Trip Report Fishing B.C. lakes without Brian Chan

Dave Boyle

Active Member
#1
I’m sorry LCnSac, totally puerile but I couldn’t resist. ‘Here be Dragons’ was to be the title but the impulsive inner child in me suddenly thought otherwise.


After years of vicariously living off other folk’s reports on WFF with varying degrees of envy (in all cases) my resolution for this yr. was to go out and fish some new places, have fun, maybe make some new friends and definitely learn something new. Work and helping raise a young family were my primary reasons/excuses for not doing so sooner but learning to delegate and trust my team and the kids getting older made these ‘worries’ really quite bs. So where to go? From this website, it’s plain that there’s quite a few folks who know what they’re doing and Jeremy Floyd’s Fall steelhead report was a blast to read and got me thinking when I saw ‘Dragon Bash’. Hmm….possibly? Huge trout, lots of them, a bit of a road trip, out in the wilds, seemingly good guy, why not? So to cut this story short, I planned a bit, tied a lot of chiro’s (see ‘what’s in your vise’) and then the stars aligned, last Monday I gassed up the car, and sped up to Quesnel. The drive was a blast and around 9 hrs. but beautiful scenery and I was going fishing. Remember too, the distance on Canadian road signs are in Km, I initially freaked when the Quesnel ‘mileage’ was 350 when I got to Kamloops. A big, big plus is Canadian drivers are very considerate and don’t hog the roadways and so I could go as fast I wished pretty much anytime without multiple dickheads blocking all lanes of the road doing a synchronized 60 mph, an issue anytime I head East (or N, W or S) in WA. Nothing must pass…and the mirror just blocks the view ahead. Spring in the mountains meant a good bit of snow on the way up when in the passes but added to my sense of adventure.

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En route, v.tight corner...

My first lesson in getting to Quesnel in late April/early May was the ‘Shutdown’. When you head north you quickly get an idea of the huge scale and value of logging to the economy and this is the 2 weeks of the yr. when the main plant shuts down for maintenance. Every engineer in BC, and beyond, heads there to get in on the 24 hr a day action. The outcome? Accommodation is hard to get, read impossible. The Gold Pan Inn had a reservation for me for 5 days. The day I arrived they told me I was fucked off as the room was staying open for the guy there already…for a night more. The only available place was in Hixton 40 miles North, I shit you not. The next day, I was then bumped for the week so I wouldn’t recommend staying at the Gold Pan, ever. A bunch of useless sods trying to keep their motel full at all costs. Each day and night thereafter I had a 40 mile drive each way, not what I was expecting but hey I was there and hairy-arsed enough not to let it kill my fun. My car on the first morning showed it’s still cold up there.


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Brrr……


Anyway, onto the fishing. Dragon Lake is beautiful and a bit big in a row/kick boat. The locals and regulars all use aluminum boats (and dual anchoring) with outboards and most, but not all are fixed on fishing the ‘hog line’ at the N end of the lake which is the hot spot for the classic chironomid fishing. BTW, Jeremy takes trout fishing watercraft to a new level in his bass boat, more on this later. There’s two public ramps, S and one on the East (?) but Legion Beach at the N end with a$5 box drop is best for the non-gas powered boat to easily reach the hog line and other good spots at the N end, my first thanks to JF’s local knowledge. This was by far the closest to the best areas for me to fish.

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And nice!

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The hog line.

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Here be fish.


My first day I headed to the hog line, “fish @ ~14 ft.” was Jeremy’s advice, on the way over the shallow water was clear and the bottom covered in elodea, this disappeared into deep. I fished 2 rods at the same depth ~1’ off the bottom, a black one and a purple, with spangle rib. It was a waiting game, eventually a bobber went down, I lifted, felt weight, pulled in a bit and a fish took off. The fish was a jumper and was all over the place. I was keen not to lose it and nursed it a bit. A classic, darker hued rainbow that turned out to be an oddity, all but two fish were very bright, silver fish with few spots. I couldn’t figure a killer fly but caught a few on anything I left down long enough. Most were prolific jumpers to add to the fun.


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My first.

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Another.

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It gets windy.

The lake is exposed in a valley and with the warmest weather of the yr., the wind really took off making fishing, even with 2 anchors, a pain in my Grizzly and I lost a few fish getting wrapped. A text from Jeremy said he’d launched. “Do you want to fish off my boat?” “Yell yeah!” So I quickly rowed back, packed my boat away and went out on Jeremy’s Ranger with a 150 HP outboard. 20 seconds later when trimmed and skimming at 60+ mph, my shit eating grin didn’t do the fun justice. We anchored over 7 ft and fished balanced leeches ~4ft under bobbers. We had a good time.

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What a boat!

