in the heart of the Chilcotin Plateau is one of the most magnificent
rivers in British Columbia.
Chilko River runs wild and free until it rushes into the much smaller
Chilcotin River near the village of
Alexis Creek . There, the Chilko loses its name to its tributary,
and together they flow eastward until they enter the Fraser River
Williams Lake .
rafting companies take their thrill seeking clientele down this
wild river. But, for the angler, there is a much shorter section
that interests them. The upper few miles of the Chilko River has
some of the best flyfishing for large trout in the province.
Rainbow trout and
Dolly Varden char up to ten pounds are taken each year in this
key to the river's success is spectacularly beautiful
Chilko Lake . This sixty mile long lake is nestled on the eastern
side of the Coast Range. Some of the highest mountains in the province
surround the western end of Chilko Lake. The glaciers provide a
constant supply of cold, clear water, and give the lake its startling
blue colour. The lake filters out most of the suspended solids,
but enough remain to tint the Chilko river a beautiful cerulean
river runs out of the lake through a narrow gap by Ts'ylos Park.
There are a couple of excellent shoals near the lake outlet. After
cutting through the gap the river carves out a deep hole then fans
into a wide bay surrounding an island. Trout are constantly cruising
on the lookout for food and rise every evening in the bay. At the
tail end of the island the Chilko changes into a true river about
a 100 meters wide. The current picks up speed and this is about
the limit downstream for motorless craft, without having to walk
back. The river flows down under the cable span and runs into the
Blue Hole near the Mclean's Lodge. After the Blue Hole the river
narrows and picks up more speed. It rushes through a few S bends
and spreads into the relatively shallow Canoe Crossing Reach. Fishing
can be quite good to the end of Canoe Crossing. Beyond that only
experienced rafters or jet boats should venture. Aluminum boats
with a minimum of 10 HP can still power back upstream from Canoe
Crossing, but. Boaters should memorize the channels and dangerous
shallow water on the way downstream. Knocking out a motor can be
& Services in the Chilko River area
Any good fishery needs an abundant food supply and the Chilko has
this in spades.
Sockeye salmon return to the lake each fall to spawn near the
outlet. Their eggs feed the trout and the decaying salmon carcasses
provide a nutrient base for insects and small fish. The hatching
salmon fry offer the trout a year-round food supply. The Chilko
also has great insect hatches, and especially stoneflies. Some of
the stoneflies are huge and require a size 4 long shank hook to
imitate them. Golden stones are the predominant species, but there
are also some huge black ones, several grey and brown species, and
the ever present little Lime Sally. Caddis are also in abundance
and they hatch during most summer evenings. Mayflies are plentiful,
but trout don't seem to key on them as much as the larger insects.
Trout usually aren't selective, and presentation is far more important
than fly pattern.
of fly lines can be important for consistent success on the Chilko.
During a major insect hatch when trout are feeding near the surface,
a floating line is the obvious choice. Even without a hatch, in
water shallower than 2 meters, it is sometimes possible to bring
a trout to the surface. A large deer hair caddis pattern is the
usual pattern of choice. This happens more frequently on summer
evenings than during the day. Small and medium size trout cruise
the surface of the lake outlet every summer evening. These trout
are usually susceptible to a well placed Lime Sally imitation.
Minnow patterns and stonefly nymphs require a fast sinking line
to get the fly down in the heavy current. Minnow patterns are especially
effective because it's hard to fish them improperly. Trout will
take a minnow tumbling along the bottom or when retrieved quickly.
In contrast, a stonefly imitation must drift along drag free like
the outlet of the lake there is a hole over 10 meters deep where
Large rainbows and bull trout cruise the bottom. They can only be
taken with a very fast sinking line. A Wooly Bugger, Shaggy Dragon
or minnow pattern can sometimes deceive one of these trophies.
only drawback to the Chilko River is it requires a boat to fish
it properly. The river is wide and deep and the forest comes right
down to the shore. There are very few gravel bars shallow enough
to wade. Many guide boats use jet outboard motors to run the swift
river. The boats run upstream, then motors are shut off and the
guides control the boats with oars while clients cast to the side
or quartering downstream. When the drift is finished the boats return
upstream under power. Most guides are responsible and stay clear
of other drifting boats. Amateurs should follow their example.
Lake is contained in Ts'ylos Provincial Park, but sections of the
upper Chilko River are on private property. There are several resorts
along the river that cater to anglers, horseback riders and general
outdoor enthusiasts. The resorts vary from fairly rustic to truly