Angler Kerry Reed landed this nice November bull trout on Kootenay Lake. Photo: Submitted

Angler Kerry Reed landed this nice November bull trout on Kootenay Lake. Photo: Submitted

West Kootenay Fishing Report: The bite is on

A drop in water temperature means rainbows are coming to the surface

Well, here we go … Winter is on it’s way!

We watched the snow line drop while we were on the water yesterday, and we woke up to some snow on the ground today.

With the temperatures dropping and the snow starting to fly, we are finally seeing our water temperature drop. It has now hit the magic numbers and we should see the fish becoming more and more aggressive.

Some of our crew was lucky enough to head down south and fish the great Pend Oreille Lake the past couple weeks. What a nice surprise to see a lot of our old clients and friends down there. Lots of BC, AB, WA, OR, friends who used to come here to fish. A nice treat to be able to hear some screaming reels again.

There was a fair number of large rainbows caught this past weekend, with a lot of 20-plus pounders. And so far this week, there’s been a few up to 22 pounds to start the fall derby. The lake is busy and the towns are bustling. What a great economic boost. A great reminder of how things used to be here on Kootenay Lake.

As for now, we are back on Kootenay Lake for our fall/winter fishery and here’s the latest report:

Kootenay Lake:

The water temperature has dropped below 55 degrees and lately below 50 and the fish are coming to the top. We did have a couple weeks of great bull trout fishing as they returned to the lake, but now that the temperature has dropped, we are seeing more rainbows on the surface.

The bull trout have been pretty decent sized as they seem to be finding some food. Bulls up to 10 Lbs have been caught lately and rainbows up to 7 pounds.

Our last outing managed to land six rainbows and a couple bull trout throughout the day. Rainbows were the usual 2 -3 pounds and the bulls were 5–6 pounds.

The day started off with a bang. First fish to the boat in the first 10 minutes. Then another strike. Then 1 more rainbow and it slowed down.

For the next three hours, we played cards and listened to music. It’s funny, when the fish turn off, they turn off. Not a bite for three hours, but then it all started again.

Early afternoon the bite turned on, with a couple double headers and then a few more fish. It seemed like the frenzy lasted a long time, but it was only about an hour and a half. During that magic time frame we managed to land another six fish and lost a few as well.

That’s the norm on Kootenay Lake. There always seems to be a morning bite and an afternoon bite. So, if you can spend the whole day on the water, you will be rewarded.

This past week has seem some strong winds and very cold weather. This can turn the fish off for a few days, and so can the full moon.

We did notice the slower fishing for a few days, but things seem to be getting back on track again.

Looking forward to what the rest of November and December have to offer.

Columbia River: Brave souls are getting rewarded as the cooler weather descends on the West Kootenay.

On the Columbia, anglers have been catching rainbows on spinners and spoons, and fly fishers on woolly buggers and leech patterns tied onto a sink tip or full sink line.

The action may not be fast and furious, but the quality and number of larger fish seems to improve in winter.

October made for excellent fall rainbow fishing with the warm weather and October caddis fluttering about. Fish were caught on the surface replicating the caddis pattern, and below on nymphs and emerger patterns.

Spincasters also had a lot of luck using their favourite spinner for rainbows, while, the walleye were still biting on fly fishers’ egg-sucking leech patterns, or, for the angler, the tried and true jigheads with rubber twister tails tipped with worm.

Arrow Lake: Anglers success rates can be hit and miss, but October, November, and December fishing for big bull trout and rainbow is generally good.

Anglers have had luck slow trolling for bull trout and rainbows lately, with some of the bigger bull trout coming in at 10-pounds and more.

With the Arrow Lake’s cooling water temperature, anglers are trolling between 2.5 and 3 mph, and have had the best luck pulling Lyman and Tomic plugs at 90 feet and more.

What are they biting on?

It’s been a mixed bag. Lately, we are starting to get them on bucktails. But, up until now, it’s been an assortment of plugs, flies, and spoons.

For the rainbows, the lucky bucktails have been the #207, 210, 226. And the magic spoons have been the Gibbs Crocs or Skinny ‘G’. Favourite colors have been the brass/fire stripe, the Outfitter, and the No Bananas.

Also, try trolling Bulletproof spoons made by Anarchy Fishing products out of Vernon, BC. They have worked great on both rainbows and bull trout on local waters.

For the bull trout, we’ve been catching most on the Gibbs STS flasher with a green spatterback hoochie. Also getting some on the green pistachio and the oil slick. The most consistent depths for us lately has been between 121′ – 153′.

Water temp is cooling, but our trolling speeds are picking up. Best speeds for us have been between 2.7 and 3.2 mph.

The West Kootenay Fishing Report is submitted by Kerry Reed of Reel Adventure Sportfishing Charters. Call Kerry at 250-505-4963 to book your trip or go to

Read: West Kootenay Fishing Report: Winter on the water

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