All the lakes listed here are within 2 hours of Sayward, most of them have rec sites and boat ramps, all are great places to camp, fish, hike and just get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Alice lake is a very pretty lake located on the north end of Vancouver Island. It is one of a series of awesome lakes just off the Port Alice highway, which runs down the west side of the lake.
The lake offers up some pretty awesome camping opportunities and if you kayak or canoe the lake, the possibility of camping in a variety of incredible spots is there. There are many bays to explore here. Quite often you will see wildlife along the shores so keep your camera ready.
The Regional District has built a campground on the Lake, and it’s by far, the prettiest campground on the island, for camping at its finest, you must come and visit this Lake. This is a very popular campground and can get pretty busy in the summer but there are many other great campgrounds within a short drive from here, so you should be able to find a spot at one of them.
Alice Lake is one of the prettiest lakes in the Pacific Northwest. There is plenty of wildlife here and you will have a good chance of seeing elk, deer, bears, possibly a wolf or cougar and a huge variety of birds. So don’t forget to bring your camera so you can take home some memories.
To get to Anutz Lake you head up the inland island highway from Woss until you come to the Zeballos turn off. From there, you head down the Zeballos road until you come to the river main road. Turn here and drive until you reach the Anutz lake recreational site turn off. I would recommend that you use a truck as this road can get rough.
Anutz lake is stocked with cutthroat and has a population of wild rainbow and dolly varden trout. The recreational site has camping sites and a boat launch. The lake is deep enough to troll and offers some decent rainbow trout. Fly fishing in the shallows from a kayak, just at dusk, will provide some incredible cutthroat and rainbow trout fishing opportunities. Not to mention the views you will get from your kayak.
The lake flows into Nimpkish lake and there is some good fishing in the river that separates them. The lake is a very nice lake to camp on and the scenery around this area is simply glorious to see. So if you want to have a great camping trip, this is one of the lakes that will deliver this.
Wolfe, Atluck and Anutz lakes all drain into the larger Nimpkish lake. Roselle and bonanza Lakes are also located nearby. All of these lakes have great campgrounds, boat launches and are stocked with fish. Anyone one of them will provide an adventure of a lifetime.
You have a great chance of seeing black bears, elk, deer, birds and other small animals like beavers and otters at this lake. I love birding here, some of the more rarer birds on the site were photographed in this area.
Atluck lake is a lovely lake that is fair in size, quite deep and loaded with stocked rainbow and dolly varden trout. Some of them can run to 2 kg in weight but most are an average of 30 to 40 cm. Atluck lake is quite pretty with great views, the fishing is awesome and there is lots of space for camping. Did I mention the views? The views will just take your breath away.
This is one of those great lakes of Vancouver Island, A real jewel of a lake. A lake surrounded by snow-covered mountains nestled in a narrow valley that is filled with wildlife. The birdlife is incredible, don’t forget to bring your camera. There is a real good chance you will see black bears, Roosevelt elk, blacktail deer or any number of smaller creatures like raccoons, otters or pine martins.
Atluck lake has a great recreation site and a boat launch. There is good camping available. There are 2 campgrounds that have a boat launch with camping. Both sites are awesome and are right on the lake. Camping here is pretty good, you will enjoy yourself.
As this lake is in a very narrow valley. The wind has a habit of coming up fast and blowing hard, which can give the lake some fairly choppy waves. Take caution when out in a boat, wear your safety gear. I have seen 3 to 4-foot waves form on this lake, and it sometimes can happen in a flash. Not so great for fishing but really good for windsurfing.
To reach atluck lake, take the Zeballos road to 9 km at mukwilla lake. Turn right and travel down the atluck main until you hit atluck Lake. Have fun.
Benson Lake is a small but very deep coastal mountain lake situated in the coastal western hemlock zone on the northern end of Vancouver Island. From August 1962 through January 1973, the Benson Lake Coast Copper Mine, operated by Cominco Ltd. disposed of its mine tailings by depositing them, under permit, into the deep basin of the lake. As a result, the lake was occasionally subjected to extended periods of increased lake turbidity levels. Furthermore, the tailings smothered the lake’s sediments and this destroyed all traces of invertebrate life.
