When I moved to Kamloops, British Columbia in 1982, I was just a rookie at fly fishing but I had heard that this was the mecca of bc fly fishing for rainbow trout. I talked to my boss about lakes in the area and he has a couple of incredible stories of huge fish breaking his rod, stealing his line and causing him heartache. I thought, “I’d like that kind of heartache”. He was referring to Pass Lake. Back then it was considered a trophy lake of considerable stature. Access was a very poor 4×4 road, there were 2 launches – neither of which were much good.
Some things have changed over the years. You don’t need a 4×4 to get to Pass anymore. Since logging was opened up further to the north, the road has been upgraded and is somewhat maintained. There is only one boat launching area but it is better than it ever was. There is a substantial forestry campground with firepits and outhouses. The regulations have changed slightly to accommodate the increased pressure due to improved access. And there are Triploids. Oh baby!
This treasure of a lake is located about 25 kms north of Kamloops on the Lac du Bois road. The drive to and from Pass Lake is majestic in itself as you migrate and transition through about 4 geo-climatic zones. First, you wind your way up through the rugged desert hills of sagebrush and tumbleweed of Lac du Bois Provincial Park. Next are the productive grasslands of bunchgrass, juniper and home to grazing cattle and deer. As you approach Lac du Bois itself, the terrain becomes more parkland, rolling pastures dotted with shallow duck ponds, deciduous trees and dryland douglas fir. Finally you arrive into an interior forest of fir, pine, spruce and poplar. I must say that the view offered during the scenic drive home is a fine reward or consolation even on the least productive days of fishing.
Pass Lake has always been a moody lake. It rarely gives up a day when fish zero in on your fly all day long like it’s going to be their last meal. I have been skunked many a time. For the persistent fisherman, it does produce handsome rewards. It’s one of those lakes that has two types of fish. Little ones and big ones. The little ones will tease you while they are under 12″. Then they get hungry and are rarely seen until they are 20″ or bigger. There is always a reasonable expectation to catch a trophy sized fish and that’s what keeps me coming back.
I have found that late May, early June and Sept / Oct are the best times to hit Pass. It can be productive during the summer months but you may have to brave the dark in the late evening or pull your butt out of bed very early in the morning.
The lake is surrounded with productive marl shoals and dropoffs. The late May chironomid hatches can turn the fish into ravenous hunters amongst an aluminum hatch of small boats. I have seen times when 5 or 6 fisherman had fish on all at the same time in a 250 metre long stretch of shoal on the north side of the lake.
Perhaps the most prolific hatch at Pass Lake is that of the mayfly, starting in late May and culminating in mid-June. The key is to fish them with a floating line as they migrate toward the surface to emerge as adults. Another food staple that produces large fish is the leech. The lake has a healthy population of leeches and fishing this pattern throughout the season can be very productive.
As I said earlier, this lake is moody. It’s one of those lakes that you may not have a bite all day but you still feel that next time it will be your day. It’s part of the mystque and lure of Pass Lake.
Pass Lake was the first lake that I fished in the Kamloops area that I knew, one day, I would catch a big fish. It took 3 visits before I hooked a big one and now I have been forever smitten. The lure of trophy fish captures my soul and I make Pass Lake my destination of choice many times each season.