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Gone Fishing

Everyone should believe in something; I believe I’ll go fishing.” (H.D. Thoreau)

Our particular part of the Okanagan Valley affords myriad opportunities for recreation. One of the most pleasant, enjoyable and affordable, enjoyed by residents and visitors alike, is fishing.

We live in Lake Country. Our community encompasses Wood Lake and enjoys substantial exposure to both Okanagan Lake and Lake Kalamalka. Recreationally these lakes may be best known for swimming and boating in summer but are also enjoyed year round by thousands of fishers. Since the origins of life in this valley fishing has been an important element, initially to provide food to indigenous peoples and now as a vibrant sport fishery.

As a real bonus, a short drive up our eastern slope opens up a spectacular chain of mountain lakes in wilderness settings. Best known are Beaver Lake, the Dee Lake chain and Oyama Lake…all having excellent access as well as charming rental accommodation and boat rentals. Many local residents have yet to visit this beautiful area all easily reached by most passenger vehicles.

Fishing is relaxing and fun, doesn’t require perfect weather and importantly isn’t hard on the wallet. Some basic gear, a boat that floats and a license will get you started. One of the perquisites of being a senior is the minimal $7 angler’s permit!!

Now in my own experience going fishing doesn’t always mean catching fish. Yes…there are some very large trout in Okanagan Lake, improving numbers of kokanee in Wood and Kal lakes, and plentiful fish stock in the upper lakes, but I’ve never quite mastered the when, where and how for catching the big one. Hank Groen will tell me that the “bite is on” at Beaver but by the time I get there they’ve lost their appetite.

When I think about fishing I remember back to being a kid. A favourite fishing spot was the “Intake”, the small dam in the creek that flows down from Beaver Lake. It was only a mile or so up the hill and another half mile of bumping along and fording the creek. The fish were small but catching them with a worm and hook attached to a piece of willow branch whittled on the spot by my dad, is fishing at its most basic. The best part was Mom’s picnic lunch.

For serious fishing we’d head for Turtle Bay and rent a boat. It was probably about fifty cents an hour but twice as much if you wanted a clinker built with a little inboard Briggs & Stratton. We rowed.

Once we’d acquired our 2-horse Elgin we could go anywhere and often fished our way up Beaver Lake to the portage. We’d carry our gear across to the Dee Lake chain and could fish those lakes in the boats left there for that purpose.

Over the years little has changed as to the where and how of fishing local waters. It’s still the perfect way to spend some quality time with a spouse or buddy, or best of all your kids. Try it, you too may get hooked.

Written by Richard Gibbons, Director of the Lake Country Heritage & Cultural Society.

Wood Lake fishery
The Fishers gather on Pelmewash Parkway by Wood Lake — a sure sign of spring!
Fishing on Wood Lake
Preparing their gear for a day of fishing on Wood Lake.
Fishing on Wood Lake
Baiting the hooks while out on Wood Lake.
Wood Lake
Fishing the Okanagan’s Wood Lake on a beautiful spring day.Fishers on Pelmewash Parkway

Source: Photographs by Duane Thomson; Article by Richard Gibbons

Fishers gather on Pelmewash Parkway



  • I remember well the good fishing in Wood Lake when the Larsen family first arrived in 1950. My dad and mom, Axel and Florence Larsen, bought The Spot from the Motherwells and, over ten years, built the motel into a well-loved summer vacation destination for many families from the Vancouver and Calgary area. My dad enjoyed fishing in the spring especially (when the kokanee weren’t as deep as they were in the hot summer). I remember a catch of 5-6 beautiful kokanee, with the biggest being in the 3.5-4 pound range. Good eating? You bet.
    Two families from Vancouver, Washington, came for the fly fishing in Beaver and Oyama Lakes. Vern Weinus (sp?) was one of them and I remember going with him and his fishing partner up to one of the mountain lakes (not nearly as accessible as they are now). The fishing was wonderful–and sharing the day with a couple of tried-and-true fisherman who had plenty of fish stories to tell was pretty wonderful for the 7 or 8 year old kid that I was at the time.
    I also remember Don Christian and i going trolling on Wood Lake. One of us would row and the other would read a book out loud. I don’t recall whether we caught many fish, but the days were golden: water, sunshine, and good friends out fishing!

    • Great memories, Fred; thanks so much for sharing them with us.

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