These increased turbidities were also found in the Lower Benson River. This also resulted in elevated levels of zinc in the water and in the flesh of fish taken from the lake.
In 1973, Cominco Ltd. ceased operations and all dumping of tailings in the lake ceased. Testing of the lake, conducted 10 months later, found that tailings material in the lake’s waters had settled down and that Benson Lake’s clarity had returned to normal conditions. Also, the increased levels of zinc in the lake’s water had subsided. However, it was noted that the bottom of the lake still was devoid of any invertebrate life.
In September 1990, more than 17 years after the mine closed, it was found that Benson Lake now showed little evidence of the fact that it was the recipient of mine waste.
The fishing in the lake is now good to great and the fish show no signs of increased levels of pollution in their flesh, but there is still an increase in levels of zinc in their livers. Personally, l would only catch and release the fish in this lake. The camping on the lake is great and there is plenty of wildlife here to keep your camera clicking.
Brewster lake is one of the biggest lakes on the Sayward valley canoe route. This lake has numerous well-maintained campsites and boat launches for your use, plus many more campsites that are not maintained but are great for more private camping.
Back in the 50s, there was a huge logging camp at the lake, hundreds of people lived here, they had a marriage quarters with beautiful little houses that had flower gardens and vegetable gardens, a lot of the people I grew up with were originally from here. The little houses from the camp were moved into town and most of the homes in Campbellton are these houses, there were many. The camp now is almost completely gone and not much is left to see.
The lake itself is great for fishing and I have caught some pretty big fish here. The lake has stocked rainbow and cut-throat trout that can reach 3 to 3.5 kg in weight. The best way to fish this lake is by trolling but I have just as good luck fishing from the shore or off the bridge that goes over the narrows at the west end.
Brewster lake is part of the watershed that feeds the john hart power station. To ensure that enough water flows all year, a diversion has been installed on the salmon river and a man-made channel has been built to deliver this water to Brewster lake.
When the water is low in the fall and you can gain access to this flow, just above Brewster lake the diversion runs through a peat bog and even though the stream may only be 10 feet across, it is a good 50 feet deep and holds some great big fish.
You fish this area just above the lake, right above the waterfall.
Blackwater lake is long, narrow and somewhat winding, with a range of shoreline features including reed and sedge filled bays, rocky points, and an interesting estuary at the south end of the lake where the water from amour lake flows in via a short creek. Just about every time we visit Blackwater Lake, we see river otters playing along the shore. Watching these comical little creatures sliding along on their bellies as their friends all try to slide with each other is just awesome, or at a few spots that have clay banks, these whimsical little ones have created slides and will take turns sliding down into the lake with a splash.
Blackwater lake is a great little lake for fishing. I personally like to fish where the creek that comes from amour lake flows in. I have never been skunked at blackwater lake and have fished there for 40 years. This is a long, narrow lake and is best fished from a canoe, there are several spots where you can camp that are ideal for putting in a canoe, kayak or car-top boat.
There are many other small lakes in the area that are good fishing, most have unimproved campsites.
When fishing from the shore, I like to bottom fish this lake, if you can spin cast here, use a spinner with dark green in it. Trolling works well too. Fly fishing at the shore from a canoe is the best though.
I have caught some big trout in Blackwater Lake, the lake contains rainbow, cutthroat and dolly varden trout.
There is plenty of wildlife here, you could see black bears, Roosevelt elk, blacktail deer, wolves, cougars and many types of smaller creatures along with river otters, look in the forest for an abundance of birdlife. Camping is great and please remember to bring your camera.
Hoomac lake is in between the Sayward Valley and Port McNeill on the north island highway, not very far from Woss. It’s a very nice little lake. There is a rest area with a trail that takes you down to the lake through a series of railed steps. There is a hook up to the lake trail from the bottom of the stairs and another way to join from the north end of the parking lot, just past the restrooms.
