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A fisherman’s guide to the Cariboo’s Fishing Highway

Highway 24 is located east of 100 Mile House and known for its many great fishing lakes

By Doug Porter

Highway 24 has long been known as the “fishing highway” because of the numerous lakes that can be found to the north and south of this motorway. Opportunities for fishing abound!

This 97-kilometre-long road stretching from Highway 97 near 93 Mile House to Highway 5 in Little Fort, has only been in existence since its construction in 1974. Prior to that, there was a narrow, twisty road approximately three km west of Lemieux Creek near Little Fort that followed along Eakin Creek which connected Little Fort to Highway 24, near Phinetta Lake. The start of the highway is considered to be 93 Mile on Highway 97, since that particular piece of 24 eastward was in existence long before 1981 when the final improvements were made and it was all paved. For this Fishing Highway journey, I am going to start at the terminus at Little Fort and proceed westward.

Before leaving Little Fort, it is always worth a visit to the fly shop located there where knowledgeable staff has up-to-date fishing information and can also provide travellers with maps showing the numerous lakes to be found on the Nehalliston Plateau. While it is mainly a fly shop, I am sure they can be of assistance no matter what may be a person’s preferred method of fishing.

After leaving Little Fort, the Highway follows along Lemieux Creek before crossing it and climbing steadily before peaking at Macdonald Summit at 1311 meters. It then begins descending to what I will call the Cariboo Plateau.

Before reaching the Summit, just past the brake check station, lays Latremouille Lake to the south. It has had its recreation site improved in the last two years and is suitable for campers and trailers. It has a site host and is maintained as a pay site that opens in Mid-May and continues until mid-October. More information can be found at as well as other websites by doing a search for Latremouille Lake.

The other two pay sites in the area are Goose Lake, which has a large casting dock and Deer Lake farther north along the Taweel Main haul road. These three lakes are stocked regularly and contain rainbows up to two pounds. Of course, larger fish have been known to come out of them as well.

Laurel Lake lies just a few hundred meters to the east of Goose Lake and is accessed by an old road that is mostly suitable now for foot traffic. It is of interest here that Laurel is one of the few remaining lakes that contain the wild trout that were probably stocked with Kamloops Rainbow Trout from the Paul Lake Hatchery in the late 1920s to early 1930’s and beyond. It is documented that Taweel Lake had eggs from Kamloops Rainbow Trout from the Paul Lake hatchery deposited in the creek there by Gung Loy Jim in 1928. His descendants now own the store and gas bar at Little Fort.

It only follows then that a number of lakes in the Nehalliston Watershed were most likely stocked with progeny from Taweel Lake, mostly by resort owners in the subsequent years. Since many of these lakes had creeks where the fish could spawn, the trout populations in these lakes were self-sustaining.

A quick check of the stocking of other lakes on the plateau can be found at the site provided by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC at

The lakes in the Nehalliston watershed are unique in that they contain only Rainbow Trout that were stocked by either the Ministry, or are descendants of the trout carried in milk cans in the early part of the 20th century. Laurel Lake, like a few of the other lakes in the area still contains remnants of the original fish planted long ago. It has natural reproduction owing to a small creek that runs into and out of it.

Unfortunately, with no way to control the number of fish, the population can explode during good run-off years and the lake may contain plentiful numbers, but smaller fish. Lakes in the Nehalliston Plateau are known to fish well throughout the summer months due to their high elevation. I was told that most of the successful anglers here troll leech or Carey patterns in various colours, but black seems to be favoured by the fish here.

A Clearwater Angling Guide, Elia Ganderski has fished a number of lakes along Highway 24 and also suggests spoons like the Dick Nite, Hildebrandt in various colours, as well as plugs like the Flatfish in size F-4 and 5 in blacks and greens and Mack’s Imperial Spoon will work well in most lakes along the highway for both trout and kokanee.