Firstly, Jeremy can roll cast a lot of line with no effort, I stress a lot. We laughed about earlier WFF posts, I’ll say 92 ft., closer to 100, and backing was exposed. On a roll cast…pedantics…Fishing was slow, take downs were consistent but we both had trouble making them stick. The great part was that with slow fishing, we had to time to yak, and here we hit it off, same views, different views, life, sex, the universe, raising kids and the varied and correct use of the ‘C’ word…we laughed a lot and I really enjoyed his company. Jeremy got one and I SDR’d. Jeremy then took me home, cooked me a killer rib eye (Steve, too much, really?) and I met Liz, his lovely missus. I also saw his home kegger, every home should have one. It’s now on my Father’s day list


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No home should be without one, just don't let Jeremy fit it...

Next day I went out to the shallow bay Jeremy took me to the night before, opposite the hog line bay and was dragging a balance leech and fishing a bugger on my casting line. Caught a few nice fish but it was not fast and furious, I had about 5 fish for 3 hrs. fishing. Where were there monsters??? I headed back across to dunk chiro’s and as I reached Legion beach I had a huge hit. All the fish I’d caught to this point hit and were then pulled closer to the boat before they took off. This fish hit, went solid and left…in a hurry, 20 ft. of line spooled before the line went slack, shit. I caught more in the bay on mids but not the larger ones that Dragon that is famed for.


Next day, after breakfast at Granville’s in town (go there and nowhere else, it’s perfect) I hit the hog line area and had quite steady if not stellar fishing till 3 pm. My (in)adequacy gauge was the regulars/locals weren’t slaying me, and then the wind got up quite a bit, and then a lot. I got fed up in this and being soaked, plus losing fish on my anchor lines got old. Off by 6.30 and went to the Occidental for dinner, beer and a daft amount of fries and calamari, imagine a bucket load. I could never eat them all, until I did, I was starving. The next day was the same routine, in the bay by the hog line and got steady fishing, nice fish but Dragons…No. Then the wind got really up again and it was totally stupid, the locals left and I persisted. It was a pain. I lost more several fish on my anchor lines, in the weeds and even holding with 2 anchors it was a challenge with waves breaking over the side of my grizzly.

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Mmmmm beer.

Mr. Floyd to the rescue, yet again. “Sorry, I’ve been really busy but can manage an hr., can you meet me by the launch in 15 and fish?” Mmmm, “yes, and please have beer” (The only poor point re Canada apart from the Gold Pan in my view is highly restricted beer access). 15 min later, shit eating grin again at 60 mph into the wind, beer in hand, fly box in the water, saved and then fishing the protected south end of the lake in a very slight chop. Perfect for flipping balanced leeches. Jeremy’s boat is crazy, brilliant, perfect for 2 folks to fish off, our joke was we were both southpaws so not quite the ideal. Yes, we did cross cast (well he rolled and well fucked up my cast by at least 110’, should have used a forward taper). Carpeted floor, space, standing seat, full beer coolers, great company = great fishing experience.

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Fish on.

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Fish still on!

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Fish out ;-)


We were chatting and then, WTF is my bobber? I vaguely lifted and fish on. It didn’t pull in like my earlier fish but took right off in a hurry. My Danielson purred as it ripped away. I quietly crapped my pants, Jeremy laughed and told me to relax and not tighten too much to not break it off (he was a guide in past life and was super helpful and full of advice). It rolled, a very good fish…maybe. I eventually coaxed it in after some great runs and JF netted it. I had 2 yr. fish of ~22 odd inches. There’s also the 3 and 4 yrs. fish of 27 – 30 + inches, fuck me. I was very stoked nonetheless. The sun was dropping behind the trees and it was a great setting to close out the day after being blasted by the wind to be again blasted by hurtling to the launch at 60 odd mph. We bombed up the lake to the launch and, again, Jeremy and Liz treated me to a great shrimp fajita dinner at their home.

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Am.

Thursday was to be my last day, and I fished around the hog line. Again, no particular killer fly using chironomids (std black, olive, red, purple, chromies, snocones) but picked up nice (1 yr.) fish every so often until noon and then the wind picked up by 2 pm and then picked up some more, again. By 3 pm, Jeremy noted he was stuffed with work, I could try the lee of a near (read farish by fin/oar) island and I was on my own and was pissed to not really get to fully fish the lake. Most locals left and I fished on and still caught some but it wasn’t totally fun fishing, rather a grind of sorts. I made a quick call home with the wind howling in my phone “Honey, conditions are really, really tough for decent fishing, can I be home on Saturday….” –“Sure, enjoy yourself”, I love my wife, and didn’t think I could do more but I do now.


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Piglet


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Redside.

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Deposit.

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Pm. I hate this f’ing wind.

I drove to Dragon on Friday with the CBC weather forecasting noting “nice but with building winds then thunder storms to be expected”. I was bummed, another day blasted and now possibly electrocuted off the water…The lake was glass smooth and fished really well. It was crowded around the hog line but all were catching fish. It got darker and hail and then the wind picked up strongly, again. I hoped I thought I heard a timber truck backfire with a boom. Then the thunderheads came rolling up the valley in and it was time to get off the lake ASAP. The entire ‘fleet’ agreed and most went back to the ramps as a flotilla. I got to Legion beach and casually gassed with some cool gents (saw photos of a 24 lb. and 17 lb. fish that one of them had caught in CO! in a float tube!!!!). I then went off and bought some beer to kill time and when I came back the storm and crowds had all gone…


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Hail.

