Fortress Lake Wilderness Retreat  

The only good thing about the end of a stay at Fortress Lake Wilderness Retreat is knowing you’ll experience the soul-stirring flight through the Rocky Mountains again, this time in the other direction. Otherwise you’ll wish you could stay just one more day – okay, maybe 2 or 3 more- sleeping beneath 10,000-ft. Chisel Peak, and drinking in all you can of the exquisite wilderness setting and the best fly fishing for big brook trout west of Labrador.

Fortress lake isnear the Alberta/British Columbia border, part of a Canadian Rockies World Heritage Site. The only access is by air or 22 kilometres on foot.


I’ve fished Fortress several times and look forward to another visit this summer. I’m confident the lake’s three-pound average will hold up, and I don’t believe it’s unreasonable to hope for a fish over six.


Brook trout are the piscatorial paradox. To my eye the most beautiful of trout, they are “exotics” in western North America, frequently guilty of out-competing native cutthroat and bull trout. Happily, this is not the case at Fortress. There were no fish in the lake at all until brookies were introduced in 1930s. So, enjoy them with a clear conscience. No harm, no foul.


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Story | Jim McLennan

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