Lifting your small boat from the top of the car, you look out over the small freshwater lake, the first of four in the chain called Nanaimo Lakes.
The guy at the tackle shop said the lakes, First, Second, Third and Fourth, are good for rainbow and cutthroat trout, and there’s a chance you may hook into a bull or kokanee trout. Told that pink flat fish are the hot lure of the day, you fix up your line, toss it over the back of the boat and slowly troll the lake.
Just inside a small bay on the north side of the lake, you feel a strike. The trout dives, reeling off line as it heads for deep water. The hook is firmly set, and after a brief but valiant struggle the rainbow is netted. Nearby, two fishermen yell their congratulations and inquire about what lure you’re using. Happy to oblige, you give away ‘your’ secret and head the boat for shore.
Two days later, having slowly fished your way up-island, you stand on a gravel flat in the Gold River, an hour-and-a-half west of Campbell River. This time it’s fly-fishing for the wily steelhead, the catch of all fly-fishermen’s dream. The summer sun is high overhead and the river teems with the seasonal run of wild steelhead.
There’s 18 kilometers of fishable water and hopeful fishermen line the banks. You fish off the flat for a couple hours, releasing, as required, every catch. Mid-afternoon finds you downstream in the lower canyon area.
The water is deep and slow moving except for Crazy Hole, where the river takes a hairpin turn. The steelhead are gathered in the deep pool and your luck continues. With the gloom of early evening, you pack up your gear, wander up the river and through the trail to your car.
By nightfall, you’ll be back in Campbell River and looking forward to sea-run cutthroat fishing off Rotary Beach.