Fraser River. With anglers scrabbling to get on the river to pursue salmon and sturgeon, traffic can be crazy at times. During periods of high water, the almost-level grade of the upper launch and parking area made launching boats difficult. A partnership of the Society, the Fraser Valley Regional District, and Job Creation Partnerships, with significant financial contributions from each, delivered a major improvement to this launch site. The boat launch is now properly contoured and more steeply graded to accommodate vehicles at all water levels. A second entrance to the site was added to improve traffic flow. Feedback from the stakeholders about this project has been overwhelmingly positive.

Fraser River boat launch.


Elk River – Boat Launch Creation and Improvement in the Kootenays (completed in 2016)

The Elk River in the Kootenays is a popular destination to fish for trout on both Classified and Unclassified Waters. However, many anglers were complaining that fishing quality was being degraded by crowding due to limited access, and that existing launch sites were unsafe. Furthermore, provincial fisheries staff had concerns regarding site-specific pressure on wild trout populations. The Society committed to funding the creation of the new Elkford Municipal Launch, and improving three existing launch sites at the Hosmer, Elko (River Road FSR), and Morrissey bridges. Anglers can now access launches (with improved parking as well) that are suitable for 2-wheel-drive vehicles, allowing fishing pressure to be spread over a larger area.

New Elkford boat launch.

Mahood and Clearwater River – Trail Access Improvements (completed in 2016)

Wells Gray Provincial Park offers a rare opportunity to fish rivers for wild rainbow trout in the Thompson-Nicola region – in particular, the Mahood and Clearwater rivers, which offer a spectacular wilderness setting in which to fish. Within the park, most access along the river must be by foot. Unfortunately, access trails to either of these rivers had fallen into disrepair, creating challenging and unsafe conditions for anglers. The Society supported the restoration of approximate 1.5 kilometres of key access along the Upper Mahood River and the Upper Horseshoe trails, which has enabled anglers to once again access popular fishing hotspots.


Clearing the trails.

 Map for trail to angling spot along Upper Mahood River in Wells Gray Prov. Park.

Map for angling spot along Upper Horseshoe trail, Wells Gray Prov. Park.

Don’t hesitate to let us know if you are aware of other such opportunities to improve access.

This blog series has been established as a way to inform freshwater anglers in B.C. about projects that their angling licence dollars support. In 2015, the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC began receiving 100% (up from 70%) of all freshwater angling licence fees. With this additional funding, the Society committed to broadening the scope of its activities to include joint initiatives with the Provincial Government to support projects that benefit freshwater recreational fishing around B.C.

Author: Sue Pollard, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC staff
Images: Curtis Hall, Mike Phelps, Sue Pollard