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 ones in the area are abundant with wildlife, fantastic sights and fresh air to help forget the city. The Fishing Highway 24 Tourism 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 that Hwy 24, that they drive 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 what they think 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 $80 and modern cabins with fully equipped kitchens could be roughly $130.
Rainbow, lake and brook trout and other fish are typical catches while fishing in the area and some of them can be huge, reaching double digits.
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.
Other key lakes for fishing in the area are Deka, Bridge, Horse, Hathaway and Roe.
Various methods of fishing can be used on the lakes such as fly fishing, trolling and spin casting. Of course, during the colder months where the water freezes it’s time to bring the smaller rod out and drill a hole into the ice for some ice fishing.
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 outfitters 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 different. Some bring their huge vehicle and require 30 or 50 amps power, others bring their self contained unit and don’t want the luxury of a high-end end. 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.