The Stellako River: Short but sweet

Photo Credit: Graham Smith

The Stellako River: Short but sweet

👤Brian Smith 🕔Apr 04, 2014

Touted by Canadian Fly Fisher Magazine as number one on BC’s do-it-yourself fly fishing destinations list, the Stellako River rarely disappoints a wandering fly fisher, boasting gin-clear fertile water, breath-taking scenery and superb accommodations.

The Stellako is not only a majestic, pristine and magnificent river—it is a great river, and we’re lucky to have it on our northern doorstep. Revered by local fly fishers and fly-fishing enthusiasts all over the world as a must-do river on their bucket lists, the Stellako offers trophy-class wild native rainbow trout to anglers that will take the time and make the effort to learn the intricacies of her challenging water.

The Stellako is accessed from Highway 16, four kilometres west of Fraser Lake. Turn southwest onto Francois Lake Road, travel 11 km on pavement, and you’ll meet the Stellako at the Glenannan Bridge where it exits Francois Lake. The river is short, only 11 km in length, and empties into Fraser Lake east of Highway 16. The Stellako Lodge, situated on the river at the bridge, offers excellent lodge or campsite accommodations if you wish to stay a few days or weeks.

Day-use access to the river is available from the parking lot at the bridge, where there is a rough foot trail that traverses the south side of the river for a few kilometres downstream. After that, the trail is very primitive, and the river is best accessed by pontoon boat, kayak or rubber dinghy put in at the Glenannan Bridge. The float is 11 km, with take-outs at the Highway 16 bridge and also upriver via an old gravel pit road that is accessed by taking the first right off Francois Lake Road about 500 metres from the highway, entering through an unlocked gate.

If you decide to float the river, you should have experience navigating Class 4 water, go with a buddy, and be prepared to make a short portage at the take-out on river left above the falls, just past the seven-kilometre marker and hydro transmission lines.

Insect hatches are prolific on the Stellako, where you can expect to encounter varieties of the following: mayflies, including Tricos, green and brown drakes; caddis flies, comprising spotted, cinnamon and Grannom assortments; and stoneflies, comprising salmon flies, golden, little olive and yellow sallies groups. Some of the most effective dry-fly patterns include the Adams hook sizes 12-20, Elk Hair Caddis variations sizes 12-18 and a variety of stoneflies sizes 6-16. Nymph fishing is also effective, using small pheasant tail nymphs, caddis emergers and stonefly variations in all sizes of flies.  

The Stellako has special restrictions: a Classified Waters licence is required, open season is beginning of June to mid-November, and there are rainbow trout release and fly-fishing-only sections. Please consult the regulations for complete information. Enjoy the river—it’s special!