The trail system that follows along the shoreline is a nice walk, there are interpretive signs to inform you of a variety of things. Along the trail, you will find some nice resting benches to just sit and enjoy the lake views. Walk quietly as you go around the lake, and you will have a good chance to see many different types of animals, both big and small plus many types of birds. You could see bears, deer, elk, raccoons, pine martins and birds like songbirds, waterfowl, land birds like grouse and many others.
The fishing here can be pretty good in the spring and fall with cutthroat, rainbows and a few Kokanee trout. The rainbows can get to a good size but mostly you will find trout ranging from 25 to 45 cm here. Kayak or canoe is the way to go, it’s so peaceful fishing like this. You can troll or fly fish here, trolling works well during the day, but flies are best at dusk.
It’s a nice spot to stop at for a rest, a bit of a walk to stretch your legs and maybe have a picnic lunch. We always pull over and take a walk to the lake, its a nice break about half ways to the north island from Campbell River. There is an 8 hour limit to your rest here at Hoomac Lake.
Klaklakama Lake or might I say, klaklakama lakes, there are two of them, are called the highlight of the Nimpkish Valley by some, I do agree. You can access these lakes in a car. There are two recreational sites on the lakes with good boat launches and some great fishing.
The stocked trout can reach 30 to 40 cm in size but the wild dolly varden can get up to 2.5 kg in size and really give you a great fishing experience. Fly fishing, spin casting or trolling in spring or fall is the best way to get these lunkers.
The camping here is great with a well looked after campsite. The Camping is great, the wildlife here is awesome and the birds here are not camera-shy, you have a good chance of seeing black bears, cougars, wolves, elk, deer, and other smaller forest animals. So bring your camera.
There are two rec sites on these lakes, one on the smaller lower Klaklakama lake and one on the larger upper Klaklakama Lake. The lower lake has a small campsite area with room for about 5 groups and a boat launch, the upper lake rec site has a sandy beach, a boat launch and there are some impressive trees growing right in the site, there is room for about 4 groups to camp here.
To reach the lakes, take the inland island highway past the Sayward Valley, turn off when you reach the Mount Cain ski hill road. Turn onto Mount Davie Road and then south onto Duncan Road. Go another 2 km and then turn left on the Nimpkish Main South, another km will get you to the lakes.
The mountain views you get as you drive these roads are incredible, take your time and enjoy them, l am always taken back with the beauty of this area. I am sure you will be too.
I first fished McCreight lake back in the early 60s, it was called bear lake then. The fishing was great then and it still is today. You reach the lake from the rock bay road, a well-traveled road that is in good condition.
This lake is set in some very nice country, mountains and valleys with wildlife all around you. The lake is stocked with cutthroat trout and has kokanee as well. I have caught Trout up to 1.5 kg over the years from this lake. It is fished best from a boat, trolling as this is a very deep lake. Although at the west end, where the sandy beach is and the Armor De Cosmos Creek flows in, you can bottom fish here, I usually have good luck here and if you are hungry, there are wild blueberries growing everywhere.
There are 3 recreation sites on the lake along with lots of camping areas plus several car-top boat launches. At the west end of the lake, there is a trail that takes you down to where the creek that feeds the lake flows in, there is a nice sandy beach here and lots of room for camping, this is such a nice beach.
At the east end of the lake, there are some marshy areas where the lake narrows just before the outflow. I have had some great fishing there using a canoe. There are logs here that you will need to pull your canoe over in order to get into the good spots, buts its really worth the effort.
The whole area is thick with wildlife so bring your camera. One time, as I was canoeing along in the narrows, i looked over toward the shore and not more than 15 meters away was a black bear, not noteworthy as there are many here. What was interesting about this bear was the fact that he was sitting on a stump just like a man would and the look on his face as we went by was quite comical. You could tell he was not sure what this log with two heads sticking out of it was. He looked quite humorous, made my day.
