At 17 years old with not a whole lot more than a Honda CRX and a float tube, I would spend as much of my calendar year lake fishing as I could. It was familiar to me, I had gained just enough knowledge to be somewhat confident in it and liked the idea of learning something new every trip out. If you are wise about your timing and lake choices, you can actually have pretty consistent stillwater fishing from ice off until the lakes freeze up again. Despite the inevitable “summer doldrum” that usually rolls through in late July or early August where things just get too hot, it is still possible to have good days on the water through most of the open water season.
March: This is, if we’re lucky, the start of the interior stillwater fishery. Some years nothing really happens, but other years we’re blessed with an early spring that brings fairly generous temps. The earliest I’ve stillwater fished was February 15th, but that was a very rare exception. Look for low elevation lakes that receive a lot of sunshine & a fair amount of wind if possible. Chances are you’ll be fishing the pre-turnover window anywhere that you’re able to fish in the month of march, so target the shallow water with micro leeches, bloodworms, immature damsels and if you’re lucky enough to hit an early hatch, chironomids.
April: April is when most of the low elevation lakes have turned over, and the moderate (less than 3,000 feet) elevation lakes start to ice off and come to life. Generally I won’t try to target the ice-off window on higher lakes, rather I’ll stick to the waters that I know are turned over and fishing well. There are exceptions to this, as some lakes offer solid ice-off chironomid fishing. April can bring some excellent chironomid hatches, so this is what I’ll focus on as much as I can if possible. If you’re looking at targeting the ice-off window then put your time in on the shallow flats as that’s where you’ll find most of your fish. Micro leeches, immature damsels, bloodworms, boatmen & chironomids are all patterns to have in your box.
Early Spring Stillwater Fishing
May: If you had to pick one month to fish our interior stillwater fishery, May would be it. Most lakes have iced off, turned & are swinging into the “prime” window of the year. Almost anywhere you visit in the month of May is sure to be in decent shape aside from very late ice-off years. Chironomid fishing in May is at it’s peak for a lot of lakes, a lot of big days are had if the weather cooperates. Aside from chironomids you’ll consistently find good mayfly & damsel fishing along with the ever-present staple foods like leeches, shrimp & bloodworms.
A common sight in May
June: June can sometimes be more consistent weather-wise than May. This is an excellent month for chironomids, mayflies, damsels, dragons and even caddisflies if the water temp warms enough. Being a chironomid fanatic, usually I will “follow the hatch” up in elevation meaning that once the low elevation lakes get much higher than 65 degrees I’ll start targeting lakes that are still in what I consider prime water temps and leave the warmer lakes to rest. Aside from chironomid fishing being great, another draw for a lot of anglers is the massive migration for damsels & dragonflies as they make their way to the shore structure and reed beds to shed their exoskeleton and begin their adult life.
July: July is when the chironomid fishing tends to slow down in most lakes, and I concentrate my efforts on one of the many rivers that offer amazing dry fly fishing in July. This being said some lakes can really shine in July, especially those over 3,000 feet in elevation. If you want to target big fish eating dries in 5 feet of water, July is the time to do it in the interior. Generally dragonfly nymphs fish very well in July, and some lakes can offer excellent fishing with chironomids and bloodworms.
Dawn patrol in early July
August: August can be a great month, low elevation lakes will experience summer doldrums and generally are best left alone for the safety of the fish due to high water temperatures. There’s a small number of lakes that actually experience incredible hatches of “bombers” (much larger chironomids than we are used to seeing in the springtime) and stay fairly consistent through the months of July & August. Fish will generally turn on what are referred to as “staple food sources” including bloodworms, shrimp & leeches.
September: The first frost of fall is usually a fairly relieving sign that another hot summer is coming to a close and fly fishermen get excited for things to pick up again. September can have some stellar chironomid fishing, some lakes actually seem to fish better in the fall than they do in the springtime. Waterboatmen, chironomids, backswimmers, leeches, shrimp and bloodworms are the most commonly used patterns in the month of September.
Fall in BC
October: October has a lot to offer in the interior of BC. There were years before this when stillwater was all I knew, and October was one of my favourite months of the year. Generally you will not see the same crowds that you do in the springtime, and some lakes can be absolutely magical at this time. Chironomids, bloodworms, waterboatmen, leeches & shrimp are all solid producers at this time.
November: Depending on the year, sometimes we are still able to stillwater fish into November. Cold? Yes, but for those that aren’t quite ready to throw in the towel can have some great days in November. Fish are generally fairly lethargic, but if you can manage some decent weather then you will find fish in the shallows feeding on shrimp, bloodworms and micro leeches.
Wintertime involves many hours of fly tying
Wintertime for me means fly tying, spey fishing for steelhead and travelling. Towards the month of February I start to get very anxious for the stillwater season to start up, and the cycle repeats itself. While there are peak times and more challenging times of the year, good fishing is to be found through the entire open water season. Thank you for taking the time to read, as always feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions. Until next time!