May 26, 2020

Ten B.C. Recreation Sites Where You Can Camp and Fish

Many lakes stocked by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC have shoreline recreation sites run by Recreation Sites and Trails BC (a branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development). These sites are often found within integrated resource management areas, where the land is used for a variety of purposes.

Facilities such as outhouses, boat launches, picnic tables, fire rings, and tent sites can be found at many of the sites, but the level of maintenance varies. Those sites designated as “user-maintained” are usually free to use. Others have a nightly fee, and are maintained through agreements with community groups, First Nations, private operators, or other groups.

As most recreation sites do not require an advance reservation, and have minimal fees or are even free, they make great alternatives to provincial park campgrounds. Best of all, many recreation sites are located near fishing hotspots as well. Read on to discover ten camping sites with fantastic freshwater fishing nearby, or use the Recreation Sites and Trails BC map to discover a new camping and fishing location near you.
 

1. Weaver Lake

Location: 57 kilometres north of Chilliwack.
Just southwest of Harrison Lake, Weaver Lake is less than a three-hour drive from Vancouver. As the unpaved Weaver Lake Forestry Service Road has some steep grades, a vehicle with four-wheel-drive may be needed to reach the site. Check the Forest Service Road Conditions website for notifications. Spring and fall are the best times to try your luck for one of Weaver’s stocked Blackwater rainbow trout. A new dock makes this a great fishing destination for families and groups. While a variety of angling methods will work, if in doubt, bottom fishing with Berkley Power Bait is a sure winner. Note that there is no fishing allowed from the fishing boundary signs at the log booms on Weaver Lake downstream to where Sakwi Creek enters Weaver Creek. There is also an engine power restriction of 7.5 kW (10 hp) for boats.

Where to camp: Weaver Lake Recreation Site has 38 campsites available. Some of these can be reserved in advance, but a portion are set aside on a first-come, first-serve basis. Facilities include a boat launch, fishing dock, toilets, and picnic tables.

    

2. Saul Lake

Location: 30 kilometres northwest of Kamloops.
Full of fish, Saul is a great family lake. Known to be a high-producer, it is a good spot for beginning anglers, as your chances of hooking into a rainbow trout are high.
Where to camp:  The rather rustic Saul Lake Recreation Site has four campsites, along with a rough boat launch for car-topper boats.
 

3. McCreight Lake

Location: 63 kilometres northwest of Campbell River.
Cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden char, kokanee, and rainbow trout can all be found in McCreight Lake on Vancouver Island. Shore fishing and trolling from a small boat are both techniques to try. Generally, summer and fall are the best times to fish.
Where to camp: The McCreight Lake Recreation Site and a few other user-maintained sites (including one that is water-access only) are situated by the lake.   
 

4. Alice Lake

Location: 56 kilometres south of Port Hardy.
Escape the crowds of lower Vancouver Island at this 1,064-hectare lake, which is home to native cutthroat trout. Launch your boat at the recreation site at the north end of the lake, and explore this quiet, rugged corner of the Island.
Freshwater regulations stipulate that single barbless hooks must be used. You cannot use bait, and no trout over 50 centimetres (20 inches) may be retained.
Where to camp: The Marble River Recreation Site has 16 campsites, toilets, and a boat launch.
 

5. Tzenzaicut Lake

Location: 61 kilometres southwest of Quesnel.
Since the lake covers 760 hectares, a boat will be very useful for making the most of your time here. With consistent reports of rainbows reaching 25 to 38 centimetres (10 to 15 inches) in length, it is a great, highly productive family-fishing lake. If you want to eat your catch, it’s best to head here before water temperatures get too warm, since summertime algal blooms can adversely affect the flavour of the fish.
Where to camp: Featuring 21 camping spots plus a large boat launch, the Tzenzaicut Lake North Recreation Site is very popular. 
 

6. Hobson Lake

Location: 89 kilometres southwest of Vanderhoof.
Although Hobson Lake is stocked with Blackwater rainbow trout, it is managed as a trophy lake, and all these trout must be released. Be mindful of the bait ban and single barbless hook regulations. As there is no trailered boat launch, a car-topper boat, canoe, or bellyboat are your best options. No ice-fishing allowed.
Where to camp: The Hobson Lake Recreation Site has two campsites.   
 

7. Dee Lake Chain

Location: 36 kilometres northeast of Kelowna.
The Dee Lake Chain, located on a plateau between Vernon and Kelowna, consists of four man-made lakes: Dee, Island, Deer, and Crooked. Dee, the easiest lake to access, is stocked with 30,000 Pennask rainbow trout annually. As the lakes are all connected, the stocked fish do make their way down into the other lakes, although the best fishing is reported to be on Dee. While Crooked can be accessed via a forestry service road, it is a rough ride. The better option may be to follow the fish by paddling from Dee to the other connected lakes. No ice-fishing is allowed; all four lakes are closed December 1st to April 30th.
Where to camp: The Island Lake Recreation Site has 34 campsites (fees apply), toilets, picnic tables, and a boat launch.
 

8. Box Lake

Location: eight kilometres southeast of Nakusp.
Take the winding road up from the valley bottom to this local favourite. The lake is stocked with kokanee and Fraser Valley rainbow trout. Due to its low elevation, it is one of the first lakes in the region to experience ice-off. During the height of summer, when the lake warms up, kokanee and trout can usually be found in the deeper sections. Note that the regulations allow electric motors only. Brook trout daily quota: 20.
Where to camp: The Box Lake Recreation Site has 12 campsites (fees apply), toilets, tables, and a boat launch. A new swimming beach was created in 2019, and there is also a dock. Nearby Summit Lake is also stocked regularly, and provides excellent fishing as well.

 

Image: Recreation Sites and Trails BC

9. Osprey Lake

Location: 36 kilometres northeast of Princeton.
If you prefer travelling paved roads, Osprey Lake is a good option for your next getaway. Located off the Princeton-Summerland Road, this peaceful lake is stocked with Pennask rainbow trout each year. Fly-fishing, or trolling a lure along the lake’s drop-off, are the most-popular methods of angling. Keep in mind the engine power restriction of 7.5 kWh (10hp).
Where to camp: The Osprey Lake Recreation Site has 11 campsites (fee applies), toilets, picnic tables, and a boat launch.
 

10. Mowson Pond

Location: 14 kilometres northeast of Gold Bridge.
Surrounded by breathtaking snow-capped peaks, Mowson Pond is tucked away in the South Chilcotin Mountains. It is stocked regularly with Pennask rainbow trout, and is an ideal spot for fly fishers. As the small lake heats quickly in the summer, fish during the cooler times of the day, or make this a fall destination.
Where to camp: The Mowson Pond Recreation Site has seven campsites as well as picnic tables, a boat launch, and toilets. 

 
 
As always, before you head out for the weekend, make sure you have your freshwater fishing licence, and that you have checked out the fishing regulations for your chosen lake. And, as many of these sites are located within provincial parks, remember to always respect the park rules, wildlife, and your fellow campers.


Author: Jessica Greinke, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC
Images: Jordan Oelrich, Ian McGregor, Recreation Sites and Trails BC