The best part about lakes is their endurance – reliable and steadfast – when rivers are in the rafters and being removed from people’s homes by dredging and suction. At such times you can either pitch in with the sandbagging effort, false cast in a field, or relent and seek out a nearby stillwater. I chose Summit Lake, near Nakusp, B.C.
Summit Lake is sort of like Everylake, U.S.A. There’s a tidy campground at water’s edge with graveled pads and grated fire pits. Kids ride roughshod around the asphalt loop in camo T-shirts and pink bicycle helmets, their mothers and fathers bellowing out of motorhome windows to call in a pet or call out a child. After dinner, in the darkness, orange firelight delineates the shoreline like an Amazon village.
It’s a bit like that out on the water as well. Couples with butts dangling from their mouths troll from tinboards, lines trailing behind them in monofilament slopes. Every now and then a splash, whoops, a net scooped aloft with dinner and a smile.
As with rivers, the edges of things are most productive. Dropoffs. Shoals. Shorelines. Every now and then a cast produces a strike, a tug. I smile.
Waterfalls cart runoff from the grey mountainsides, still pocked with snow in the shady hollows. A pair of loons watch passersby with nary a concern. At dusk their eerie wails remind you that despite the campfires and wiener roasts, this is still the Canadian wilderness, and you’re damn lucky to have it, still.
I ignite the hickory in Smokey Joe, my pint-sized Weber grill. I place two foot-long trout – hatchery stock from down the road – over the red-orange coals. The skin crispens and the flesh turns the same vivid coal-color. Each moist mouthful is a reminder that catch-and-release is an ethos, not religion.
I prefer moving water, but like these mouthfuls, lakes remind me that fly-fishing is where you find it, and where it finds you … Chris