Trail angler Marliese Mauro caught this beautiful rainbow on the Arrow Lake last week.

West Kootenay Fishing Report: Prime time for fishing local lakes

Troll for nice rainbows on Arrow and Kootenay lakes, or try chironomids on your smaller waters

West Kootenay Fishing Report is submitted by Kerry Reed of Reel Adventure Sport Fishing Charters. Call 250-505-4963 or go to

While it is currently our favourite time of year for fishing in the Kootenays, it’s not quite the same not being able to share the excitement with guests.

However, we will continue to bring you the latest reports, as we are still spending lots of time on the local waters and the fish are still biting.

Rest assured, when this is all over, we are ready and willing to take you fishing! (with new protocols in order)

Kootenay Lake: The water temperature is almost to that magic number and the fish are definitely starting to come alive. We’ve had some crazy days with more than 25 fish hitting the lures, and some days with fewer. But the fishing seems to be more consistent every day. Average days have been more like 12 to 15 fish throughout the day.

Rainbows between 2 – 4 pounds are regular occurrence, although some fat ones have been coming in lately up to 6 pounds. And the bull trout are starting to pick up a bit as well. Bulls between 2–8 pounds have been caught lately.

Most of our fish are coming in on the surface, but we’re still getting the odd one on the down riggers.

In these crazy times of not being allowed to work and having the kids home everyday, we’ve had lots of opportunity to spend time on the boat. The kids are definitely getting the hang of things. Good to have a couple apprentices with us each day. I guess there’s always a silver lining to everything.

Related read: West Kootenay Fishing Report: Water warming, fish biting

Arrow Lakes: Kokanee fishing has been fast and furious on Arrow. Once anglers locate the kokanee, be prepared for non-stop action.

Anglers also reported some nice Gerrard rainbows between 4 and 8 pounds being caught near the surface with a relatively slow troll, while bull trout are coming in up to 14 pounds but are a little deeper and are coming off downriggers 40 to 100 feet.

Columbia River: The river has been amazing fishing this spring. With the water remaining so low for so long, it was a treat every day getting out and finding the fish congregated in certain areas. Some days they were in the faster shallow water, and some days in the deeper holes. It made for some great experimenting.

Most of April was consistent water flows and levels, and the fishing remained good. However, now the river is rising and things are changing fast. We will begin to find fish in different places than they used to be, but that’s all part of the pursuit.

The usual rainbows between 16 – 20 inches were pretty standard throughout April. Although, some hogs were also hooked in the past couple weeks. Biggest rainbow we’ve managed to hook in the last little while was around 6 pounds, but we’ve heard reports of 8-plus pounders being caught as well.

Such an amazing fishery in our backyard.

Area Lakes: Smaller West Kootenay lakes like Rosebud, Cottonwood, and Summit Lakes offer great fishing this time of year. Chironomid fishing is most popular at this time, but trolling or casting a sink line with nymph, woolly bugger or other attractor patterns will also pay off.

What are they biting on?

On Kootenay and Arrow, it’s been mostly surface fishing. The rainbows are really starting to come alive and are aggressively hitting the bucktails on top, as well as some of our small spoons. Lux Flies #10, 15, 21, 26, & 33 have been our best producers lately. And our favourite spoons are still the Gibbs/Delta croc in Brass/Firestripe which have been consistent on bright or dark days.

The water temperature is still below 50 degrees, so our trolling speeds have remained a bit slower. Our magic speed has been 2.4 mph, although things will speed up as the water temperature warms up.

As far as the bull trout go, it’s been the usual Gibbs/Delta flasher & hoochie combo that’s been best for us. Popular depths of 75-to-111 ft. have been best for us. We stick to the greens and yellows for bull trout. The Oki Big Shooter flasher in green/yellow mist has been our favourite or the Gibbs Lemon Lime followed by the yamashita green spatter back hoochie.

And on the river, it’s been amazing fly fishing. Floating lines with an indicator and nymph has been most productive for us, although the full sinking line with the Columbia River bugger or the bulldog have been working well in some of the tail outs too.

We’ve managed to get a few days of Walleye fishing in as well. And the spring Walleye have been fairly cooperative. Our favourite technique has been slow trolling with a bottom bouncer and a worm. The Gibbs/Delta bling blade in chartreuse color has been most consistent for us.

Prime temperatures for both the lake and the river should be reached in May, so stay tuned for some awesome fishing.

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