North Island Explorer: Guide to North Vancouver Island















 Trout fishing at the mouth of the Wolf River.

Trout Fishing from a Kayak at the Mouth of the Wolf River: A view of buttle lake,

a cut-throat troat, and the mouth of the Wolf River.























Buttle Lake with its bounty of lake trout becomes a trout fisher's paradise in spring. Starting in April, but taking off in May, the trout tend to gather at the mouths of the many creeks and rivers that flow into this vast freshwater body, making them attractive areas to fish. Most of the fishing is done by motor boats with trolling rigs, but I wondered what luck I might have with a spinning rod and a kayak. It turns out, lots.


There are several tributaries to Buttle Lake that offer the possibility of a good day of fishing. At the north end of the lake, there is the Wolf River, in the middle, there is Philips Creek and, to the south, there is Ralph River. Fishing is not actually allowed in the tributaries themselves, but that's ok because the hot spots are at the mouths of these rivers and creeks, anyway. I choose Wolf River because of its proximity to Campbell River.


This time, I choose to launch our kayak at the boat launch just south of the park headquarters. Our kayak is a Necky Amaruk double, which weighs a colossal 90 lbs, making it a . . .well you fill in the blank . . . to portage over long distances. Last time, I launched at Lupin falls, but that involved a portage that I wasn't willing to do with my five year old son. (When I did it in winter I was with another adult). The advantage of the boat launch is that you drop the kayak right at the water's edge and you can paddle some pretty spectacular cliffs and rock bluffs. Of course, launching at the Lupin Falls pullout saves you about an hour's paddling each way.


We started early, which is always wise on Buttle Lake because afternoon winds can turn up quite suddenly. As we passed the Rainbow Island marine campground, we saw signs of fish rising everywhere and sometimes the fish themselves when they broke the surface with a silvery splash. The water was glass the whole way down to the mouth of the Wolf River.


We kept to the west side of the lake because it offered the better scenery, though in truth, the east side of the lake is much the same. The cliffs certainly seem to be steeper on the west side of the lake (as in the first picture) and I thought they would make a fine area for some secluded diving and swimming when the weather heats up a little more.  


I had never fished trout from a kayak before. I had jigged rockfish from a kayak in the ocean, but I wasn't sure how a light spinning rod would work in the lake. I also knew that most people use trolling gear for fishing Buttle Lake. When we first saw the fish rising and jumping around us, I got out my spinning rod and took a few casts. Nothing. I had a Rooster Tail fishing lure because I know from experiences hiking in the backwoods that cutthroat troat cannot resist them.


Well, I didn't want to waste too much time trying to catch fish before I got to the mouth of the river, because I knew it would cut down on our time to fish there. So I got a minor inspiration: I let out about 50 feet of line with the rooster tail, put the rod between my legs with the tip hanging over the back of the kayak, and started paddling south. I was foolishly attempting to troll with a spinning lure on a rod hanging off of the back of my kayak. Unorthodox though it was, a few minutes later I felt the unmistakable jerking of a fish on the line.


Reeling the fish in, I could see it was a dandy. I asked my son if we should keep it or let it go and, in imperial Roman fashion, he gave the fish the thumbs down. We decided we would catch three fish for dinner. One fore each of us and one for his mom. After another ten minutes of kayaking towards the Wolf River, we had caught our limit trolling with the spinning rod. Well, that was that. We had had a great day fishing before we had even arrived at our destination. 


Some time later, we paddled by the Wolf River campground and arrived at the mouth of the river. Satisfied with our catch, we didn't even attempt to fish the mouth. Instead, I tried to paddle into the river but the current was too strong for me alone so we beached the kayak on the wide delta at the mouth and headed inland for a bit of exploring. But then, as so often happens, the wind came up quite sudden and fierce. So we cut our exploration of the delta short and headed back. My son slept in his cockpit the whole way home. That night we had green curried trout with water chestnuts and mini corns.



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