Nimpkish lake is located in the nimpkish valley and is a very large lake. The lake is 20 +km long but quite narrow. The wind can come up on this lake and produce some very large waves that will put you to shore to wait it out so be careful. On the other hand, it is a very popular windsurfing lake.
There are dolly varden and cutthroat trout in this lake that can reach impressive sizes. Trolling is the best method to catch those biggies. There are several boat launches and recreational sites on the lake as well as several provincial parks on the lake. The scenery is quite beautiful and there are plenty of mountains to observe and photograph, so bring your camera.
At the north end of the lake is a modern wooden trestle that goes across the nimpkish river just as it leaves the lake, there are many old trestles in the area and they are fun to find and photograph.
North Vancouver Island was in a lot of areas, logged by train. I have seen the remains of many old trestles and some of these were incredible feats of engineering. The men who built these trestles had a true understanding of working with wood, to think of the weight of the old steam engine trains and their loads of logs going across these structures just shows the knowledge they had, a lost art form now.
The wildlife in the area is awesome and you have a good chance of seeing wolves, bears, cougars, elk, deer, pine martins, raccoons and a great variety of birds. There are lots of incredible beautiful wildflowers here on the shores of this lake as well. It is quite a wonderland.
Paterson lake is located just north of grey lake which is on the Brewster Lake road. Turn onto the Paterson lake road just north of fry lake. Or you can reach the lake from the camp five mainline just above Brewster lake. This Lake has some great fishing in it. I remember coming to this lake when l was just 6 or 7, more than 50 years ago. A friend of my dads had a cabin at the east end of the lake and we would go and spend the weekend fishing the lake. The cabin is gone now but the old wharf is still there.
The fish were big but I was small so maybe they just seemed big. I still remember one time when we there in the fall, my dad and older brothers had headed out hunting and I was left behind at the cabin. I being 9, got bored pretty fast and figured I would take out the 12 boats to fish, it had a 9.9 gas motor.
I ran down the lake and was going to fish my way back, but as I turned the motor to steer the boat back in the direction of the cabin, the motor jammed and l could not straighten it out, the boat would only go in circles. If I was not back soon and my dad got back and found me gone, it would create panic and I was going to be in deep shit. There was a paddle on board and I tried to paddle the boat but it was going to take forever, so I fired up the motor, stuck a stick in the gunnel and put the paddle out on the side that was on the outside of the turn, by adjusting this, l was able to make my way back. My dad was pissed at me, as he had already returned. But on the other hand, he was quite impressed at how I got back.
For the last 30 or so years, a family has lived on the island in the lake. The forestry tried to have them removed several times but the courts would let them stay.I did not see anything wrong with them being there. About 2 years ago, the old guy had to go to town for some medical service and well they were in town, their house was burnt down by the Ministry. They lost all their stuff but more than that, they lost their way of life that they had made for themselves. I don’t understand why they needed to remove them as they were doing no harm and had built a wonderful home on that island.
Roberts lake is just north of Campbell River on the North Island Highway. There is a nice little restaurant there that serves awesome food and pastries.
The lake is a deep lake right at the base of Menzies mountain. The fishing is awesome. I have pulled quite a few real lunkers from this lake and have seen lots more taken. There are rainbow and cutthroat trout here as well as some nice steelhead get up into the lake occasionally.
On the south end of the lake, a new day-use site has been built. There are picnic tables at the end of a short well build trail. Past the picnic tables is a fishing dock. This a good place to wet a line. We used to bottom fish right where this dock is. This is a real nice site.
There are a number of rustic, non maintained campsites on the lake that you can use. There used to be some private campsites on the backside of the lake where they used to bring city kids to. I think there were 3 of them and they could probably hold 50 75 kids each. I don’t know if these summer camps are still in operation.
Across the lake from the store was one, it was at the base of the mountain and from this site, you could follow an old logging train roadbed that went for miles. I really enjoyed this hike and the wildlife there was incredible.
There are quite a few mountain streams that flow into the lake and bottom fishing where these flow into the lake will give you the best chance of hooking into one of the lunkers from Roberts Lake.
