The peeling lines of winter on Kootenay Lake

It’s been a fun winter full of big fish.

Coral Booty of Invermere with a Giant Dolly Varden (bull trout).

Coral Booty of Invermere with a Giant Dolly Varden (bull trout).

It’s been a fun winter full of big fish.

Typically the colder water means less fish. And that has been true throughout January and February. Although the trade off has been worth it. The fish that are being caught are generally the largest fish we catch all year.

February produced big rainbows, the largest being a 26 lb monster. We also saw lots of 15 to 20 lb fish being caught. So, if you might only catch one fish in the day, the reward is usually worth it. In saying that, there have also been some really good days with more than 10 fish being caught. I guess it’s the same old thing. One day is hot and the next is cold. That’s fishing. But you definitely can’t catch fish from the couch. So, let’s get out there.

Our last trip out saw some good fish come in. The day started when we left the dock at 9 a.m. After a couple hours of trolling around with nothing, we began to wonder if it was going to happen that day. “No worries,” I said, as it’s usually just a matter of timing. So we continued to troll for another hour with nothing. It was time to light the barbecue and get ready for lunch. You can guess what happens next.

That’s right, fish on! After a short battle, we land a nice 11 lb rainbow. It’s a beautiful male that’s already showing its spawning colours. So, after a few photos, we release him. It will be nice to see him up the river this spring. Back to fishing and a hot lunch. Only about five minutes go by and the line starts peeling again. So much for eating my lunch.

After another short fight, we land a nice eight lb dolly. A couple pictures and back it goes. Another 10 minutes go by and the line releases from the planer board. Another good rainbow on. This one took a little longer to bring in, but after a great battle, we get some photos and a weight on this beauty. Another 11 lb rainbow. Bright and silver was this amazing fish. Back in the water she goes.

This action continued for over two hours straight. We landed a couple more rainbows up to 14 lbs that day and also two more dollies. So, what started out to be a slow morning sure finished with a bang. That’s why I always tell people to put in your time. Stick it out because the bite does happen. Sometimes it only lasts an hour, but if you’re not there, you won’t catch them.

What are they biting?

It’s that time of year. We are mostly slow trolling with our favorite Lyman plugs and our Bill Norman crankbaits. Colours are different each day, but the usual winter colors are producing most fish. Purples and black  and whites are working well right now with the Billies.

On the sunny days, I’ve been using greens and blues. My favorite Lyman’s lately have been the #10, 60, 100, 135, and lucky #160.

We’ve still managed a few good fish on bucktails. There have been a few rough days on the water lately and I’ve dragged the flies for a while. Did manage a nice 21 lb rainbow on the November Special just a week or so ago.

Also getting rainbows and dollies on the downriggers. Fishing depths from 100 to 180 ft at this time of year. Flashers with hoochie are working well.

Latest Projects on Kootenay Lake

BC Hydro has started the Kootenay Lake Creel Census. You may have noticed on certain days there are people waiting at the dock or boat launch when you get in. Also if you notice a low flying airplane, don’t be alarmed. They are just counting boats. They are collecting information on size of fish being caught, catch rates, and the amount of time that anglers are spending on Kootenay Lake. This information will help with management of our resources. So, if you see them on the dock, feel free to share some information. Samples of your catch are also appreciated (scale samples, size and weight of fish).

Also, still going on is our tagging program. Keep your eyes open for any tagged fish. Some of these fish have a reward tag attached to the dorsal. If you catch a tagged fish you can cut the tag off to claim your reward. You may then release the fish or choose to keep it. But, either way if you can get length and weight of the fish, that will help us determine how well the fish are growing and how healthy our population is.

Tight lines…

Kerry Reed is the owner of Reel Adventures Fishing Charters in Nelson. He can be reached at 250-505-4963.