Trail’s Lyle McLellan braved the snow and cold to practice his Spey casting on the Columbia River earlier this week. Check out the West Kootenay Fishing Report for more info on winter angling for big trout. Jim Bailey photos.

Large winter bulls and rainbows ring in new year

The West Kootenay Fishing Report is courtesy of Kerry Reed from Reel Adventures Sportfishing

The West Kootenay Fishing Report is submitted by Kerry Reed of Reel Adventure Sportfishing in Nelson; ph. 250-505-4963 or go to

2020 is here, and so are the fish.

Kootenay Lake: December was a good month full of fish and fun and, so far, January has started out great as well.

Most of our days are still consisting of a mix of rainbows and bull trout. Most Rainbows between 2–5 pounds, and bull trout between 2–12 pounds have been coming in. We’ve had a few 20-fish days still as well, so it’s good to see they still put the feed bags on once in a while. It seems like we get a few days of slower fishing when the fish are probably just laying low and digesting, but then we get a few days of feeding frenzy. So, you just have to be out there.

Our best days come when fishing either the northern or the southern portion of the lake. It looks like there’s more food available in those ends and the fish are congregated. Although, our last outing in the central portion of the lake also produced 18–20 fish. Must be just the right place at the right time. That’s fishing.

But we look forward to catching our biggest fish during these winter months. So, stay tuned, as January fishing is just heating up.

Related read: A productive month of lake trolling in West Kootenay

Related read: Rainbow trout fishing picks up on Kootenay Lake

Arrow Lakes: The Arrow just produced a 20-plus pound rainbow trout on the weekend. Although the action is less, the quality is there that will keep people coming back.

Although, we haven’t hit the Arrow recently, we’ve heard of bull trout between 5-and-15 pounds and rainbows between 2-15 pounds, and the latest 20-pounder.

The annual Blue Knuckle Derby takes place this weekend (Jan 18-19) in Nakusp, and should provide us with some good reports to bring back. Good luck to all who will take part in that one.

The Scotties Marina Derby will take place in February, and we look forward to taking part in that one as well. It’s always nice to have a good social event in the middle of winter. Looking forward to that one.

Prime time for the Arrow Lakes is usually January and February, so stay tuned for more reports.

Columbia River: Winter fishing on the river has been pretty good as usual. It’s been all shore fishing lately, but that hasn’t kept the rainbows from biting. Daily catches have been consistent with 2- 4 pound rainbows coming to the shore.

The fish seem to be congregated like they’ve been for the last couple months. So, if you find them, you will do well. There’s been a few crazy days with 10–20 fish caught. Mostly float fishing or bottom fishing has been best.

We’ll continue to pick and choose our days on the river, and hope to see some more warmer, dryer days in the future.

What are they biting on ?

Kootenay Lake rainbows are still feeding on the surface and our favourite bucktail flies have been producing best. The lucky number 203 (November Special), #210 (bleeding gill), and a new one we’ve been trying from our friends south of the border has been working well. The ‘Natural’ from Frisky Jenny has been catching quite a few lately.

When the flies aren’t producing, we’ve had great success on our favorite Gibbs/Delta Croc spoons again. The Gold/fire stripe, and the gold hammered/ firestripe have been our go to spoons on the calm days. The rainbows just can’t seem to resist them.

The bull trout have been coming in mostly on our Gibbs/Delta Lemon lime, STS, and Oki Yellow/green mist flashers paired up with our favourite green spatter back hoochies. Favourite depths on Kootenay have been 101, 121, and 153.

On the river, we have been mostly bottom fishing with our Delta Tackle ‘leader saver’ and our Gibbs/Delta bottom bouncer. Using bait has been the answer.

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