The bluffs up above the lake are great places to harvest wild onions and lowlands by the lake are full of chanterelle mushrooms, a fry up of wild onions and chanterelle mushrooms as a side dish for fresh trout, now that sounds good.
Schoen lake and area gives you access to wilderness hiking, fishing and camping, the lake is one of the most beautiful lakes on Vancouver Island. Schoen lake park is located northwest of Campbell River in the nimpkish valley, the park is a little more primitive than some parks, but the chance to view nature in all its glory more than makes up for the lack of modern amenities. This is a nice lake with breathtaking beauty all around it.
You will find some great camping at this park, one of the few remote lakes that offer car-accessible camping on northern Vancouver Island. Within the park’s protective boundaries are old-growth forests, waterways, meadows, small lakes and blacktail deer, Roosevelt elk, and black bears. Plus so many birds and awesome vistas that you are just in awe.
Facilities at the park include a campground with 9 campsites, pit toilets, a day-use recreation area, and a boat launch. The park is open year-round with camping fees collected from May 15 to September 30. Wilderness camping is allowed, but no facilities are provided. The most popular spots are schoen creek, nisnak creek and up the nisnak creek toward the Meadows. Access to nisnak meadows is via an unmarked and non-maintained hiking route.
Access to Schoen Lake Provincial Park is on davie road (gravel), about 12 km south of Hoomak Lake rest area on Island Highway 19, north of Sayward. Paddlers can launch a car-top boat from the end of Davie road. The lake has a good population of cutthroat and rainbow trout. The best fishing is done with a fly at the where the creeks enter the lake or by trolling. The best time to fish is right before dark when the fish begin to rise for the night bite.
Stella lake has a good number of rainbow trout, stocked cutthroat trout and dolly varden. These fish average around 40 to 45 cm but routinely reach 1.5 kg. The lake benefits from having one of the most aggressive cutthroat trout stocking programs on the Island. This service is supplied by the Fresh-Water Fisheries Society Of BC, 10,000 Cutthroats are added every year. They may not get huge but the fishing is pretty consistent. When I was a young man, friends and I would come here to fish, the fish were much bigger then, it was not unheard of to see fish in the 3 to 4 kg size pulled from this lake. Fishing is best in the spring and fall. Trolling works all day, fly-fishing works well in the morning and evening, the fishing from an hour before dark picks up from the shore as the trout come in to feed on insects.
Stella lake has 3 very nice recreation sites, the Stella Bay Rec Site has room for up to 2 groups of campers, the Stella North Rec Site has is for one group only, but the Stella Beach Rec Site is quite big with room for 14 groups of campers and this one has an awesome beach that’s safe for the kids.
To reach Stella Lake, just head north on Hwy 19. Just past Roberts lake, take a right-hand turn on to the elk bay road and follow for about 11km, then you’ll come to the turnoff to the Stella Lake Road, turn left, follow it for another 3.2 km and you’ll reach the Stella Beach Recreation Site.
There are a number of other wilderness campsites scattered around the lake that have some nice camping spots, good fishing, and great areas to canoe in. Bring your camera, you could see deer, elk, bear, squirrels and numerous kinds of birds.
Upana Lake is a popular summer fishing spot with a great rainbow trout fishery, and the upana caves are located nearby. The lake is located 17 km northwest of Gold River. This is a very pretty lake. Upana Lake is lake fairly close to the town of Gold River and it has some good trout fishing in it. Take the road to Tahsis from town, go up the head bay road for about 15 to 20 minutes. Once you reach the top of calla creek hill, you will cross over a concrete bridge deck. Shortly after that, you will see a small creek that runs under the road, you should pull over here and park off of the road as much as possible. There is a trail that runs beside the creek that will take you down to the lake. You can fish here as well as set up a rustic campsite.
I have pulled some nice rainbows from here and a friend pulled a very large dolly (3 kg) from here a number of years ago. There is such beauty in this area, wonderful views to feast your eyes on. I have always enjoyed it here.
