The Elk River is one of the world’s best dry fly fishing rivers. It flows ‘S’ through Elkford, Sparwood & Fernie, then SW into Lake Koocanusa, Kootenay Land District at 220km long. The river offers numerous Sportfishing opportunities with species from greedy and large Cutthroat & Bull trout and White fish.
This August the Kootenay BC FISHN team set out on a drift excursion with our Pontoon boats. We drifted the river and wadded the pools as we encountered them. We worked our skills along under cut banks and runs into pools. There are plenty of runs, log jams, and structure that made us land the pontoons and start wadding. Even though the Elk River is most popular for fly fishing, it can be very productive for gear anglers as well. *Remember this river is Single Barbless Hook ONLY. Check out the BC Fishing Regulations as there are numerous restrictions for the Elk River.
It was an early 5am start to the morning for Team BC FISHN to get out on the water at a decent time! It was my first time on my pontoon on the Elk River. What an experience this was going to be. We left Cranbrook to make our way to Fernie to start this excursion. The boys were talking about where to start the drift. We took out our Backroad Mapbook of SE BC and mapped a plan. We parked the Jeep at the end point at Morrissey Rd to have a ride back to the truck where we were going to drop into the Elk.
We stopped in at the Fernie Fly Shop for Danny to pick up some flies for the trip. This is a great pit stop to load up on dry flies and all your fly fishing needs.
We saw an ideal spot under the Fernie Bridge in town “let’s drop here”. Everyone agreed!! So the team started gearing up and getting the pontoons ready! I was getting anxious to get out there, all of us were!
We started the drift and all of us had a huge smile on. What a beautiful site! Along the way we drift fished and also landed the pontoons to take in some wadding into small runs and pools. The team was speechless as we were just happy to be out there. It was a slow start to the day until we went through the first set of rapids and seen a good pool to try our luck. We had some success catching a few small cutties but nothing too big; all around 14 inches in size. There was lots of activity on the water with guides and vacationers; it was great to see other anglers enjoying themselves as much as we were.
We chatted with a few anglers that said it was a slow day for them also. The fly fishing was on the slower side and the lack of a hatch did not help out. Terrestrial fly patterns were working the best for the fly anglers! We brought in majority of the cutties on small spinners such as Mepps and Martins. The odd fish was hitting the dry fly on the current seams.
Travelling down the Elk we hit some nice small rapids that were fun to go through and a few times we came close to falling trees but we pulled it off. The river was still a little fast at some points so we just sat in our pontoons and fished away waiting for our big catch.
Hydration was the key to keep the energy up; weather of +30 degrees really takes a toll. We had it covered! We also had a break in between to eat and chat, we connected all three pontoons and made a raft and just floated down the shallow waters. We floated down about 14-15kms which made the trip just over 6 hours of drift fishing and wadding.
We were getting to the end of the excursion, water slowed down, just relaxing drift fishing, then Bamm!! I yelled fish on! I casted by a water fall on the side of the bank and something hit hard on the Silver Spoon I was using. Nice 18 inch Cutthroat latched on good. The boys paddled back towards me, Danny asked me if I had one. Little did he know that I was cradling it in the water ready for the picture. We were all happy that finally we got something of decent size. Taking pictures and high fiving! It was a great way to end the journey with a nice Cutthroat on this slow fishing day.
We tied down all three pontoons again, and drifted the last half km to our landing at the Morrissey Bridge. We packed up our gear and headed back towards Cranbrook. We decided to camp out at Horseshoe Lake. The site is located in a valley referred to as the Rocky Mountain Trench on the Wardner Fort Steele Rd. The looming over the campsite was the Steeple Mountains of the Rocky Mountain Range. What a perfect spot for a camp!
This trip was definitely something we will never forget! What a blast it was and many more to come!