One species of fish that is growing in popularity for anglers is the Bull Trout. These fish can be found in waters all throughout BC. But one area that is exploding in reputation for some of the best Bull Trout fishing in North America is the East Kootenays.
Bull Trout offer an aggressive fight like no other! Unlike a Rainbow Trout, these fish don’t jump out of the water much when hooked. They dive fast and furious! If there is a current or structure in the water this fish will find it! Just as you think the fish has tired and ready to be brought in, it will take a few more runs on you.
Due to Bull Trout preferring colder water temperatures (most comfortable at 13 degrees C) the East Kootenay area provides much habitat for these stunning fish. Some of the most popular rivers in the East Kootenays that are good Bull Trout fishing are: Bull River, Kootenay River, Wigwam River and the Elk River.
When fishing for these fish in the hotter months it is vital to carefully land the fish as fast and as safe as you can without over exerting it. Mid day fishing when the sun is at its hottest is not a good time of day to be targeting these fish as they are very sensitive to temperature changes. You will also find that the fishing is not very good as well as the fish are less active.
This past summer the BCFishn.com team set out on an excursion of the Elk River, just south of Fernie BC. The early summer months this year (2012) were much colder than usual in the Kootenays which made it good fishing. (Temps averaging 19-22 degrees)
We targeted large pools just below the white water section on the Lower Elk River. Due to the sunny skies we knew that the fish were most likely going to be in deep pools hiding under structure. We started our days early just as the sun came up over the hills. We found the most producing time was around 10am.
Our approach was both fly and gear fishing. Fly choices consisted of large bright purple and white streamer patterns with fast sinking tip line to get the presentation near the bottom. The fish weren’t that active and not a lot of fellow anglers on the river were having success on the fly so we concentrated our efforts on spoon and buck tail jig fishing. “My favourite!”
Ryan hooked into the first fish of the day, a nice 3 pounder that took the Iron Head Silver spoon. Right there we knew we were going to have a good day of fishing! The fish were averaging in good size throughout the morning and due to the high run off waters this spring these fish had a lot of fight in them! The fish were averaging in size from 2 to 4 pounds. It was awesome to watch some of these fish take runs to strike the lure as far as 15 feet! Due to the water levels still be very high we had a lot of submerged structure to target. The water was so cold that you could barely stand in the water for 10 seconds without your waders! Perfect Bull Trout conditions!
I thought I was doing well catching some bigger fish around 4 pounds and catching 4 to every 1 fish of my fishing buddy Greg. Nothing like a little bit of friendly competition while fishing! Greg started to make comments about the horseshoe that must be firmly planted you know where! Then is happened, Greg yells out “FISH ON BOYS” I looked up to see Greg’s drag on his reel spinning out of control! It was a big one! The fish darted directly for the fast current and started to head down river in a hurry! That didn’t stop Greg! He jumped from one big boulder to another down river until he was able to bring the fish into a slower pool. I finally caught up to Greg, his smile on his face told it all! “Dan, get the camera, this is going to be a quick pic and back in the water for this big boy!” He gracefully lifted the fish out of the cradle and held it up for the photo opp. Greg finally got his 10 pound Bull Trout! After a few quick pictures Greg released the beauty for another day. I said to Greg “Well my friend, chalk one up on the board because that fish just made this trip” On that note we left another great day of fishing the lower Elk River and I bought the first round at the Bull River Inn!
Our lures of choice that we used for this trip were:
Gibbs Iron Head that is Silver Plated: We use these spoons for faster deeper waters as the spoon is heavy and gets to the bottom in faster current. Retrieve of this spoon is usually a bit faster than your traditional spoon. Due to the silver plating on the spoon it provides a very bright flash that travels through a longer distance of water. This helps to increase the strike zone and works excellent in muddier waters. I would like to thank Vic from STS Guiding for the tip on this spoon!
Williams Wablers Silver or Gold: The good old wabler always prevails on the slowest days of fishing! This spoon works well in shallower slower moving water. The retrieve can be a slower one and the spoon still makes a lot of action.
Bucktails & Bucktail Jigs: One lure that is very popular in the Kootenays and is used by a lot of the locals is the bucktail on a jig head. They come in many sizes, but the 2 most useful ones to have are the 3/8 and 1/2 ounce jigs. A good place to find these lures is at Mountain Man Outdoors in Cranbrook on Baker Street. The popular colours in the spring and summer seem to be purple/white, blue/white and all white. As fall starts to approach and the Kokanee start to run I recommend using red and white. The way to fish these lures is by casting like a spoon but try to keep just off bottom. Target structure and get your jig beneath large boulders, trees and eddies. The larger Bullies will be sitting near the bottom just below structure or directly in front of it waiting for food to come down river. This is where you want to present your lure.
The main area of the Lower Elk that we fished was from the Elk River Bridge on Hwy 93, south of Jaffray, up to the start of the white water section of the river. For directions please feel free to email us and we will be happy to help out! Or when visiting the East Kootenays; stop in at Mountain Man Outdoors in Cranbrook or the Kootenay Fly Shop in Fernie as the locals are always willing to help you discover your perfect day of fishing in the East Kootenay Rockies!
Tight lines & Conserve Our Waters!
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