Valley Firearms is not just a gun store, it is much more.
The Bay Avenue store in downtown Trail is diversifying and offers a wide and growing selection of fishing gear and outdoor equipment.
“We are trying to encourage people that we have more than our name says,” said owner John Urquhart Jr. “Fishing and even a little bit more in the camping world.”
On the heels of new federal gun legislation, Valley Firearms was forced to downsize its firearms inventory, and although the store still offers a vast selection of guns, ammo, and optics, Urquhart recognized the need to diversify.
When he met Sue Friesen, he knew he found the answer.
“Sue has been instrumental in it,” said Urquhart. “She has 30 years of experience and knowledge in the fishing industry so if you need something found, she is the one who can find it.”
Friesen worked for more than two decades for Berry’s Bait and Tackle in Richmond, renowned on the west coast as the best privately owned fishing supply shop in B.C.
Sue played a big part in its growth and her customer service expertise brought her into contact with John Sr. from Valley Firearms.
A well-known local fisherman and fly tyer had asked Urquhart if he could bring in some Jungle Cock, a popular type of feather used for fly tying.
John Sr. thought they were being pranked and called Berry’s and asked Sue if they “carry something called Jungle Cock?’”
“I said yes we do, we’re actually out of stock, but we carry it,” said Friesen.
“You’re kidding, you mean there is actually such as thing?” asked an amazed Urquhart.
They started talking and Sue liked the sound of the West Kootenay weather and the idea of living in a slower paced, smaller town. Soon she and her husband were on the move to Montrose.
“We started looking for a house, and one just fell in our lap, it was like Kismet,” said Friesen. “I got sick and tired of the city. I look out my living room window now and I have a view of the mountains and the Columbia River, in the city I had graffiti, pollution and crime.”
Since Friesen’s arrival last year, the fishing inventory is now considerable and growing. There are a variety of rods, reels, lures, artificial bait, lines, weights, flies, and fly-tying materials, not to mention a fridge filled with the best live bait in the West Kootenay that includes roe, krill, single eggs, and worms.
Friesen keeps a worm farm going in the back of the store and changes the dirt almost monthly.
“Worms are a big thing,” said Sue. “I personally change the dirt, and we brought the last bunch in last month so in another two weeks, I’ll check them and if I see they are not active enough, I’ll change the dirt.
“We get organic dirt so there is lots of nutrients for them, and I swear they are still growing in the dirt, because they are bigger than they were when I put them in there.”
The increase in fishing supplies is impressive and the store continues to adapt to local fishing opportunities that are unique to the Trail area.
“We have fly rods, spincasters, baitcasters and we are trying to get more stuff in as far as bass and pike fishing, because that’s a new fishery in the area, so we need to learn how to fish the different species,” said John Jr.
Brent Laface is a local fly tyer who ties exclusively for Valley Firearms. He offers several flies specific to the area including nymph and adult versions of the Salmon Fly pattern, which hatches in spring and is a popular fly for Columbia River anglers.
In addition, for those fishing for kokanee in the Arrow Lakes or the Columbia River below Keenleyside Dam, check out what Valley Firearms has instore.
“We have some of the newest and different flashers, kokanee specific wedding rings and tackle, sourced from right here in BC,” added Urquhart. “We’re trying to diversify and trying to have more BC products specific for our fisheries.”
Anglers, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts can also visit and order from their impressive website at vfirearms.com, and if it’s not there, ask Sue.
“If we don’t have it, come talk to me, and if we can find it, we can get it.”