Brook Trout by Kate Sorenson
Genetically pure, world record strain Nipigon Coaster Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) were originally stocked into Fortress Lake in the early 1930s. Fortress Lake is a very productive mountain lake, teeming with chironomids, shrimp and other invertebrates. Fisheries research shows that these brook trout put on approximately 2 pounds in their third year, hence, the majority of fish caught will typically be 3 to 6 pounds with much larger present. Few trout under 2 pounds are caught. Growth rates are exceptional as forage is heavy in given areas of the lake and water temperature forces seasonal movement. The lake record is 11 3/4 pounds. While these are not terribly long trout, most in the 17 to 24 inch range, they grow in the shape of footballs, are very heavy, and use their weight to put on a great fight. Brookies are the only fish found here. You’ll soon see why Tv shows like Fly Nation / Fly Max Films, “Adventures North” and “The New Fly Fisher” call this the finest brook trout fishery.
Fortress Lake is 11km (7mi) long and averages 1.5km (1mi) wide. There is a short reach of the Wood River that we fish until the river closes Sept 1. Fortress Lake is considered amongst the world’s finest brook trout fisheries, set in a stunning, world-renowned mountain location. While it is a fertile lake, it is set in a fragile ecosystem at the continental divide. Please help us to preserve this pristine wilderness location by minimizing your impact on the fishery, the lake, and the surrounding environment. We are the only commercial operators permitted on the lake, no other guide, company, or services exist or are permitted. The fishing is as good now as it has ever been – let’s keep it that way! Fortress Lake Retreat is catch & release for guests, though we periodically keep a trout to serve
Fortress Lake Patterns
When planning your trip to Fortress Lake Wilderness Retreat the following patterns have proven extremely effective.
Black Head Black Wooley Buggers Size 4-8
Sparkle Leeches/ Chrystal Buggers- Black/Brown Size 4-8
Balanced Leeches Black/Brown Sizes 4-8
Chironomids- (White bead Head) Snow Cone Size 10-16
Black Chironomid Pupa Size 12-18
Chromies- Black Bead Head Size 12-18
Beach Head Pheasant Tail Size 12-18
Cooper John Size 10-14
Clouser Minnows Size 6 & 8
Dragon Fly Nymph Size 8-10
Elk Hair Caddis Size 10 & 12
Deer Hair Mouse Size 4
June – Early June is excellent for streamers, leeches, and spin fishing. Some very good sight fishing occurs in early – mid June. By the second week of June the chironomid fishing can get mind blowing. Stillwater author Phil Rowley was blown away in his many visits as he has never seen as many chironomids in a stomach pump sample as he has at Fortress Lake. The peak of chironomid fishing is the third week of June. This continues through mid July. The avalanche season rumbles through the valley all June.
July – Early July is awesome for chironomids, along with nymphing, streamers, and spin fishing.
August – Sight-fishing begins to really take shape and the fishing once again can be exceptional. Trout begin to get darker colors and show like pepper spots in the water. Dry fly fishing really picks up in the evenings with caddis, sedge, and mice patterns. Spin fishing can be exceptional. Pods of fish and fishing along structure is exceptional.
September – The lake is usually very clear and sight-fishing throughout the lake is at its peak in September. Pods of fish are strong and spotting along structure can be amazing. Dry fly fishing continues in the evening through late Sept. Some of the largest trout of the year are caught during this time. Spectacular fall colors of brook trout are at their peak.
October – Sight-fishing continues strong for fly/spin fishers. The water is gin clear and the fall colors are amazing in the autumn sun. Spawning occurs late October into November.
What are the daily fish limits?
All guests of Fortress Lake Retreat are Catch and Release. Replica mounts are available and good photos are available of your catch. We do periodically serve a fish or two for guests to have a taste.
We have 14 and 12 foot aluminum boats for you to use. Boats are used to travel to anchoring locations as anchoring and fan-casting is – by far – the most effective fishing method. Guests using power boats are required to adhere to our boat use policy and appreciate the cost of motor repair/maintenance should you drive recklessly or cause serious damage as we fly all fuel/supplies in to this remote location.