If you are looking for a great fight you must try your luck at going toe to toe with a Bull Trout from the rivers of the British Columbia Rockies! This summer I was introduced to fishing the Bull River and Elk River in BC’s South Eastern Kootenay Mountains. I never knew that a trout could fight so hard until I hooked my first Bully!
These fish are a very aggressive and feed mostly on other small fish such as Kokanee and small trout fry. The BC Rockies provide an excellent habitat for these fish as they prefer waters that have a temperature below 55o F and these Rocky Mountains have no shortage of cooler waters. Bull Trout prefer habitat that provide clean gravel beds, deep cooler pools and complex cover such as fallen trees or snags. These areas provide excellent cover for the Bull Trout to ambush their food source.
Bull Trout can be either migratory, moving through out river systems, large lakes and even in the ocean in some areas; or they may remain resident, remaining in the same river/stream their entire lives. The migratory Bull Trout tend to grow much larger than the resident ones; reaching sizes up to 30+ lbs where as a resident Bull Trout usually average between 2 to 3lbs.
I find the best time to fish for these Bull Trout is in the fall when the Kokanee are spawning the river systems. This is when the larger migratory fish move in to feed! My preferred method of fishing these fish is by casting a Buck Tail with red/white or purple/white/brown colour patterns. These patterns mimic spawning Kokanee very well. I target deep pool areas that have current at the top of the pool with any sort of structure, whether it is boulders or fallen debris. Work the buck tail up the current if possible and over top or along the structure to lure the fish out. It may take a few casts to get the big boy to come out so don’t give up too soon! You’ll know if you get a strike! Some other methods that anglers can use to for these Bull Trout are to cast a plug or spoon. You can work a Buck Tail either by fly fishing or spin casting.
There are numerous Fishing Guiding services in the Kootenay Rocky Mountain areas that can get you on the fish very quickly. If you are unfamiliar with the area a lot of time can be wasted looking for the “honey holes”. Majority of the waters in the Kootenay areas are Classified Waters and require special fishing licenses that can be purchased online.
This year’s experience fighting an 8+ pound Bull Trout from the Bull River in Cranbrook is one that I will always remember! Hands down Bull Trout fishing is one of my most favourite types of fishing! Get out there and give it a try!
Good luck and tight lines!