I have a sentimental connection to brook trout. My first fish on a fly was a brightly colored 7 inch brookie in a small stream outside of Bozeman, Montana. I hooked him on a size 10 elk hair caddis behind a sunken log in the middle of July. My hands trembled as I lifted the wild fish from the net and admired him in awe. I knew I’d never stop fly fishing from that moment on.
The brook trout at Fortress Lake are much different than their cousins in Montana who sparked my fly fishing journey years ago. These brooks are big, bold, and fight like hell. Here is what you need to know to catch some of the largest brook trout on the planet:
Tip 1: Dawn & Dusk
Anyone who has spent time on the water knows the general rule that fishing is best early and late in the day. This holds true with Fortress Lake’s monster trout as well. Of course, you can catch fish midday (and we did), but the numbers aren’t quite the same. Although, gloomy skies can be the ticket to feisty bites all day long!
Tip 2: Structure & Flow
Using terms like “always” and “never” is a quick way to get yourself into a sticky pickle when talking about fishing. However in this specific scenario, “always” is fitting and accurate. Fish always congregate around structure and creek inflows when present. Looking for logs and other structure is a great place to start. Almost anywhere that has a dramatic change in depth will also hold fish (compared to the shallow flats). Creek inflows are the holy grail of fish concentration because the flowing water creates a conveyor belt of food and cold, highly oxygenated water that fish love. At Fortress Lake, focus on where the milky inflow meets the clear turquoise lake water.
Tip 3: Low & Slow
Use a heavy streamer pattern and retrieve it slowly near the bottom of the lake. We had luck with both full sink lines and sink tips. The most important thing to remember here is to be patient and let her sink – most anglers begin to strip before the fly has a chance to reach proper depth. Anecdotally, slow retrieval’s produced the most bites.
The brook trout in Fortress Lake are plentiful and big enough to bend a 5 weight in half. Fishing for these brightly colored beauties in British Columbia’s backcountry is an experience you won’t soon forget!