The Bull River truly has it all for the angler looking to experience the best of what a world-class river fishery can offer. Located just south-east of Cranbrook, this stunning waterway is a tributary of the Kootenay river and offers incredible views along its 100 plus kilometers of shoreline as it is springs off of the Hugh Range of the Canadian Rockies. There are countless times when one will simply stop in awe of the beauty of this landscape, mostly untouched due to limited access. But if you are willing to put in your time and maybe get your boots a little dirty along the way; then there is some top notch fishing to be had in some very low pressure areas! The Bull is a fast flowing, mid-size river and this glacier fed stream runs a beautiful teal-aqua colour that is home to excellent fishing for both Bull Trout and Cutthroat Trout.
The lower Bull is the place to go if you’re looking to hook into some beautiful Bull Trout, particularly in the late August to September time frame as we did. This river features many steep canyons and pools to fish where you just may find yourself in one of the most rewarding fights of your angling life.
This past August the BCFishn team was lucky enough to find just that. With lots of sunlight we were looking to target pools following sections of rapids, particularly around boulders which provide excellent structure for the Bull Trout. Using a combination of Bucktails from Mountain Man Outdoors and spoons (both the top notch Gibbs sterling silver Ironhead and different varieties of the Williams Wabler) we hoped to provide an enticing presentation for some of those beautiful Bullies…and on just the third cast of the day, Danny hooked into a true beauty. As suggested, this monster was hiding behind a boulder, in a pool just downstream of a rapids section. To hear Danny shout “Fish on!” in just a few moments was surprising enough, but to then catch a glimpse of the beautiful fish as it began to run was another thing altogether. If you have never tangled with a Bull trout then you are in for a respect-inspiring experience; these fish tend not to jump and will dive hard and fast, finding structure and currents. Then just when you think you’ve finally tired him out and the battle is over, he dives and sends your reel screaming once again! After a pass of the rod and several long minutes of give and take we were looking at a gorgeous Bull Trout just a shade under 14 pounds! We all felt more than a little thankful to go a round or two with him and somehow have come out on top. It was great to take a few pictures and then send him on his way, and it may have just been us, but there was a nice feeling of mutual respect as he swam off to fight again another day.
Just about anything would be anti-climactic after a fish like that, but the upper Bull River was there to offer some very rewarding Cutthroat fishing as well. Typically the best time would be in the July to August time frame, and while these Westslope Cutthroat are slightly smaller than the ones found in the Elk River, they do range from about 11 to 15 inches. The best success of the day was found with the dry fly. Mayflies, Caddis, Royal Coachmans, and Adams flies all produce well on this river. It should be noted that this river offers top-notch opportunities for drift fishing. If this sounds to your liking, then BCFishn definitely recommends a guided fish at the experienced and
capable hands of St. Mary’s Anglers Guiding Service. Before heading out onto the Bull River be sure to check the BC Fishing Regulations as this river has multiple regulations, including classified waters.
If you have any further questions about the Bull River please feel free to contact us. Don’t forget to share your pictures and stories on the BCFishn Facebook page.
“There will be days when fishing is better than one’s most optimistic forecast, others when it’s far worse. Either is a gain over just stayinh home” – Roderick Haig-Brown