Trail angler Pasquale Amantea reeled in this 14-pound bull trout on Lower Arrow Lake last week. Submitted photo.

West Kootenay Fishing Report: Slow troll on winter water

Winter fishing requires boats to put on the brakes and troll slowly on big water

The West Kootenay Fishing Report is provided by Kerry Reed of Reel Adventure Sport Fishing Charters based out of Nelson. Go to or call 250-505-4963.

Kootenay Lake: December was another good month on the lake. It started out with a bang, and slowed down a bit near the end of the month.

Our early trips saw between 10-15 fish coming to the boat with the average size of rainbows up to four pounds and bull trout up to eight pounds.

One memorable trip was with a boat full of elementary students. The kids were introduced to some great fishing, with each kid hooking into a couple fish, and, in some cases, the student’s first fish or their biggest fish, making it very rewarding for all of us.

It’s always fun sharing our passion with the new anglers, and hopefully getting them a jump-start into their own fishing adventures.

December weather made it pretty easy to be out there. The mild days were very comfortable fishing for our groups, and so far January is continuing with the mild temps, so we look forward to spending a lot of time out there.

Arrow Lakes: Lower Arrow Lake fishing in December heated up and big fish are being caught into January. Last week, Trail angler Pasquale Amantea pulled in a 14-pound bull trout (see photo), one of the bigger bulls caught in the past two months.

With the cold weather, slow trolling seems to be the best bet in attracting big bull trout and rainbows, and you can guarantee to see only one or two other boats on the uncrowded reservoir. But action can be consistent when fishing depths between 60 and 120 feet and boats have been catching up to five trout an outing.

Columbia River: Some mild days made for some fun fishing on the river as well. We managed to get out a few times from shore and were rewarded each time with some great fish.

All rainbows at this time of year for us, and they ranged from two to four pounds.

Lots of fun on the spinning rods, and fly anglers can also reap rewards using sink-tip or full-sink setups with woolly buggers or stonefly nymph patterns, just make sure to have a good set of neoprenes.

January and February usually provide us with some pretty decent fish from the river. Looking forward to more fun times from the shore.

What are they biting on?

Lately, Kootenay has produced rainbows on the surface on bucktail flies and also on some smaller spoons. The usual grey ghost (215) or bleeding gill (210) has been pretty good of late.

The same old spoons have also been producing well: Gibbs/Delta croc spoons have been consistent, and the brass/firestripe or the silver/firewing have been the best producers.

As for bull trout, the usual STS flasher or Lemon Lime guide series flasher with either the green spatter back or the the green pistachio hoochie, or trolling four-inch Lyman plugs has worked well.

On Arrow Lakes, Bill Normans and water dogs are also catching good size trout, and a black-moon-jelly flasher with a cop-car hootchie was the setup that hooked Amantea’s trophy bull trout.

Favourite depths for the bulls have been between 80-to-150 feet on Kootenay and 60-120 feet on Arrow.

The current water temp is around 41 degrees, so that means its time to put on the brakes. Slow down your trolling speed should help produce more fish.

On The Columbia, it has been the usual mix of float-fishing with bait or bottom-bouncing with bait which has produced the most fish.

The fish are holding in the tailouts or back eddies. So, look for the slower water this time of year.

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