Hike-in Fly Fishing at its Peak

One of the many reasons I’m drawn to fly fishing is that success has to be earned: developing a consistently tight loop, smooth swing, or drag-free drift doesn’t happen overnight. This higher-than-normal barrier to entry is also why I am drawn to hike-in fishing. Living in BC’s lower mainland, you’re likely to experience some variation of combat fishing in virtually any fishery that’s accessible by vehicle and within an hour of Vancouver. For those without jetboats or helicopters, hiking into remote bodies of water is only a sturdy pair of hiking boots and a pack away, and can be an incredibly rewarding fishing experience.

In BC, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to hike-in fishing destinations, with world-class provincial parks and well-maintained trails at our fingertips. This past summer I made the trek into a number of these beautiful spots, the most notable being a 22km out-and-back hike into Mamquam Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park over a long weekend. This trip epitomized the pleasure and pain of getting to a remote fishing spot, battling the elements along the way, and ultimately having an enjoyable experience with friends and family.




A small crew of us set out with loaded packs on a Friday evening, with the aim of getting a line wet in Mamquam Lake by our second afternoon. The journey was at times soggy, but always stunning. The variety of the terrain made for some truly epic scenery, which helped to distract from burning legs and lungs. We spent the first night at Elfin Lakes Campground, which is a well-manicured spot with a stunning 190 degree plus view of the surrounding mountains.


We’d hauled up a few frothy beverages that we were quick to dispatch while prepping gear in anticipation of the following day’s fishing. I’d never fished Mamquam before, so I brought a hodge-podge of trout flies in various sizes to cover my bases; I kept it broad and hoped for the best.


The valley in which Mamquam Lake resides is truly epic. Mountains shoot up from the shoreline and dense forest cloaks the valley in a sea of lush greenery and blueberries.


Surrounded by scenes like this, the fishing almost becomes secondary. That said, I still wanted to get into some fish, of course. I’d brought a journeyman lightweight fishing rig with me: a 8.5’ 3wt, fitted with the ultralightweight Redington Zero. Knowing that we were going to be below the treeline, I anticipated some challenging backcast scenarios and potentially some roll-cast-only shorelines, so I lined the Zero with a OPST Microskagit and brought a few different tips to see what I could get into.

As in most of BC, you can expect rainbow and/or cutthroat trout in stillwater like Mamquam Lake. Working the shoreline, I managed to catch up with a few stunning juvenile rainbows-—parr marks and all.

What these feisty little fish lacked in size, they more than made up for in coloration. After releasing a few of these little beauties, we settled in for the night at Rampart Ponds Campground, which sits high above Mamquam Lake, and braced for the long hike back out in the morning.



Article: Teddy Cosco

Photography: Lindsay Derer & Maddie Cosco

Follow @castandiron for more hike-in fishing inspiration.