Following along the Taweel Main north of Deer Lake approximately 500 meters will lead to a fork, with the right fork going to Rock Island Lake Fishing Camp to the east, and the left fork to Meadow Lake Fishing Camp to the northwest. Both of these camps have numerous lakes in the area that they maintain boats on. Some of the lakes are considered “trophy lakes” containing large rainbows up to 10 pounds or more. At the time of this writing, there is some uncertainty about Meadow Lake Fishing Camp being open in 2024. It must be noted that vehicles with travel trailers will have no place to turn around beyond Deer Lake.

Approximately 500 meters past MacDonald summit lays the entrance, on the south side of the road, to Long Island Lake (also known as Janice Lake), Recreation Site. The road down to the lake, which can be treacherous in wet weather, is rough and the boat launch is steep, with limited parking available.

This does, however, provide access to the canoe route that can be found in Emar Lakes Provincial Park, a wilderness area with no motorized vehicle access. More information on this canoe route can be found at › emar-lakes-park. The fish in Long Island Lake average 1 ½ to 2 ½ punds. As in the case of a lot of lakes in the area, larger ones have been taken from this lake. Again, casting or trolling flies will prove productive here.

Continuing west down the hill, approximately eight km past Long Island Lake Recreation Site on the highway, is the turnoff to Opax Mountain Resort and Birch Lake Fishing Camp. There is a fee to access Birch Lake. The unpaved road also doubles back easterly approximately 400 meters to access the Phinetta Lake recreation site off the Eakin Creek Road. At this point, the Nehalliston Plateau is left behind and a large majority of the lakes on what I will refer to as the Cariboo Plateau contain, for the most part, numerous species of fish in addition to rainbow trout. Phinetta Lake has rainbows that can reach one and a half pounds. Birch Lake on the other hand has rainbows that can exceed five pounds.

Travelling another four kilometres along Highway 24 will lead to Lac Des Roches and Eagle Island Resort. This lake contains rainbows that often exceed four pounds. The boundary between Region 3 and Region 5, as noted in the Freshwater Fishing Regulations Synopsis, runs on a south-to-north line approximately through the center of the lake.

Continuing along the highway will lead to a pull-off and view of Lac Des Roches to the south. After leaving the viewpoint, and going around the corner, a long straight stretch is found, and half ways along it is the public boat launch on the left, but no overnight camping. Just beyond the straight stretch is Lakeside Bed and Breakfast and at the west end of the lake is Lac Des Roches Resort.

Another five kilometres or so and Cotton Wood Bay Resort and Bridge Lake Provincial Park can be found on the north side of the road. Bridge Lake is a well-known destination for large kokanee to three pounds and rainbows to two pounds.

In addition to the campsite and Provincial Park there are a few public boat launches on the lake as well. A short distance past the park is the turn-off to Bridge Lake General store and another three and a half kilometers past it is Crystal Lake, which is annually stocked with rainbow trout. The recreation site there has recently been upgraded along with the boat launch.

Most rainbows here run to one and a half pounds, but of course, larger ones have been taken. Various anglers have their own preferred method of taking kokanee, but trolling spoons such as the ones mentioned earlier, small spinners such as the Wedding Band with corn or maggots, or small Spin N Glows, again with some type of bait trailed 12 to 18 inches behind will also take these tasty fish. Rainbows and lake trout usually require differing angling methods to take them successfully. Kokanee have soft mouths and it is not unusual to lose more of them than are landed.

Continuing along Highway 24 approximately nine and a half kilometres beyond Bridge Lake lies Roe Lake and just past that a turn to the south on Sheridan Lake Road East to access Piney Point Resort on Sheridan Lake. Travelling another four kilometers along Highway 24 will lead past Thomas Point Road where a public boat launch can be found, then to Magnussen Road and Sheridan Lake Resort.

Another two kilometers beyond can be found Texas Road and access to Loon Bay Resort at the west end of Sheridan Lake. All these resorts are busy during the spring and summer months as anglers vie to catch the large rainbows known to be found in this clear lake that contains numerous shoals. Anchored fly fishers do well during the spring and fall months there while trolling leech patterns or a variety of lures sold locally consistently take fish from this popular lake.

