A Lake by a highway
Have you have ever traveled along the busy stretch of highway 97 between
Kelowna and Vernon?
In between the constant dodging of reckless vehicles, you may have had a
moment to notice the large body of water north of Winfield called Wood Lake.
You even might have noticed a fisherman or two on the water and wondered what
they were fishing for and why they would want to fish a lake so close to the
highway. Well, if you are wondering about Wood, keep reading. I will tell you
its fishy secrets and explain why the lake has more to offer than jet skis and
Wood Lake is considered one of the Okanaganís larger lakes. The lake is
certainly large and is considered by many to be more of a summer recreation
hot spot than a fishing destination. The real scoop on Wood Lake however, is
that it is the kokanee capital of the Okanagan. In 2000, I was fortunate
enough to perform a creel survey on Wood Lake. Before conducting the survey, I
had only heard the legends about the kokanee to be had in the lake.
I soon found out, that the legends were true. Anglers that I
interviewed/surveyed were consistently bringing in their 2 fish limit of
kokanee around 1 kilogram or two pounds. For those readers that donít know a
lot about kokanee, 2 pounds is a big kokanee! Sure, there are larger kokanee
than that in other lakes but they are few far outnumbered by littler ones. The
most unbelievable thing about Wood Lake that year was that nearly all of the
kokanee caught by anglers were greater than one and a half pounds! The
seemingly small limit of two kokanee a day would easily feed a family of four
(if fishing for food is on your mind.)
The great advantage of doing the creel survey was that I was able to ask
all the fishermen what they used while fishing that day. Assuming that I
wasnít the victim of fishermanís lies, I discovered that Wood Lake kokanee
bite your typical kokanee set-up. Willow leaf flashers followed by a wedding
ring of almost any size or color were the number one rig(s). The red wedding
ring was the most popular color, however, and a small piece of worm or maggot
on it proved to make the difference for many anglers. Other successful hooks
included the spinning-glow, a small spinner, and even a fly, such as yellow or
orange carey or doc spratley.
Depending on the time of year, it seemed that depth was a more important
factor in catching fish than the hook itself. In April and May most anglers
fished with no weight on their lines, staying close to the water surface. In
late June and July, the most successful anglers were fishing as far down as
thirty feet. Mornings consistently yielded more kokanee than afternoons but
there were exceptions. The odd angler occasionally brought in trout, perch
and whitefish but kokanee were by far the most sought after fish.
The kokanee fishing in Wood Lake was best in May and June. Since they
spawn in September the kokanee are at their largest in July and August. Not
too much kokanee fishing occurs in the fall but if you are passing by Wood
Lake in late November or early December, you may want to give whitefish a
Many anglers can be seen flipping a hook and maggot out 10 feet from
shore. If you are still and quiet enough you might even see a school of these
ghost-like fish swim right in front of you. Although whitefish donít offer
much of a fight, they are very tasty once you learn how to fillet and cook
In the winter, the lake is mostly empty of fisherman, unless it
ices-over. If it does freeze over, ice fishing for kokanee is very popular
with the locals. Limits of kokanee are captured by almost anyone who drills a
hole and lowers a line.
So, the next time you make a trip to or through the North Okanagan and
pass by that large body of water alongside Highway 97 north of Winfield called
Wood Lake, donít assume the people fishing out there have nothing better to
do. Stop at one of those highway pull-offs and wet a line for an hour or two;
it may be all the time you need to catch a few.