Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rainbow Love in the West Kootenays...Caddis Hatch is On

When I first visited Nelson BC I was immediately charmed by the aesthetics of the community; old wooden victorian homes, 100+ year old eastern hardwoods and the West Arm of the Kootenay at it's feet. The downtown retail district is quite vibrant, there are many coffee shops, outdoor stores and galleries that keep the town buzzing. There are also tons of great places to eat but the real draw for me here are all the beautiful young "freaks" who give the town it's colour and funky vibe. All it needed to be perfect for me was that perfect river.

When I first looked at the Columbia River I was daunted by it's immense size. The huge whirlpools, eddies and current seams made it difficult for me to read and I never gave it much of a thought as far as angling went. Three years ago when the Slocan River opened up again I was invited to fish it with Pat Patterson who at the time was a client of Homewaters Guide Service in Fernie.

We both had keen interest in fishing the Slocan and I was in the process of moving back to Nelson. After an experimentative but impressive float down the Slocan we went to the infamous Waterloo eddy on the Columbia and floated around in the "toilet' (centrifical current) for a few hours, hooked and landed a few nice rainbows but also saw some monsters.

I decided after that experience that there was some guiding potential in the area and began doing some intensive recon on both the Slocan and Columbia Rivers. Coming from the Elk most of my clients are dry fly enthusiasts so I have spent much of my time on these rivers casting and developing various dries and have comprised a decent arsenal of flies for most occasions. The Columbia rainbows still stiffle me with their "uber" selective feeding habits in the soft water but it keeps me honest and on the vise.

After a few years of recon I began guiding here a lot more and the Columbia during the months of June, July and September has become my favourite piece of water to fish. The rainbows are the strongest I've seen anywhere and the caddis hatch in June and July is prolific enought to bring thousands of fish to the surface in the evening. It's like watching a school of sharks as huge dorsels and tails breach the surface as they slurp down the caddis.....dry fly fishing doesn't get any better than that.

I've spent the last three days guiding the river and the dry fly action has been incredible. Lots of nice fish in the afternoon but the real show goes down in the late evening when the big dudes show up to get there time in. As usual the big fish scream line after being pinned and rarely make it to the net. That being said we did land some nice fish on a variety of caddis, but the evening hero was definitely the Peacock Hot Butt that immediately began hooking fish when the light left the water. It seems the fish began keying in on the egg sac (hot butt) of the fly and the cdc overwing helped us see the fly into the night although a lot of hookups were made on presumptuous sets---visually tracking the speed of the seem the fly landed in and setting on any sign of trout lips.

One more shot at it tonight and then back to the Fernie area for 5 days of cutties before getting back here for some more lovin'. It's a tough life!!

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