Just beyond Texas Road is the Interlakes, with a store, gas station, and other amenities. Just beyond the store is the junction with Highway 24 and Horse Lake Road. Taking the Horse Lake road will lead to Deka, Sulphurous, and Hathaway Lakes along the Manhood Lake Road which heads north off Horse Lake Road approximately four km beyond Interlakes.

Deka Lake is about five km up Mahood Lake road and has no resort but holds a good population of kokanee and rainbow trout as well as lake trout. Sulphurous Lake, a short distance beyond the turnoff to Deka Lake also has kokanee, rainbow, and lake trout as well as Sulphurous Lake Resort. Hathaway Lake, a short distance beyond Sulphurous Lake has two resorts; Hathaway Lake Resort and Moosehaven Resort and Campground. There is also a recreation site about three fourths of the way up on the west side of the lake. Kokanee, rainbows and lake trout can also be found in Hathaway Lake. Following the Mahood Lake Road will eventually get a traveller to Mahood Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park and Canim Lake to the west. The same fishing gear that works in Bridge Lake will also produce fish here as well.

Going back to the junction of Mahood Lake Road and Horse Lake Road, and continuing west along Horse Lake Road approximately 15 kilometers will bring visitors to Watson Road and Cariboo Bonanza Resort on Horse Lake. This is a popular resort with campsites and cabins situated along the lakeshore.

Horse Lake has numerous species of fish with anglers seeking the kokanee, rainbow and lake trout that live there. Again, targeting each specific species of fish requires different tackle, techniques, and strategies, similar to Bridge Lake. The store at this resort sells tackle specifically geared for fishing at Horse Lake

Back at Interlakes, continuing along Highway 24 approximately six km will be Fawn Lake Road which leads to Fawn Lake Resort about four kilometers from the highway. This lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout that can reach three to four pounds at maturity. Fawn Lake Road continues north and will eventually intersect with Horse Lake Road. The resort there stocks a variety of fly patterns that have proven successful over the years.

Going back to Highway 24 and continuing westward another 13 kilometers or so, Irish Lake can be found by turning south at the sign and going less than a kilometer to a day-use recreation site and public boat launch. Like Goose Lake, it has a fishing dock just beyond the boat launch on a well-maintained trail. While most trout average two pounds numerous larger fish have been taken here over the years in this relatively small lake. It is fairly shallow and requires an aerator to maintain oxygen levels during the winter months. It is very popular with fly fishers in the spring using chironomid and leech patterns. Trollers also take fish there using leech patterns.

Just before reaching the town of Lone Butte, beyond Irish Lake, is the turnoff on Watch Lake Road that leads to Watch Lake and Green Lake beyond. At Lone Butte, a junction across from the Fire Hall will lead back north to Horse Lake Road. At this junction is Lone Butte Sporting Goods with knowledgeable personnel that have up-to-date information on numerous lakes found not only along the highway corridor but also throughout the 100 Mile House area.

Continuing along Highway 24 for another nine kilometers or so beyond Lone Butte will lead to the junction of Highway 97 at 93 Mile House, and the end of the journey along the “Fishing Highway”.

It must be noted further that many, many more lakes and streams abound along this route, some with good access, while others may only be accessible with four wheel drive vehicles or provide hike-in opportunities. I encourage readers to do more research to explore this very unique part of the Cariboo and Thompson Nicola Regions, one never knows what terrific adventures await, and how large the fish may be that puts a bend in the rod.

Make sure to obtain the latest copy of the Freshwater Fishing Regulations Synopsis before venturing out on the waters. They can be found at tackle shops or resorts, or online at

This story and many more can be found in the publication, Gateway to Fishing Adventures in the Cariboo Chilcotin, available now at the Williams Lake Tribune, 100 Mile House Free Press and Quesnel Observer newspaper offices