The East Kootenays in British Columbia is home to some of the best river Bull Trout fishing in the world! A 200km stretch around highway 3 between Cranbrook and Elkford hosts the Kootenay River, Bull River, Elk River and the Wigwam River. All of these tributaries provide an excellent fishing experience for Bull Trout.
This summer I had the privilege of taking in some of this Bull Trout action. August and September can be some of the best times to approach these Bull Trout in the river system due to water levels. Even in the hot August sun with 30 degree weather the gin clear water ranged from 10 degrees to 15 degrees Celsius; perfect condition for Bull Trout.
The main approach that we used to catch these beauties was with large Bucktails on spinning rods and Streamer Flies on the fly rods. Large silver/gold spoons worked very well too. As fall nears the Kokanee start to run up the rivers from Lake Koocanusa and turn red; this is the perfect time to use red/white patterns.
We targeted these fish in pools just below rapids that had gravel or rocky beds. The fish also like to hide out under any overhanging structure, under large boulders and logs in the water. In faster waterways working the current seams worked well too in the early morning. The Bull Trout like colder waters and that is why they will migrate to cold mountain headwaters such as the Wigwam River.
The rivers that produced best for us this August were the Bull River and the Elk River. The Bull River we fished mainly the lower half from the Aberfeldie Dam to just short of the mouth of the Kootenay River. The pools below the bridge on the Wardner-Fort Steele Rd Bridge also produced well.
The Elk River was amazing non-stop action! Between dry fly action for Cutthroat Trout and Bull Trout averaging 3 to 4 pounds, this river provides amazing world class fishing that the local anglers boasts about! The area of the Elk that we fished was mainly below the Elko Dam as the dam can present as a barrier for the bigger Bull Trout. The canyon pools below the white water rafting region produced very well in all times of the day. The Backroads Map Book can offer assistance on how to get to these pools.
The BCFISHN team plans on visiting the East Kootenay Region again before the 2011 season ends to take in some fall Bull Trout action. Stay tuned on BCFISHN.com for our updates. These waters are Classified Waters II so don’t forget to purchase your special fishing license if you plan on visiting this region. There are numerous regulations for these rivers so be sure to check the BC fishing regulations before heading out. Some areas are catch and release only, but I do recommend conserving all of these waters for the future. If you are looking for more information regarding fishing Bull Trout in the East Kootenays please feel free to contact us.
Good Luck and Tight Lines!