The scenery is quite breathtaking with mountains and valleys, rivers and streams, and then you also have the upana caves just above the lake. These caves are pretty awesome. There is plenty of wildlife and birds to keep your camera snapping and your eyes will be filled with wonder of the forests. You have a great chance of seeing bears, cougars, wolves, elk or deer along with other smaller forest creatures like the raccoons, squirrels and pine martins and the birdlife is incredible. Birds from the very small like the hummingbirds that arrive each spring in the thousands right up to the majestic eagles. Its a paradise.
Vernon Lake is located in the nimpkish valley on north Vancouver Island. There are 24 campsites located on this picturesque lake. there is a good boat launch on the lake and a wonderful sandy beach waiting for the swimmers. This is a great family camping spot.
The fishing is awesome with big rainbows and dollies just waiting to get hold of your line. Some of these fish can reach the 3 kg range and fight like the devil. If you’re not into fishing, then maybe you would like to take in the windsurfing that can be had on this lake, it’s become quite popular here. You can also just put in a canoe or kayak and head out to explore this wonderful lake at a nice relaxed pace.
There are lots of hiking trails in the area and plenty of wildlife here including, black bears, elk, blacktail deer, cougars, wolves, beavers, otters and maybe even a grizzly bear, ( they say we might have a breeding population of the big bears here now). There are plenty of birds here and a great abundance of wildflowers.
If you continue up the road for about 3 more clicks, you will come to kiyu creek, you can park your car on the side of the road and hike along the creek to the Nimpkish river where an island of big first growth trees has been left as an ecological reserve, the trees here are 300 t0 400 yrs old and are quite impressive to see. This is a must-do hike as this is an incredible place to see, one time, as I got to the river, there were a heard elk crossing to the shore from the island, they were creating quite a splash as they moved through the water, it was beautiful.
This is an outstanding Vancouver Island area lake with abundant with some incredible wildlife viewing opportunities, great fishing excitement and the convenience of road access. Victoria Lake is a pristine 1500 hectare lake just 5 km east of Port Alice and 60 km southwest of Port Hardy.
The lake is fed by limestone enriched water from the marble river drainage system and forms an integral part of the marble river basin itself. Access to this breathtaking wilderness recreation region is by logging road.
Enjoy miles of incredible hiking trails through lush dense forests, spectacular wildlife and fantastic fishing dolly varden char, kokanee salmon, rainbow and cutthroat trout. There are consistent tales of real big fish that are pulled from this lake, fish as big as 5 kg. Although fish in the 2 to 3 kg range are much more common.
There are several boat launches, a day-use site at the Victoria Lake Rec Site, a campground over at the Spruce Bay Rec Site with boat launch and many other rustic campsites on this lake. There are many private cabins around this lake and l ask that you respect them.
Woss lake is a large body of water that is easily accessed by car. The lake produces good numbers of rainbow, cutthroat and dolly varden trout that average around 35 to 45 cm but can get to be 2.5 kg in this deep lake. Watch for strong winds that come up fast on this lake, The way the winds come up almost every day makes this lake a favorite destination for windsurfers. All in all, l must say this is one of the best lakes on Vancouver Island.
There is a good recreation site with a boat launch at the north end of this lake with great views. The south end of the lake is protected by the Woss Lake Provincial Park. The lake here can reach depths of 150 meters, its a great place to troll deep where the monster fish are, there are some very nice creeks that flow in where you could set up a wilderness campsite and spend a few days at. There are many such spots on this big lake. This is a great lake to spend time on in a kayak or canoe, so peaceful and not that well used making it a premier camping lake.
There is an abundance of wildlife in the area including black bears, cougars, wolves, blacktail deer and Roosevelt elk along with lots of different bird species. The wildflower show in the late spring is pretty incredible and the insect life on the shores is awesome, so bring your camera.
There are many summer cabins located on this lake, please respect these cabins and do not trespass. I would love to own one of these, what a place to head up for the summer months or a great winter trip in the island’s wilderness.