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Check out these awesome fishing lakes around the Thompson-Okanagan

An Okanagan fisherman caught a salmon on Little Shuswap in fall 2019. The fish weighed in at 10.14lbs.
Image Credit: YOUTUBE / Backing Boys

It's fishing season, and B.C. has a lot of beautiful, fully stocked lakes to offer.

We've compiled suggestions from avid fishers and lake experts alike to make this list of popular fishing lakes around the Thompson-Okanagan, perhaps best-suited for weekend warriors. 

If you're looking to make a day trip, grab your rod and check these spots out.

Shuswap Lake

Screenshot from the Backing Boys Youtube video, where Sean lands a 12.9lbs salmon in Little Shuswap, September 2019.
Screenshot from the Backing Boys Youtube video, where Sean lands a 12.9lbs salmon in Little Shuswap, September 2019.
Image Credit: YOUTUBE / Backing Boys

Shuswap Lake Provincial Park is located in Scotch Creek, about an hour from Kamloops. Shuswap Lake is host to Rainbow Trout, Lake Trout, Bull Trout and Kokanee. Fishermen have also found Chinook Salmon in Little Shuswap Lake in late summer to early fall.

TRU ecologist Dr. Brian Heise explains that there are two different types of salmon, called the ocean type and the stream type.

While the ocean type will head to the ocean in the spring, the stream type will stick around for up to two years in the Shuswap's lakes and freshwater streams.

The Okanagan based fishing group, the Backing Boys, caught a total 50 pounds of salmon in Little Shuswap last fall. 

Kalamalka Lake

Kalamalka Lake borders Highway 97 about 15 minutes from Vernon and 45 minutes from Kelowna.

Most commonly known for its colour-changing waters, Kalamalka is also a great fishing lake. Local fishing charters have reported trophy sized Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout up to 12 pounds and good numbers of Kokanee. 

Dragon Lake

Dragon Lake is in Quesnel, about four hours drive from Kamloops.

While this lake is commonly known for its abundance of invasive goldfish, it is also an ideal breeding habitat for Blackwater Trout, a strain of Rainbow Trout. These fish are widely sought after for their size.

"That particular strain of trout is one that grows quite large," Heise said. "That's because it feeds on smaller fish."

While in Dragon Lake, if you happen to catch a goldfish, don't release it back into the lake. Whether they are good eating is debatable, as they can be quite bony.

READ MORE: iN PHOTOS: Goldfish are rapidly taking over this B.C. lake

Regardless, removing as many of the invasive goldfish from the lake is ideal, because it makes more food available for the trout population. 

Mabel Lake

Mabel Lake is just over an hour from Vernon, and two and a half hours from Kamloops. 

You can find Rainbow Trout, Lake Trout and Bull Trout as well as Chinook Salmon in late July to mid-September, Heise said.

Local fishing charters have reported average size for the salmon from 15 to 25 pounds, with some as large as 40 pounds.

Kootenay Lake

Kootenay Lake is about a six hour drive from Kelowna, and home to Gerrard Trout, Bull Rainbow Trout, and Kokanee. 

Gerrard and Bull Trout are sought after by fishermen because they, like the Blackwater Trout, eat smaller fish to survive and consequently grow quite large.

They are at the top of the food chain in Kootenay Lake, Heise said, and will sometimes even eat the smaller Kokanee. 


Skaha Lake is in Penticton, and just under two hours from Vernon. It's home to Rainbow Trout, Kokanee Salmon and Smallmouth Bass.

Don't be deceived by this small lake—as a local fisherman discovered in 2019, there are some big fish in there.

Sean of the Backing Boys caught a whopping 18-pound, 33-inch-long Rainbow Trout last fall and after documenting his catch, returned it to the lake.

READ MORE: Fishermen catch huge rainbow trout where they didn't expect it

Correction: This article initially said Skaha Lake was outside of Penticton when it is in Penticton.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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