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Gateway to Fishing Adventures: Test your luck at lakes along Highway 24

The Fishing Highway has opportunities for every kind of angler
Sheridan Lake at sunset. (Photo submitted)

This story and many others are part of the publication, Gateway to Fishing Adventures in the Cariboo Chilcotin, available now at the Williams Lake Tribune, 100 Mile House Free Press and Quesnel Observer newspaper offices

With so many lakes along Highway 24, it only makes sense to take advantage of them and try to catch the biggest fish for bragging rights or a mouth-watering fillet.

Bridge Lake, Fawn Lake, Sheridan Lake and all the smaller lakes in the area are abundant with wildlife, fantastic sights and fresh air to help forget the city. The Fishing Highway 24 Tourist Association has turned the historic route for fur traders into a prime destination for all things outdoors since 2006.

“I don’t know anywhere that has such a density of different lakes or accessible lakes,” said Irene Meili, the chair of the association. “People don’t realize Highway 24, that they drive on so often while they go to Prince George or so, is actually a recreation area well known for fishing and horseback riding.”

The density allows for people to stay at one of the resorts or bed and breakfasts on the highway and fish at multiple lakes in one day or they can pitch a tent on one lake and go to a different lake the next day.

“We hear from a lot of different types of people that they think this is what Canada looks like - small lakes, quiet lakes, the trees. That’s just their old image of Canada, off the homesteads and all that,” said Meili.

Affordable prices also set the area apart from fishing areas in the province. For a basic camp with water and power for the average family is priced between $25 to $30 per day. A rustic cabin would be roughly $90 and modern cabins with fully equipped kitchens could be roughly $130.

The Fishing Highway has opportunities for every kind of angler. The lakes contain Lake Trout, Kokanee, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, and Burbot that anglers can target. With so many different lakes there is always a lake that can match an angler’s fishing style.

Some lakes are specifically stocked with a certain type of fish, such as Sheridan Lake which is filled with rainbow trout.

Irish Lake is one of the most fished lakes. It is right beside the highway and has easy access to it. Fawn is also a popular one but the two are for electric motors only.

Several lakes now offer public fishing docks and easy access through recreation sites: Crystal Lake, Bridge lake, Irish Lake, Hathaway Lake and Phinetta Lake. The rec sites at Deer Lake, Goose Lake and Latremouille Lake at the eastern end of Highway 24, above Little Fort, have seen some major upgrades and are great spots to camp and fish.

Various methods of fishing can be used on the lakes such as fly fishing, trolling and spin casting. Of course, during the colder months when the water freezes, it’s time to bring the smaller rod out and drill a hole into the ice for some ice fishing.

When fishing, Meili asks anglers to always follow the Freshwater Fishing Regulations for Region 5 or 3, which the Fishing Highway falls under. That includes carrying a valid BC Recreational Freshwater Fishing License and an up-to-date Transport Canada Pleasure Craft Operator Card (if applicable).

The association was created in 2006 to help connect the various local businesses in the area focusing on the tourism industry, stretching from Hwy 97 to Little Fort. Most of the members of the association are resorts, guest ranches and bed and breakfasts but some restaurants and other services in the area, such as guiding businesses also belong.

If a member resort is booked up and a tourist comes in looking for a place, staff can direct them to another location that could be more to their liking.

“I can send people to a spot that I’m aware of what they’re offering and I know that they would be a fit for those people,” said Meili. “Tourists up here are very diverse. Some bring their huge vehicle and require 30 or 50 amps power, others bring their self-contained units and don’t want the luxury of a high-end end campground. Because we are such a small area it is very important that we send the guests to the right spot.”

At the end of the day though, it is the friendly approach locals take towards tourists differentiating them from other fishing areas in British Columbia.

“Up here you’re welcome, everybody helps. People will stop and ask you, “Can I help you?” It’s very, very friendly and that sets us apart from the touristy parts of British Columbia that get a lot of pressure daily,” said Meili.