Travel 5km northeast of Port Renfrew on the active Harris Creek logging road and you’ll find three picture perfect hideaways. Havens of peace fondly remembered from my first visit back in ’69. The delightful Fairy Lake Recreation site is a quick getaway for locals and a popular RV friendly camp ground with beautiful sandy beach.
Its location, upstream from the mouth of the San Juan River, with shallow drop-off ideal for paddling, makes Fairy Lake a superb destination for summertime recreation. Swimmers, picknickers, mountain bikers and backpackers frequently visit its shores as well as canoeists. Freshwater fishermen journey there to spend their vacation hoping for that prized catch in its tranquil surroundings.
At the centre of the lake, is a half submerged log. Clinging precariously to life on the exposed end is a single dwarfed fir tree and many a swimmer has used this log as a natural diving board. For the keen fisherman, the lake provides good yields of Dolly Varden char, as well as sea-run and resident cutthroat trout, particularily in May to June and September to October. In the Fall, salmon put on quite a display leaping and splashing all around the lake, and a nearby fish hatchery for salmon breeding lies off a rough trail. Its main focus is on maintaining the Chinook Salmon population in the San Juan River. For boating enthusiasts, there is a roof-top boat launch in the park but, for safety, no motorized boats are permitted.
A little further along the Harris Creek logging road, is the equally beautiful Lizard Lake. Covering 22 acres, and filled with salamanders – hence its name – the Lake is a very popular summer destination for swimming and picnicking. It opens for camping from May to September. A unique 100-foot boardwalk dock was recently built for public swimming and fishing and a 1.5km nature trail loops around the lake. Winding through the surrounding forest of cedar and fir trees, the area features numerous hiking and mountain bike trails. Lizard Lake’s 50-foot maximum depth ensures rainbow trout are plentiful and the best yields are generally from April to June and October, with steelhead fishing on the nearby Gordon River a popular activity for sports fishermen in the area. Lizard lake has a sandy beach with a small wilderness campsite nearby, with drive-in and walk-in sites including picnic tables and fire pits. Like Fairy Lake, a roof-top boat launch is provided and for fishermen, BC fishing regulations apply.
The community of Lake Cowichan is a vibrant and growing community of around 3,000 people. Located twenty minutes drive east of Duncan, the beautiful Cowichan River flows through its town centre. Nearby communities are within easy reach by road and have access to scenic Cowichan Lake one of the largest fresh water lakes on Vancouver Island – 26 miles long. Known as ‘Kaatza’ (The Big Lake) it has excellent trout fishing and caters for water sports, camping, houseboating and swimming with a boat launch and marina also available.
The Cowichan River Provincial Park is an area stretching almost 20kms from the village of Lake Cowichan to Glenora, south of Duncan. This spectacular Provincial Park protects large stretches of the Cowichan River, known as a first class recreation corridor. The park is internationally recognized for its steelhead trout and wild salmon, as well as the historic Cowichan River footpath which winds through Douglas fir and Western Hemlock forest. Gordon Bay Provincial Park is one of the best boat launching spots for fishing in Cowichan Lake. It has dozens of parking places next to the ramps from which anglers pursue cutthroat, rainbow trout and dolly varden char. Spring is traditionally the best time for trout fishing, before the lake warms up.
There is no dispute that fishing is a fun – and sometimes productive – pastime. British Columbia has thousands of picturesque lakes, streams and tidal waters where literally anyone can fish. British Columbia sometimes plays host to ‘Family Fishing Weekends’, where residents of Canada can go fishing in most of the tens of thousands of lakes and non-tidal streams, with the compliments of the Provincial Government. What better incentive is there to venture into the great outdoors without the need to buy or carry a Freshwater Fishing Licence?