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A Glimpse of Kamloops Rainbows

By Bill Luscombe, 🕔Mon, Mar 21st, 2011


For many years now I have been visiting and fishing the waters of Glimpse Lake on the Douglas Lake Ranch south of Kamloops. I was first introduced to this fine lake by my brother, who had fished it in the spring of 1982 and related the tale of a lake he had discovered where the fish kept rising to some unknown insect hatch. A bit of verbal investigation revealed that the insects had been a hatch of traveller sedges. I marked the lake on my map of places to visit and made a mental note to schedule some time for it the following spring.

When I finally fished Glimpse, I discovered a highly productive lake with easy access, plenty of camping area, and Kamloops rainbows averaging one to three pounds. I had good success that trip, and have never been skunked there (one of the few places where I can make such a claim). As a matter of fact, the best day I have ever had fishing was on this lake.

Four of us had arrived at Glimpse the last week of June and had settled in nicely to the Forest Service campsite on the south shore of the lake. By noon the wind had picked up slightly and, although it had produced a pretty good ripple on the water, it was not too difficult to cast if you went with it. Over the next half hour or so, I started to notice the odd splashy rise, although the waves made it hard to see them. I switched flies to a #10 olive deer hair caddis and cast it out towards the last rise. The surface wave action caused the fly to skitter and duck under the water in a very erratic manner. "Just like the natural." I thought. As it turned out the fish thought so too. I hadn't retrieved the fly 10 feet when a nice rainbow snapped it up it with unexpected ferocity. She took off in the opposite direction, line in tow, repeatedly jumping high out of the water as these rainbows tend to do. After a few minutes tussle, I netted her, removed the hook and set her free. I repeated this procedure over and over that afternoon, and in the hour and a half I fished the rise, I hooked and released at least twenty rainbows, all more than 14 inches long (about a pound or so), deep, and as silver as a newly minted ingot. I had never had such luck before and haven't since, but that afternoon will live in my memory forever.

As you can well imagine, that experience got me hooked on Glimpse Lake and although I have never had success like that since I have certainly had exceptional fishing there, and I have taken rainbows in excess of three pounds on almost every visit.

There used to be a lodge at the northeast end of the lake. It was old, but it served its purpose admirably. Around 1985 it was purchased by European interests and although it was supposed to reopened two years later, apparently some legal roadblocks were encountered by the new owners and the lodge has remained closed ever since.

The closing of the lodge has lessened the pressure on the lake, but the fishing has always been pretty good, thus I haven't noticed any appreciable increase in the size of the trout or the success rate of the anglers.

The northwest shore of the lake has been subdivided, and cabins and summer homes have sprung up all along it. It's too bad really; it detracts from the beauty of this lake. I don't know what sort of sewage system they are on but I fear the worst for the future of this place. The area where the homes have been built is on a heavy slope leading down to the water and you can imagine where any accidental seepage will end up. Hopefully the powers that be will keep a close watch on things and help to avoid excess pollution in the lake.

Glimpse Lake has three campsites that occupy its shores: one on the southwest side that you encounter as you arrive at the lake coming north from Merritt, another at the western tip, and the third about half way down the northern shore as you head east. Each campsite is easily accessible by car, although the southwest site can give low-slung vehicles some problems. Each of the campsites has multiple units with picnic tables and outhouses. The northern and southern sites have easy boat launching areas, but the western site can cause major problems for boats in the summer due to the shallow water.

A point to note: there is an old black bear that hangs around the campsites, especially the southern site, and he loves to invade your groceries. Don't leave anything out unguarded, especially at night. I have encountered him four times in the last eight visits and he will usually just nose around and then leave if there is nothing for him to munch on. Whatever you do don't feed him; you'll just compound the problem.

The lake itself is very productive. There are profuse drop-offs and shallow weedbeds which are amply populated with the various freshwater insects that make up the trout's diet. This lake even has a respectable hatch of speckled mayflies (Callibaetis); a bonus for us fly-fishermen. The big attraction to this lake though is the profuse hatch of big traveller sedges. The lake has an electric motor only restriction on it and I have no doubt that this regulation has helped maintain these insect hatches. The absence of oil from outboard motors (which forms a film on the surface) allows the insect pupa to breath when they reach the surface to hatch. This, in turn, allows the insects to complete their life cycle and thus provide an abundant amount of food for the trout.

The best times to fish Glimpse are from ice off in early May through mid July, and then from late September through to ice up in late October - early November. If you want to hit the sedge hatch plan to be there around the last week of June.

The best fly patterns to use are a black leech such as the woolly bugger, Raymond's Golden Shrimp, an olive damselfly nymph, and the pupal and adult stages of the big olive traveller sedges (caddisflies). The trollers usually use a small willow leaf and the spin-casters should try a black and yellow Panther Martin.

Access to Glimpse Lake is easiest from Quilchena. You turn off the old Merritt to Kamloops highway (highway 5A) at the Douglas Lake Ranch road and follow the signs to the lake; about a half hour from the highway. The other way in is from Kamloops, where you turn off the highway at the access road into Peter Hope Lodge. Drive past the lodge staying to the east of Peter Hope Lake and follow the main logging road over the hump and down to Glimpse. This is more difficult than it sounds; there are many turnoffs that can fool you. A good map that indicates campsites and access roads can be obtained from the B.C. Forest Service office in Merritt and I highly recommend that you pick one up before attempting the trip.

Even though civilization is slowly encroaching upon Glimpse Lake I will continue to visit it annually for as long as I can. So long as the lake produces fish and the loons sing me to sleep at the end of the day's fishing I will fish its waters and ponder man's priorities of progress over conservation. The cabins don't bother me yet; they seem as much a part of the scene as the cattle or the old lodge. I hope that the political powers see fit to restrict further development in the area. There is enough fish and land for everyone now and it can remain so with a little forethought. It will be a sad day when I decide to no longer visit this, one of my favourite lakes, because I can no longer enjoy a bit of peace and quiet with a decent chance of fishing success to add to the day. For now though, the loons call and the fish await...tally ho!

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."


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