Winter fishing at its best

Introduction to a new feature, the West Kootenay Fishing Report.

The great John Voelker (aka Robert Travers) once wrote, “In a world where most men seem to spend their lives doing things they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion.”

Even if you like what you do, there is no single pastime that is as relaxing and rewarding as casting a line over a stretch of water.

Many residents drive by the Columbia River, Arrow or Kootenay Lakes every day without ever considering the piscatorial opportunities lying at their doorstep. And so, as a pretext for indulging my own passion for fishing, I’ve assembled a fishing report to aid and inform those who fish, and those who will eventually.

Now some may think January is not the most likely of months to introduce a West Kootenay fishing report but amazingly, a relatively mild micro-climate and prime liquid real estate makes the West Kootenay region arguably the best place in B.C. to fish during the hard-water season.

How can you not love a community where you can ski some of the best powdery-runs in the world at Red Mountain one day then hit the Columbia River, a blue-ribbon trout stream, for fly fishing the next?

I’m an avid fly fisherman and have written for fly-fishing magazines for many years now, so including a fishing report is something I should have done a long time ago, yet for some reason the fishing report kept getting shuffled to the bottom of the pile.

There was always something – hockey, skiing, curling, hockey, baseball or hockey – did I mention hockey?

Finally, I bore down, contacted the various hubs of sport fishing excellence on Kootenay Lake, Lower Arrow Lake and the Columbia River and found they were more than happy to oblige me with all the information I needed to conduct such a report.

It was almost too easy.

Randy Thompson is the owner of Gill and Gift in Balfour, probably the best place to get fishing information, supplies and licenses for Kootenay Lake.

He’s generously offered the update with some great advice on how to catch the next 30-pound Gerard rainbow.

Scotties Marina has been THE place on Arrow Lakes for, well forever, as far as I can calculate, and Debbie Imeson has the scoop on the what’s working and where, in addition to all your fishing and boating needs.

And of course Rod Zavaduk from Castlegar Sports and Fly Shop is one of the most prolific fly tyers and knowledgeable fly fishers in the area and knows the Columbia and surrounding waters intimately.

I’ll throw in my own two-cents for what it’s worth, how the ice fishing is on local lakes, or how I did on the river during the weekend.

I am very fortunate to have friends that have helped me over the years, shared a favourite spot, fly pattern, tip or technique, and taken me out on Kootenay Lake, Arrow Lakes or the Columbia to show me just how good it can be.

So be a rebel, go fishing. And don’t forget to send a photo or share in your success  at

Tight lines everyone.

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