The West Kootenay Fishing Report is a supplement appearing every second Thursday of the month, intended to inform and help locals and visitors enjoy the wonderful natural resource available to us all. Send a hot tip, photo, or report to email@example.com.
The Columbia River:
Fly fishing the Columbia River in February? Some will think you’re crazy but if the weather permits you can have success.
The fish have to eat to survive so with the right fly and fished in the right water you have a fighting chance to catch a fish with ‘fly’. Being winter there is very little chance of a dry-fly opportunity to happen, so the other option is to fish a wet fly.
Hot Flies: Sunken streamer, nymph, pupa? I would try a fly like a bead head prince nymph, a bead head olive woolly bugger or a San Juan worm.
Technique: All are fished in moving water with sinking fly lines cast up stream 45 degrees allowed to sink near bottom and held to swing accross till it hangs straight downstream before the retrieve. Water depth should be four to 10 feet deep.
The San Juan worm could be the ticket as chironomids and blood worms are present and always moving and hatching even in the winter months. This pattern will always be of interest to fish when all other bugs hunker down for the cold months these seem to continue on their life cycle mid winter.
I like the red color for the fly as it triggers fish to strike when other colors are passed. I do like to tie it bigger than the natural so, if tying, I will use a size 8 or 10 curved-nymph hook.
Hook – C63S mustad size 10 or 8
Thread – 6/0 uni black or brown
Tail – red floss
Body – red micro pearl chenile
Frontal wing – red floss
Submitted by avid fly fisherman and fly tyer, Rod Zavaduk, owner of Castlegar Sports and Fly Shop.
Kootenay Lake’s Top 40:
Fishing through January has been generally good. The Bill Norman plugs have probably been the best bet, water temp is around 39 degrees so all the slow stuff is the way to go.
When the water temp is this cold the fish tend to hang in the top 40 feet or so and this is where the Billies shine.
Technique: They are pulled at approximately 1.8 mph and we modify them to run a little differently, to be able to handle the large Gerard rainbows without being torn apart.
Hot Lure: Color is still very important. The Black Splat, black/chrome, blue/chrome rainbow trout, and the sour grape have been doing well.
As in the case of most lures some will work better than others so keep track of which ones they are, what the conditions are and the speed used on that day.
The Bill Norman plugs are good for both rainbows and Dollies and could produce a 17-pound Dolly like the one Ron M. got on a Splitshot Charter in January or the 20-pound rainbow Mike B. got this weekend.
Kootenay Lake Report is provided by Randy Zelonka, owner of Gill and Gift in Balfour, home to a great selection of flies, lures, fishing supplies, tips and more, go to gillandgift.com
Arrow Lakes: “The fishing has been awesome,” said Scotties Marina’s Debbie Imeson. “There are Dollies and rainbows coming in steady.”
A fish finder is a great accessory to have because anglers are targeting fish based on sightings and depths seen on the finder.
Hot Lure: Anglers are having good success on hootchies and flashers.
With settled temperatures, some of the larger fish brought in are a 20-pound Dolly, and 15 and 13-pound Gerard rainbows.
Hot Spot: Trolling from Broadwater and back but boats have also had success in the narrows.
Scotties Marina on Lower Arrow offers all fishing and boating supplies, licences, groceries, gas and moorage. See scottiesmarina.com for more info.
With the February full moon shining brightly overhead, I began thinking about how the moon affects an angler’s ability to catch fish on West Kootenay lakes and streams.
Most anglers and hunters are familiar with the solunar tables but studies actually show that trout feeding increases during days with no moon and is least active when the moon is full. Angling success for rainbow trout on still waters is inversely proportional to the lunar cycle. With a full moon, less fish are caught but increases as the moon phase wanes and with no moon, the morning and evening bites peak, then decrease as it waxes.
Light affects all factors of the food chain such as the way fish see, the way zooplankton, insects and smaller fish feed and a phenomenon known as ‘behavioural drift’ which if you’ve ever experienced it on the river at the right time – it can be transcendent. More on this next month – Tight Lines.