There’s and endless amount of trout fishing opportunities available in Southern British Columbia this spring, but it might be a stretch to find a lake more productive than Hicks Lake in Sasquatch Provincial Park. Roughly two hours from Vancouver, the lake was stocked last week with 1,500 catchable size rainbows by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC and it’s fishing well. It’s a beautiful mountain lake that’s easy to reach and ideal for a family fishing trip or a day trip with buddies.
Team Pautzke crossed the border this week and spent a few days on the water filming a new episode of Fishing with Rod and Pautzke Outdoors. We only fished the evening bite, but hooked at least 50 fish each outing. While anglers won’t find any large trout, plenty of feisty, pan size fish are available. Catching a four-fish limit for dinner shouldn’t be a problem if you’re in the right area.
It’s common to catch a mix bag. While it’s been a few years since the lake was planted with cutthroat, the species continues to thrive and reproduce. You’ll catch cutts from seven to 14 inches, depending on which year class is around. There’s so many pan size trout you’ll have to weed through the smaller ones to catch the 12-14 inch fish, but they are present. When it comes to rainbows, expect a mix of fresh 9-10 inch planters and 12-14 inch holdovers. The holdovers have established wild characteristics, including vibrant colors, full tails and fins, and scales that don’t fall off when touched.
We fished exclusively with dough bait, worms and salmon eggs. The first day we put more effort into floating Pautzke FireBait off the bottom and caught a few fish quickly. Meanwhile, we noticed trout were higher in the water column and weren’t grabbing baits off the bottom and switched to drifting salmon eggs. This could be for a few reasons; there’s no thermocline yet, so trout are scattered throughout the system and also due to low clouds and rain. If it was sunny the trout are likely to be found deeper. Keep Fire Bait handy if the sun is bright. We caught them on Feed Pellet Brown, Chartreuse Garlic and Garlic Salmon Egg. We didn’t see the sun in the three evenings on the water.
The salmon egg bite was insane. Most of the time our bobbers went down within a few seconds of hitting the water. Fishing with Rod spent most of the first night going through a full jar of Premium (red lid) salmon eggs, whereas last night we picked through full jars of Gold Label, Orange Deluxe and Yellow Jackets. It didn’t matter what color we used. The trout ate them. In fact, we offered cocktails, too by placing a Premium, Yellow Jacket and Orange Deluxe on the hook, and caught tons of trout.
Meanwhile, we offered them combos, too, teaming up a Smitty’s Dew Worm with a Gold Label. Ironically, when it was just a piece of the worm they wouldn’t hit it. When the worm and the glittered egg (Gold Label) were on it they wouldn’t leave it alone. All of our eggs (and combos) were fished with a leader line of 4-pound Maxima and under a bobber. Keep in mind salmon eggs don’t float. A bobber keeps them suspended and in the strike zone. You’ll have to use a bobber to fish eggs this time of year.
I was surprised at how large of hooks we used. Normally, when using salmon eggs we use small size 8, 10 and 12 single salmon egg hooks. Our local friends didn’t even have any hooks this small in their tackle boxes, rather large almost worm hooks. On a positive note, these larger than average hooks made it so the fish didn’t swallow them, which enabled us to release more than 100 trout during our visits.
Locating the trout won’t be a chore. Throughout the day we saw trout surfacing and jumping everywhere on the lake. If you’re shore fishing there’s plenty of rocks to fish from near the launch ramp and Hicks Lake Campground. Meanwhile, with a boat you’ll gain access to the backside of the lake where deeper water is found, in addition to larger trout.
Editor’s Note: For more info on trout stocking in BC please visit http://www.gofishbc.com. All Pautzke salmon eggs are available at Canadian Tire, local dealers and Wholesale Sports