It’s not easy nailing down the best fly fishing lakes on Vancouver Island. Pretty much regardless of where you go, you’re more than likely to find good fishing. Vancouver Island, after all, sports some of the best freshwater and saltwater fishing in BC, let alone the world.
Because of how many quality fishing spots are on the island, or even how many lakes there are in the first place, everyone’s top spots are going to end up different. So use this list as more of a rough guide than anything else. These spots are reputable as some of the best fly fishing lakes on Vancouver Island, but they are in no way the be-all-to-end-all. One of our favourite things about fly fishing is the discovery, that chance the spot you come across randomly may be your Holy Grail.
For many, fly fishing tends more to be about the experience than the number of fish caught. So this list isn’t numbered, there’s no way to rank one lake over the other. While one may land you more fish, or larger fish, another may be more beautiful, or more tranquil. There’s no real way to know how you’ll feel until you get out there. So, in no particular order, here’s our top 10 list:
The Top 10 Fly Fishing Lakes on Vancouver Island
Located 5 km south of Courtenay, Maple Lake may be small, but it’s a great fishing spot. This shallow lake is a favourite among locals, new and experienced anglers alike. Whether trolling streamers, casting dry flies or fishing with chironomids, fly fishing is very successful here. Maple Lake is easy to get to, with road access and a cartop boat launch, electric boat motors only. October through April are this lake’s best months, but you can easily fish it year round.
Located 30 minutes from Victoria, right outside of Shawnigan Lake, Spectacle Lake is home to a variety of fish including eastern brook, rainbow, and cutthroat trout, smallmouth bass, and the only eastern brook char on Vancouver Island. Not only does this lake provide spots for great fly fishing, but there’s also an easy trail around the lake, picnic area, campgrounds, and cartop boat launch, making this a great family-friendly spot.
Located 16 km west of Qualicum Beach, Spider Lake is well known as one of Vancouver Island’s best fly fishing spots. With many inlets, or “legs”, winding around many small islands, this lake provides many different deep and shallow spots for fishing. Rainbow trout, steelhead, and smallmouth bass are found here. Spring fishing is best when fly fishing for trout. You can easily access Spider Lake from the road, with a parking lot and boat launch for small craft.
St. Mary Lake
Located on the northern end of Saltspring Island, St. Mary Lake is not only one of the best bass fishing spots in British Columbia, but also holds some of the most aggressive rainbow trout. With the trout so ready to bite, some of Vancouver Island’s best fly fishing can be found here. Trolling a fly will be your best bet, as shore fishing isn’t very abundant. St. Mary Lake is a popular resort destination, and you can easily turn your visit into a vacation.
Located 3 km north of Gold River, Antler Lake is a popular lake that supports an abundance of both cutthroat and rainbow trout. Casting or trolling flies are both reliable forms of fly fishing on this lake, and fishing from a canoe is very popular.
Located 30 minutes west of Campbell River, Beavertail Lake is a popular fishing spot with a variety of fish in its waters. Cutthroat, Dolly Varden, and kokanee are all present, and the lake is stocked with rainbow trout. The lake is productive all year round, particularly in the spring and fall. Fly fishing is particularly successful in the lake’ west end.
Located directly off of the town of Cowichan Lake, west of Duncan, Lake Cowichan is one of Vancouver Island’s prized fishing spots. It’s also one of the island’s largest lakes, and where Cowichan River starts, another one of the island’s prized fishing spots. All forms of fishing are successful on Cowichan Lake, and access is easy for most parts of it. Rainbow and cutthroat trout are fishable all year round.
Located an hour west of Port Alberni, Nahmint Lake is thriving fishing spot holding rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and steelheads. Fishing is particularly successful in the summer, and the lake’s large size provides numerous spots to cast a fly. The quality of the access road can be inconsistent, and a vehicle with adequate clearance may be necessary.
Located right in between Duncan and Ladysmith on the Island Highway, Fuller Lake is the rare combination of picturesque, easily accessible, and semi-urban without sacrificing any of the fishing quality. Fly fishing is very successful, and the accessibility of the lake makes for a perfect spot to take kids fishing.
Located north of Sooke, in the Juan de Fuca, Crabapple Lake is, despite its secluded location, popular among anglers for its thriving cutthroat and rainbow populations. The fisherman seeking a quiet fishing trip off the beaten trail will find Crabapple Lake more than providing in both isolation and fishing. A 20 km hike is required to get to the lake, and directions can be found here.
Are there any spots you think deserve to be on this list that we missed? If so, please let us know by leaving a comment below!