Nestled between the Selkirk Mountains at the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers lies an anglers dream community, Castlegar BC. This West Kootenay gem is home to the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America, the Columbia River. The Columbia River’s headwaters start deep within the Rocky Mountain of British Columbia; it flows south into Washington state and as far as Oregon. The river is over 2000kms long and lastly empties into the Pacific Ocean west of Portland.
Even though the Columbia River is vast in size you don’t have to travel far from Castlegar to find the hotspots! In fact, one of the best spots for winter Rainbow Trout fishing is located within the city limits of Castlegar. Located downstream of the mouth of Pass Creek, between the Robson bridge and the old CPR bridge you can definitely get yourself into some good fishing action! This area of the river is best fished pre-spawn in the winter months of January and February. (When fishing this area you need to be aware of the in-season regulation changes as this part of the river does have closures. Barbless hooks ONLY on the Columbia River. Always check the Fresh Water Fishing Regulations before going out.)
One of the most effective approaches to fish this stretch of river is a bottom bait setup. This is the method of placing the line out into the river and allowing the weight to hold your presentation within the river.
Here is what you need:
- Sensitive Medium Action Rod to feel the lightest of bites
- Three way swivel
- 5/8-1 ounce weight depends on strength of current. Tear drop or drop shot weights work well or (Home made Surgical tubing with 2-3” or solid core led)
- Monofilament Leader line
- Corkies in multiple colours
- Bait of choice: Worms, Roe, Maggots and Marshmallows
- Hook #4 tied on with bait loop or cinch knot for other bait
- Rod holder
- Comfy Chair
How to setup it up:
Tie your main line to the three way swivel. Then tie an approx. 2.5 foot monofilament leader off the middle eye of the swivel. On the leader line add one corky, colour of choice (red and orange are popular colours). Tie your hook onto the end of the leader line. On the bottom eye of the swivel tie another length of line to your weight, approx. 3 feet. The weight will hold on the bottom and the corky will float your bait up. Marshmallow can be threaded over the hook and placed on the leader line between the hook and the corky. This will provide additional attraction for the fish.
When fishing with this bottom setup you want to pay attention to these simple items to help improve your odds to hook a nice Rainbow:
Depth & Fish Activity: Depending on depths of water and fish activity the key is to adjust your lengths of leader and line to weight to find the proven depth pattern. Most big rainbows tend to feed near the bottom of the river, but they do move throughout the water column. If you see the fish jumping and getting close to the surface, adjust your setup so that your bait presentation is higher in the water column. Sometimes the fish will be feeding within inches off bottom so you may have to adjust your presentation very close to the river floor. Remember trout feed upwards!
Current Flow: When observing the water target the current seems and back eddies as this is where the fish will be holding. The slower moving water will also allow your weight to stay secured on bottom without pushing your setup downstream. Placing your presentation near points of structure can also bring success.
Line Tension: Keeping your line from your rod to your weight is crucial in order to set the hook and to sense the bite. The goal is to keep your weight still on the bottom and allow the corky to float your presentation up off the bottom. Once your weight comes to a halt, reel in all the slack from your line and place your rod in the rod holder. Watch the tip of the rod, the bites are subtle. Wait for the solid bite and then set the hook. Keep your rod tip up and your drag set to allow the fish to run. Finesse the fish in!
When you’re getting tired of snowshoeing to frozen lakes, using augers to drill your holes take a drive down to Castlegar BC and test your skills against these beauty bows! I’ll tell ya right now, bottom setup fishing for these Rainbows is a treat and a challenge! I’d like to thank one of BC Fishn’s new local friends Stepan for taking us out to one of the hotspots on the Columbia!