The weather had been extra warm over the past few
weeks and the word around the lakes of Kamloops was
"You should have been here two weeks ago."
Fishing was poor, to say the least. Ice off had been
early and the end of June might as well have been mid-August.
Some of the lakes were showing a surface temperature
of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) and the
fish were deep and lethargic. Our annual interior fly
fishing excursion was about to turn into a week at the
We had reserved a cabin at Roche Lake Lodge during
the last week of June hoping to hit the caddisfly hatch.
When we arrived, we were informed by a number of fishermen
both fly-fishers and gang-trollers that the fishing
was off. Even the gang-trollers trolling deep were only
picking up the odd trout.
Needless to say, we were not impressed. We tried not to
be discouraged and fished Roche Lake all that evening and
all the next morning, but between the five of us we managed
only two fish, although Bob's was a beauty of at least three
pounds. He had caught it on a leech, fished slow and deep.
"This is not the best fishing I've ever experienced." I said
sarcastically. I was getting the poor fishing blues. "Maybe
we should go to a different lake."
That sounds like a good idea," replied my brother-in-law
Doug. "Let's have a look at our maps."
We scanned our maps and looked for comments on nearby lakes
in Steve Raymond's book "Kamloops". The lakes around Roche
are numerous. John Frank Rose, Tulip, Black and Bleeker Lakes
were all within 15 minutes of us.
Earlier the same year, at the Sportsman's Show in Vancouver,
we had met a fellow from Roche Lake Lodge who had shown us
some photographs of five to six pound brook trout taken on
a leech pattern in Black Lake.
"How about trying Black Lake?" Doug asked.
I was not enthusiastic about the idea. I had come up here
to catch some Kamloops rainbows, not char.
"No, let's try Rose. It's small, so maybe it won't be too
deep and we can at least get our flies down to the fish."
Friends of ours had told us that Rose Lake was the only place
they had had any success at all.
"OK. Let's go!" was the reply. You can only keep a good fly-fisher
down for so long.
We fished Rose for the rest of the day, but it was slow as
well, giving up just three small trout.
That night we sat down and discussed our situation. The consensus
was that we should try to gain some elevation and find some
cooler water. Doug kept remembering the photos of the brook
trout and talked us into giving Black Lake a try in the morning
before moving to higher ground.
The next day dawned clear and sunny with little wind. We
threw the boats on the truck, we made our way to Black Lake
at about 11 am. Not expecting much, we hopped out to have
a look and were greeted by a sparkling gem of a lake about
a mile or so long, nestled in a small depression and surrounded
by immature pines. The water was turquoise green and crystal
clear and we could clearly see the marl bottom that jutted
out to drop off 40 feet from shore. . It was a beautiful first
I scanned the water's surface . . . no rises. Fisherman's
panic (that feeling where every second that you don’t have
your line in the water is another fish missed and gone forever)
soon overtook us and boats, gear, rods, vests, wives, and
kids all started flying in the ensuing rush. We were on the
water in minutes.
I rowed along the drop-off’s edge, following the near shoreline,
taking mental notes of the bottom vegetation, debris and sunken
logs. A downed pine tree had fallen into the lake and extended
about 30 feet out from shore just in front of us. As I maneuvered
around it, there came the all too familiar splash of a jumping
trout. I saw the ringlets where it had risen and I searched
the water's surface for insect activity . . . nothing.
I loaded the rods with fast sinking lines, tied a Werner's
Shrimp on my wife's rod and a D.D.D. (damselfly nymph) on
mine, and continued to row along the drop-off, trolling the
flies behind. We rounded a small shallow bay and had just
brought the flies past it when I saw a tug at the rod tip,
not the usual quick bend of a strike, but more like the slow
pull of bottom. I picked up the rod but nothing was there.
I stripped in the line but found no traces of bottom. Interesting.
I stopped a moment to ponder the situation. Warm water, slow
troll, slow fish, all the clues were there. I figured that
the fish had the opportunity to leisurely pick off their chosen
food and probably were too slow to be interested in the quicker
insect forms. Next time I'd be ready.
