The Horsefly River is a pristine mountain river that winds from its headwaters in the Cariboo Mountains, through the village of Horsefly, and down to Horsefly Bay on Quesnel Lake. The scenery is wonderful and includes two waterfalls. Most of the river is navigable and fishermen from all over the world fly fish for rainbow trout. Some of the best fishing experience you can have in BC. Fishing is catch and release only to help enhance and protect the fishery.
The Horsefly River is the second biggest salmon spawning river in the province of British Columbia. Every year the salmon make the journey from the mouth of the Fraser River in Delta, through the Fraser Valley, up the rough Fraser Canyon, on to the Cariboo as far as Quesnel, then they make the turn into the Quesnel River and fight some pretty challenging water up into Quesnel Lake. They swim up to Horsefly Bay and enter the Horsefly River system at that point. There are natural spawning beds all along the river banks. There is a healthy black bear population on the river and you should always be “bear aware” in the natural habitat along the banks of the Horsefly River.
The Department of Fisheries & Oceans has built a spawning channel in the village of Horsefly which has helped dramatically to increase the population in the river. In the natural river the survival rate of the eggs is l0% and in the channels it is 90% because it is a controlled environment. There is an easy walking trail along the channels and a good portion of it is wheelchair accessible.
The headwaters of the Horsefly River is fed by mountain streams from Eureka Peak, McCallum Peak, Caput, Isosceles, Dutchman, Ilahee, Watchman, and
Big Slide Mountains on the north and east sides, and to the south from Boss Mountain and Mount Beisig. Crooked Lake and McKusky river flow into the upper Horsefly River. It is on this section of River that you will find the upper Horsefly River Waterfall, approximately a half hour from Horsefly village. The waterfall is an impressive site, but use great care when walking down the trail to get there. The rocks can be slippery.
Further to the south the interesting chain of Bosk, Cruiser, Elbow, Boscar, and McKinley Lakes become the McKinley Creek and feed into the Horsefly River. After this point the river meanders through the Black Creek Valley. A good portion of the river, in this area, is under the stewardship of The Land Conservancy where some habitat restoration work has taken place. The river flows through a canyon toward Horsefly and there is a small waterfall near the village.
After the Horsefly River winds through Horsefly village, it is joined by Little Horsefly River which is the outflow of Horsefly Lake. There is some lovely scenery in this stretch of the river and many people enjoy it on tubes, canoes, kayaks, etc. Rocky bar is a nice gravelly point to disembark or there is a nice recreation site at Squaw Flats. Find a detailed map of this area because there is some rough water at the “steps” and in the canyon. Then the river makes its way into Horsefly Bay where there is a beautiful estuary with many types of wildlife, and a small campsite. The river valley has wonderful views of the ranches & farms in the area.
You could spend an hour or a week on the Horsefly River and there are experienced guides available in Horsefly to help plan your trip. Contact Linda Bartsch at the Horsefly Board of Trade to find more information. (250) 620-3350