COLUMN: Kootenay rivers teeming with bull trout

Kootenay Lake, the Kootenay River, and the Columbia all provided some great moments in October for our fishing columnist Kerry Reed.

Local fishers enjoyed fine weather and lots of biting fish last month

October was a great month for weather and the fishing was good too. We fished both the East and West Kootenays in order to keep busy. And both regions had their moments.

The rivers in both regions were teeming with bull trout. And this is the time of year to target the giant bulls. We had a few great days targeting these big fish throughout the month. Using both techniques of fly fishing or spin casting we managed to hook bulls between six and 16 pounds throughout October. A lot of these big fish will remain in the Kootenay River throughout the winter, as there seems to be more food for them to choose from. So, we will continue to make the odd trip over and keep everyone posted of the conditions.

Kootenay Lake

October was a pretty good month for fishing the lake as well. There seems to be still a lot of rainbows between two and four pounds feeding. And we have been catching more and more bull trout as they slowly return to the lake. Most bulls have been between two and five pounds, with a few up to 10 pounds lately. The smaller rainbows are usually fairly aggressive until the water cools down, so expect lots of action for the next little while. And, normally when the water cools down, the bigger fish start to feed. It remains to be seen what this fall/winter will bring us, but I expect to see a lot of bull trout caught and hopefully a few big rainbows still around to catch.

Either way, it’s still a beautiful background to be fishing in. So, we’ll be out there as much as we can.

Columbia River

The Columbia has produced some beautiful fish in the past few weeks. Rainbows up to seven pounds have been caught lately, with lots of the usual two to four pound fish to make up the balance. This is a great year round fishery and if the weather cooperates, we plan on spending a lot of days on the river throughout this winter. Both fly fishing and spin casting have been producing well for us lately. Looking forward to the next little while.

What are they biting on?

On the lake we have been catching most rainbows on the surface on bucktail flies or spoons. There also seems to be a lot of rainbows hanging around the depths with the bull trout. So, experimenting with the down riggers has been key. Lots of bull trout lately on the usual flasher/hoochie combo, as well as our lyman plugs. Common depths have been between 100 and 150 feet (30 to 45 m).

On the rivers, we have had best luck for the big bulls using large streamer patterns, sculpins, or rabbit tail flies. Spoons have also worked well for the bulls. And on the Columbia, we have been having our best luck on wooly buggers, or nymphs on a sinking line. Also using spinning rods with the usual three-way bottom rig has been working well. Look for back eddies or current seams to find the fish.

All in all I think it’s shaping up to be a good winter for fishing. We will just have to travel a bit more to find the good fishing. Tight lines

Kerry Reed of Reel Adventures Sportfishing writes here once a month.