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Home / Cariboo Chilcotin Coast / Cariboo / Quesnel Lake

Quesnel Lake

A Step Back in Time

Quesnel Lake is a glacial lake and the source of the Quesnel River. With a depth up to 610 metres, it is the deepest lake in British Columbia and is thought to be the deepest fjord lake in the world. It has almost 600 km (360 miles) of shoreline distributed among the three arms - West, East and North Arms. In the heart of the Cariboo Mountains, it has stunning scenery including sandy beaches and ancient cedar rainforests up the North Arm and fjord-like rock walls and our own Niagara Falls up the East Arm. It lies just to the west of three provincial parks - Bowron Lake, Cariboo Mountains and Wells Gray.

The principal interest in Quesnel Lake is its fishery. It is a popular sport fishing destination, and is also home to about a quarter of BC's sockeye. Anthropogenic disturbance nearly wiped out the sockeye population in the early 1900's, but it has now rebounded to historic levels. The lake is a long, narrow fjord-type lake - carved by glaciers, not man-made - and is stunningly beautiful.

Cast for trophy wild rainbow trout in one of the world's most pristine & unique settings. From diverse stillwaters to Sockeye salmon creeks and rivers, the exceptionally beautiful and unique Quesnel Lake ecosystem offers Rainbow trout angling that is unparalleled anywhere in British Columbia. Measured in pounds and not inches, many expert flyfishers say that this is hard to match anywhere on earth!


There are two access points to Quesnel Lake.

1) To the town of Likely on the west arm of Quesnel Lake: turn east off Hwy 97 at 150 Mile House onto the Horsefly Rd. Continue to the major intersection of paved roads, then turn left (northeast) onto the Likely Road. Total distance from 150 Mile is 85 km (53 mi). From here you can access the northern portion of the lake. Ask for information and directions in Likely.

2) To the village of Horsefly and on to the southern shores at the junction of the three arms of Quesnel Lake: turn east off Hwy 97 at 150 Mile House on to the Horsefly Road. Stay on this road until you reach the village of Horsefly -- 59 km (37 mi). Once in Horsefly, turn right at Clarke's Store and cross the Horsefly River, as if going to Horsefly Lake. Follow the signs to Elysia Resort, which is at the end of the road (signs along 42 kms of well-maintained gravel road). More directions and more information can be obtained in Horsefly.

Things to See and Do
  • Quesnel River

The river flows west out of Quesnel Lake, commencing at Likely. Rainbow and Bull Trout from one pound to 14 pounds are taken on spinning gear from July through October. There is an angling closure covering 50 meters on either side of Likely Bridge.

  • Quesnel River Hatchery

The hatchery produces approximately 2.3 million Chinook salmon fry every year to stock the rivers and streams in the surrounding area. Adult salmon can be viewed from August 1 to the end of September; from November to April the fry can be observed in their different stages of development. From April to August 1 there are no fish in the hatchery at all. The hatchery is open seven days a week.

  • Fishing

Rainbows, Bull Trout, Lake Char, and Kokanee are found in Quesnel Lake. These fish can grow to enormous sizes. You should ask locals where to fish on this huge lake, or, even better, hire a guide. Summer winds can be a danger for small boats. The Quesnel River flows from the lake at Likely, and there are several smaller rivers and creeks (including the world famous Horsefly River) that flow into Quesnel Lake. In the late summer and fall, millions of Sockeye and Chinook salmon come up the Quesnel River and swim through the lake to get to rivers such as the Mitchell and the Horsefly to spawn.

  • Explore the Shoreline

This large and very beautiful lake offers some of the most spectacular and secluded beaches found on any lake in B.C.  Along with fishing, there is beachcombing, swimming, water skiing, sailing, boating, kayaking, hiking and mountain climbing.

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Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia

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