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15 min before “get off the lake”

Dragon Lake then became calm, pool table, mirror flat calm. Now there were 2 watercraft where there had been 15. Big bombers were coming off all over, fish were slashing, and my bobber soon went down and on lifting the fish stayed, shook its head and went off to the other end of the lake. This fish didn’t jump, just rapidly and steadily bored deep and away, I wound it back when it stopped and then off it went again, unstoppable. Awesome. I’d hooked my first fish on a ‘mid that was larger by Dragon standards. When netted, it was a 2 yr. fish of around 23”. Fishing started to be really good with hits being regular with lots of ~16” fish coming to my net. Another strike, this one again really took off, with a wind knot in my main line…(first ever on this line), it went out through the rings in a second; back to me, could I pull it back in through the rings and play it off the reel? Of course not, it was stuck, so no chance. I tried to hand line the while untangling with my mouth (the futile things we try J), it pulled, I released line, it rushed, I didn’t release fast enough, ‘ping’, gone. Shit. Luckily, the same thing happened soon after, I got another 2’ yr. fish and with an entire line was able to let it run and play it into the net.

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Long and lean

By this point, the slashing rises in a small lee by me had me wondering for what an emerger would do if tossed in there? I saw no one cast a dry the whole time I was on the lake. I love emerger fishing and had caught a load of nice fish already so why not cap it off with one or some on a dry? So I tried on a big brown emerger onto my 4 wt and cast out, gave a slight pull to straighten and fully sink my leader. SLASH! BAM! Fish on! This was a lot of fun as the fish immediately went nuts and was running, boring and leaping all over the place. I landed a good sized first yr. fish and spent the next 30 min paddling around casting to the reeds and working the emerger back. I managed another and then the switch was thrown, the bugs stopped, the fish went down and I decided to call it a day.

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Off the water…

I closed out the day with Jeremy and Liz for dinner and a couple of pints and then a good kip before the drive home.

In reflection, I’ll admit I’m frustrated I didn’t get a really big one like those the lake is famed for but I’m not complaining. The scenery, challenge, fun and meeting Jeremy and some of the other sports on the water easily makes up for that and of course this could be the first of many reports. If I can head 500 odd miles and catch fish, most times I'll do OK, The perverse in me liked that the fishing wasn’t really easy, the regulars moaned re the #s of small fish, I managed overall, caught a lot of good fish in pretty difficult conditions on an unfamiliar lake, made a new friend and in reality I know one day not too far away I’ll get my Dragon.


Thanks Jeremy.


Dave

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Respray or retire?
 
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Red Arch

Active Member
#3
Awesome report!

Hope you'll come back up above the 49th to dragon someday, I have never fished it myself (for several reasons, distance and not having a large boat are one).

I have had the pleasure of fishing out of a 14 foot lowe with three people, all of us right handed. Thankfully as the person on the bow I got a casting platform so to speak and had few issues. Did take the occasional fly in the head though...
 
#4
I had the pleasure of experiencing Jeremy and Liz's hospitality last June when I imposed on him due to a flood between PG and Dalton where they got 36" of rain in 24 hours. I had made plans to fish a certain river known for Bulls that was in the epicenter of the disaster. Having to detour and cancel that portion of my trip gave me an extra 2 days before reservations at a fishing camp in the Highway 24 region and no idea of where to go. I PM'd Jeremy and he quickly responded with an invitation for my Grandson and I to stay with him and when we arrived we were treated to a wonderful meal of rib-eye, mushrooms, taters and I forgot what else. This was despite his being sick. We had a nice talk and stayed over leaving the next morning with some great information for a future trip. He'd just acquired the new boat and it's the shiz for those bigger lakes.
Couldn't ask for a better ambassador to Central BC. I'm meeting him on the Skeena this fall and really looking forward to it.
Thanks for a great report.
 

Dave Boyle

Active Member
#9
Thanks all, yeah I dream of retiring but I've another 16+ yrs according to my advisor...it sucks I'll likely be worm food by then so plan to just max out my vacation times. Folks can/will fuck with your pension but not with your time, yet. For those of you, like me, lurking and reading these reports get off your arse and get fishing. There is absolutely nothing you'll regret, you make your luck or opportunities...I've two more 'ideas' for summer and Fall................

Dave
 

Richard E

Active Member
#13
Hi Richard, how are you? Re specifics, well that would be telling but a Daddy daughter trip in later summer, think mellow wadable/floatable river and endless 12" cutts that like hoppers.... Fall is top secret
Nice! Did a bit of a Daddy/Daughter trip last summer, catching some stripers...hope to set up a similar trip this summer.
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