It's a good point to note that brook trout have hard mouths
and you must have a good sharp hook to be sure of setting
it properly. I remembered that too.
I turned the boat around, cast the lines back out, and started
to row back towards the little bay. We rounded it and didn't
get a touch. I swung around for another pass. This time the
same slow pull occurred on one of the rods but I was ready
and quickly picked up the rod and gave it a good tug. The
hook set and there he was!
Instantly the fish reacted, running, with my line in tow,
nearly to my backing . . . so much for the fish being lethargic.
I played it to the boat, but by the time I got it in, my arm
was tired. The fish wasn't all that big (15 inches ), but
it was just plain heavy.
Brook trout, which are actually char, are different
from rainbows; they are much deeper and wider. They also fight
differently, more like a brown, preferring to stay under the
water and slug it out rather than break the surface and try
to throw the hook. There is less chance of the fish shaking
free, but it makes for a longer fight and believe me, these
fish are strong for their size. They also tolerate higher
water temperatures and continue to feed when the Kamloops
trout have stopped, making them a definite alternative to
rainbows when the waters warm up.
We picked up two more brook trout that day,
all before 1 PM, and enjoyed ourselves so much that we stayed
and had moderate success over the next three days. We were
never skunked and the brook trout were still lively even though
the rainbows had gone off their feed. Black Lake had saved
what could have been a disastrous holiday.
Several of us returned the first week in September
and fished the lake again. The appearance of the fish and
their slow fight soon reminded me that brook trout spawn in
the fall, which is another good point to remember. We packed
up and fished little Rose Lake, which gave up some beautiful
shiny rainbows that fought for their lives. We kept four between
the four of us and released the rest to fight another day.
Black Lake is located south of Kamloops near
the Roche Lake Lodge. The turnoff to the lake is about half
a mile before the lodge, on the left as you drive in and now
has a nice sign marking the turnoff. It's only about a mile
into the lake, but the road is a bit rough and a vehicle with
some center clearance is needed in order to traverse the deep
potholes. It can get slick in a rain as well so go prepared.
The road leads right to the lakeshore where you can launch
a small boat.
There are three vehicle campsites, two tent
pads, and a toilet. If you stay overnight, ensure you pack
out your garbage and make sure that the campfire is out. It
would be a great shame to see this little lake ruined through
negligence on someone's part.
Black Lake contains all the standard insect
species that normally occur in the area. Scuds, dragonflies,
damselflies, mayflies, and the big traveler sedges are all
there. Dragonfly and scud patterns were the most productive
If you run into warm water fishing and the bite
is off, remember there is always a viable alternative in fishing
for brook trout and, if you're close enough, head for Black
Lake. It's a lovely place to spend a warm spring day just
the loons, the fish and you.
Bill Luscombe has been hunting and fishing for most of his
42 years. He has been flyfishing for 20 years. He instructs
flyfishing, and has done so for the past 12 years. He also
instructs the federal FSET firearms course and the BC CORE
hunter training course. He is an award-winning outdoor writer
and has been writing freelance since 1987. He has been published
in BC Sport Fishing Magazine, Outdoor Edge, BC Outdoors, Western
Sportsman, Island Fish Finder, and the BC Hunting Guide.
Bill Luscombe was born an army brat and raised in Ladner
(Delta, BC) where he was raised hunting waterfowl and pheasants.
He presently resides in North Cowichan on southern Vancouver
Island where he has lived and worked full time as a professional
forester since 1982.
He presently works in Nanaimo for the BC Forest Service and
continue to write the fly-fishing column for BC Sport Fishing
Magazine as well as contributing articles freelance to various
outdoor magazines in western Canada.
Bill Luscombe is also a BC Director of the Northwest Outdoor
Writers Association. "Catching fish is not hard. You simply
need to understand what makes them tick. If you think like
a fish, you will catch fish. It’s as simple as that."- Bill
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