Fly fishing for Steelhead on the Thompson

Rivers in Western Canada - Thompson River

How to Get to the Thompson


Getting to the Thompson is not complicated at all. On your way from the South to the North you're bound to drive along the Thompson, whether you come from Seattle or from Vancouver. You take Highway 1 from Vancouver to the town of Lytton, about 260 kms. Lytton is where the Thompson flows into the Fraser River. An alternative route would be to drive to Lillooet from Lytton. You'll have to drive considerably slower than on the road along the Thompson, but the ravishing scenery more than makes up for the time you spend on this road. I recommend it to everyone who is not in too much of a hurry. If you intend to get a closer look at the area around Lillooet, I suggest you do that on your way back, as Lillooet may still have temperatures around 25°C (77°F) when the North starts getting uncomfortably cold.


From Lytton to Spences Bridge are 35 more kms, which will take you right into steelhead country. If you travel by RV, you're fine. If you travel by car, things may get a little complicated. Let's say that accommodation in Spences Bridge requires a certain amount of adaptability. An alternative would be to lodge in Cache Creek which is about 50 kms from Spences Bridge.

bridge in spences bridge
confluence of the nicola into the thompson river

Coming over the bridge from the left (i.e. south) you reach Spences Bridge. The mountain is Spences Bridge's landmark. Looking down from the bridges, you may see incredible numbers of salmon.

The mouth of the Nicola River. Unfortunately it was dirty when this picture was taken. In normal conditions the water downstream of the junction is good for steelhead. Over 90 % of flyfishing on the Thompson is done fishing dries on the swing. If you try nymphing, you're likely to hook salmon carcasses on the bottom on every cast.

perfect steelhead run at the thompson river
unbelievable landscape at the thompson river

The right bank with its groins looks like a top spot for fishing dries. You'd start at the large dark tree at the point and continue down the river, one step after each swing, fanning across the river. In a similar spot I managed to hook six steelhead on dry flies within two hours.

The Thompson River Valley exhibits new sights of extreme beauty after each and every bend. The landscape and vegetation are different from what you can see in Europe. Actually, it is a North American desert and may get quite cold in the morning and evening.


N.B.: The Thompson is classified water, you must get a license for every day you intend to fish here! Sometimes, when salmon runs are feeble, fishing may be closed at short notice. So take care and find out if the stretch you intend to fish is actually open.

Last not least: watch your step wading the Thompson! The boulders on the bottom are so slippery the locals say you'll take a full bath even in knee-deep water. Even without said bath, the Thompson will remain unforgettable. Anyone traveling unaccompanied should be extremely careful. It is not too hard to get yourself drowned in the Thompson, but you should also prepared for unforeseen hazards on the shore. I almost got bitten by a rattler in 2014.


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  • Wolfgang Fabisch
  • Nürnberger Str. 45
  • 90542 Eckental / Germany
  • Phone 011 49 9126 288640
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