They Really Do!
After talking with Stuart Maitland, Eureka Peak Lodge & Outfitters, we knew that the Cariboo Region would offer us adventure and some excellent fly fishing opportunities.
Last July equipped with our favourite fly rods and the recommended flies my husband Richard and I and our friends John and Barb Sadler arrived at the Main Lodge on Gotchen Lake. We were greeted by the friendly staff, shown our comfortable cabins and headed out for an afternoon of fishing on Gotchen Lake. We were surrounded by the call of the northern loon as we watched for rises along the shoreline. Near the inlet creek John and Barb had discovered some excellent dry fly fishing. It was really fun to watch Barb, our new fisherman, as she landed 16 inch wild rainbow which took to the air fairly quickly after they were hooked. Those fish were acrobats. That first afternoon we each caught and released numerous wild Rainbows and several Kokanee. At sunset we returned to the lodge for an outstanding dinner prepared and served by Cherie. We shared stories and planned for the next day. After Stuart told us that Dylan would take us to a lake where there were so many fish that they jump into your float tube, we could hardly wait.
Our first full day was a float tubing adventure on Gilligan Lake. Barb had never been in a float tube but she learned the technique quickly and figured that float tubing could be quite relaxing. When a good sized trout took her fly and created an "explosion" on the surface of the lake, the relaxing part was over. We witnessed numerous "explosions" and yes; the trout do jump into float tubes. It is quite exciting and a bit unnerving to have a 16 inch trout come unexpectedly from behind and land in your lap. We each caught numerous 14 - 18 inch Rainbows on both wet and dry flies as we watched Eagles and Ospreys soar and plummet for their dinner.
The next morning Josh took us to Darien Lake. Getting to the lake was part of the "Cariboo Adventure" as the old logging roads are steep, narrow and bumpy but Josh did a fine job of dodging trees and mud holes and we arrived with boat and float tubes. As we launched, we saw numerous rises and rings on the water's surface. We were told that Darien is a "sight fishing" lake. The clarity of the water enables us to see many trout feeding along the shoals and drop off areas. What fun to cast to one of those trout and watch it take the fly. Within seconds that trout would be 2 feet out of the water as it tried to get rid of the hook. The fish in Darien Lake are plentiful, wild, and beautiful. The 14 - 18 inch rainbows preferred wet flies but we each took several nice fish on dries. At the far end of the lake we saw a large buck deer and soon, afterward a cow moose and her 3 calves waded into the shallows for a few reeds. Eagles watched from tall perches and the loons made their presence known. What a great day. At the lodge we again shared stories, enjoyed another awesome dinner and planed for our next fishing excursion with Stuart.
McKee Lake, we learned, held some large trout. The weather was unsettled and there was no surface activity so we used sinking line and wet flies to lure the big rainbows from the depths. We each took fish that ranged from 14 - 19 ½ inches.
Ballen Lake was on the agenda next. According to Stuart many "pin fish" have been taken from this lake. Again, the weather was blustery so we fished fairly deep as the breeze helped to propel our float tubes across the lake. We were essentially trolling and managed to take several 16 - 18 inch trout before Richard and John each took 20 ½ inch "pin fish".
Late in the afternoon on the drive back to the lodge we rounded a bend in the road and were surprised to see two adult Canadian Lynx fighting in the middle of the road. We were able to get some good video and several snap shots as the growling opponents ambled to the side of the road, laid down for a short time then disappeared into the woods. At dinner Richard and John received their silver pins and Stuart's special Jager Meister toast.
A trip to the Horsefly River was planned for the next 2 days. Richard and I would go on the first day and John and Barb on the second day. The water had been high and our trip was the first on the season. We had heard all about the huge "football" shaped rainbows in this premier river so we eagerly anticipated our float trip. River fishing from a drift boat is one of our favourite modes of fishing. As we travelled to the river we spotted several moose and a very large mule deer buck.
At Stuart's ranch we launched the drift boat. The water was still high but visibility was improving. Stuart figured that we had a good chance of getting some good fish. He advised us to use a sinking line and heavy leader, which would work well with our "bunny leeches". Within 15 minutes Richard hooked and landed a 20-inch beautifully coloured Rainbow. The weather was sunny and warm and as we floated the cotton from the cottonwood trees fell like snow and covered the water. Stuart manoeuvred the boat to enable us to place our flies strategically near foam lines and currents where fish were likely to lie. We took a 22 ½ inch trout from one of those areas. My pin fish was a lively, colourful, 25-inch rainbow, which fought like the biggest steelhead I have ever taken. What a thrill to finally see this beauty and then to release him into the current. We caught three more of the "football" shaped trout, what an awesome day. As we returned to the lodge we saw a black bear and a fisher. John and Barb, who had spent the day fishing and exploring around Gotchen Lake really got enthused about their forthcoming trip to the Horsefly after we told them about the big ones.
On our last day while John and Barb fished the Horsefly, Richard and I walked the short trail from the end of Gotchen Lake to Kathleen Lake. A small boat is kept at the lake so we were able to navigate the lake and find some excellent fishing in some of the shaded areas. In the late afternoon as we returned to the lodge an otter family was playing and courting in the middle of the lake. They caught several Kokanee as they dove and surfaced.
At dinner Barb received her silver pin for her 22-inch trout. We learned that John had lost a huge trout. He also had landed several trout in the 20 - 23 inch range.
It was a privilege to spend a week with Stuart, his family and very friendly capable staff. The scenery is varied and beautiful and the wildlife is plentiful. Our accommodations were comfortable, meals were excellent and the hospitality the greatest. We thank each of the special people at Eureka Peak Lodge for making our Cariboo adventure and fishing trip very special.