Sunday, November 8, 2015

Bull Ride on the Kootenay With "Belafonte"

It was a pretty sweet October for us.  Lots of sunshine and warm temps made October on our rivers a more pleasant than usual place to be.   After replacing the prop engine for a new jet outboard we were set to attack the Kootenay River and it's abundance of resident and migrating bull trout.  It's a beautiful river that finally begins to clear up after a spring and summer of silty brown.  The predominating colour of the river is an almost turquoise blue tinted from glacial silt.  The contrasting evergreens and rocky banks makes for a gorgeous backdrop to this stellar late season fishery.

A lot of factors come together to make this fishery happen.  The clearing of the water, the massive runs of kokanee from Koocanusa Lake into the countless spawning tributaries of the Kootenay River and the spawning run of the Bull Trout themselves out of the massive cross boundary reservoir.

Jack Gets Some Love on the Skookumchuck Run

When the kokanee finish their spawn they, like their ancestral sockeye parents; die and load the Kootenay River with a massive source of protein.  The Bull Trout which have spent most of the summer making there way high into the Rocky Mountain streams seeking the coldest, cleanest water they can find.  Once they finish their business they begin their descent down river, back into the big reservoir.  Some remain in the river as year round residents switching their diets over to the abundant whitefish in the system.  The clearing of the water aids in the pursuit of these fish and although the big bulls have to work harder to catch the lively whitefish in that cold water, they have a lot of energy reserved from the gorging on kokanee.  This is what makes late September and October the prime months to fish this gem.

Spencer Schey With a Friend

The eager post spawn bulls are hungry and the flesh of the dead and part dead kokanee is the perfect meal for the tired bulls to capitalize on and build up there strength and weight for the upcoming winter months when the food gets more scarce.  As the fish gorge on the kokanee they regain their fighting weight and the stomachs of these beasts begin to sag from the buffet of rotting flesh.  

Once the kokanee are done and flushed out, the whitefish that reside in the river and who have also been feeding on the eggs etc. of the kokanee are in spawn mode and become the targets of these predacious giants.  Due to the variance of prey choices, the method of presentation varies and once you find the right combination of retrieve, colour and habitat, the fishing can really light up and some epic battles ensue.  30 + inch fish are not uncommon and are quite frequent.  Combine that with their big drooping guts and your dream of landing a 20 pound plus trout on a river can become a reality on this system.  It's truly one of the best trophy fly angling fisheries out there.  

Jonny Taking a Break from Slingshotting

The jet boat (Belafonte) was the right tool for the job and is a lot of fun to run up the river.  Had a great time with that system this year and look forward to doing it again next fall.  Now for some time on the Columbia.....

"The Belafonte"on the Kootenay

Monday, August 31, 2015

Fall Outlook :)

It's been a busy summer so far and we've had a lot of smiling faces coming and going.  It's been a pretty epic summer for fishing here in the Elk Valley and somehow we've been able to get down river without grounding out....something I did not anticipate earlier in the year when water conditions were looking low.

Some brief but heavy rains kept the river up over the last few weeks and the cooler nights kept the water temps down enough to avoid closure on most of the rivers over here.  They did close the Michel and it was something I was happy to see as the river gets beaten up on a regular basis by anglers and the water is low with fish stacked to tight in the dwindling pools.

Some Elk River Meat

According the new Angling Management Plan being put forth, the Michel will become a separate class 2 waters with limited angler use days both for guided and non guided anglers.  I'm happy to see this happen as the creek definitely needs some special attention.  The Wigwam will also see new limitations placed on non guided anglers which will help control traffic on this classic stream.

September is a day away and some focus will be shifted to the West where we will be hitting the Slocan and Columbia Rivers as well as the Pend O'reille.  The Slocan will reopen on the first of the month after it's annual summer closure and usually fishes extremely well and the Columbia should be showing more of it's underwater features as the water has been lower this year.  Will keep you updated on how that goes.

Phil Dupuis Back in Slabtown BC

The Elk is still fishing incredibly well on most days although some of the heavier fronts have put some fish down. Had wet snow falling on my windshield a week ago Friday as I  pulled the boat out after a heavy push out of an upper Elk float.  Another front  yesterday saw only the strong survive but we were rewarded an epic hatch of BWO's, PMD's and few Drakes.  I hope that was a foreshadowing of what's to come in September here as I've seen lots of nymphs on the rocks but have not seen such a massive hatch of mayflies like that since earlier this season.   Ants have been the staple on the warmer days and the fish remain strong, fat and healthy.

A Team Effort Taekout

Our bull trout trips are filling up as we only have one jet boat to handle that fishery and dates are limited.  The bulls showed up in the lower Bull River this year along with the Kokanee in really big numbers according to some of the recent counts on the river.  The latter part of September remains open as do a few days in October.  This runs well into November if your willing to brave the cold.  We decided Fairmont Hot Springs resort is a good option for accommodation  due to it's proximity to the angling and warmth and comfort of the springs at a days end of fishing.  There are some good dining options within the resort and around the town itself.

We have lots of openings in September for the Elk and by all accounts and estimations the great fishing on the river will remain, if you have the time get on the line and plan a trip.  Clear water, small flies, light tippett and soft sipping heavy fish are a seasoned anglers dream....come live it.

The Elk River Valley From the Lens of Jeff Webb

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Poo Brown....Beyond the Elk

We prayed for rain and we got it.  What we didn't pray for was 2 landslides in the Line Creek Canyon and we got that as a side salad to our wishes.  After an epic start to the season with Golden Stoneflies and Drakes generously feeding fish, the Elk suffered a set back when 2 natural slides came down the steep canyon and dirtied the river quite badly.  'Shit Brown" was the term used to describe the Elk to me as I'm currently enjoying the clean waters of the Columbia in the West Kootenay.

The fortunate part is that the slide is on Teck (mine) property and is blocking the access to their mine so remediation work is in full swing and the expect to have the road operational by early August.  That may not mean the end of the siltation but it will lilkey be greatly reduced.  Left on it's own it may take weeks if not months to clean up as it is holding water back and damming the river.   The diversion of the water will hopefully provide some relief from the silt but we won't know how things will turn out and will have to update as it progresses.

It will give the fish a break although crowds were not much of an issue and really we needed some rain to help fill the aquifers in the valley and cool down the temps.  These cutts have shown their ability to handle the muddiest and siltiest of conditions so I'm not too concerned about their situation as the population was extremely healthy this year.  The higher water temps present a great risk to the fish and that warming trend has been somewhat alleviated by the cool rains and we have cold nights in the forecast which should keep the Elk in the safe zone as far as temps.

So it's time to explore  as most of you have done over the years here and as those who have been here before know there is a lot more to this fishery than the Elk.  So hello Elk tribs, St. Mary's, Bull, Wigwam, Flathead, St. Mary's AB, Oldman, Waterton, Columbia etc..  I prefer guiding many of  these rivers myself as it's a bit more of a challenge and in some cases provides a completely different angling experience.

Water levels are good, bugs are good, fish are  good, Elk is poo.  Other than the poo factor it's game on.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Everything's Right and Ready

The hot weather and low snow pack has the Elk in prime shape right now.  The riffles are showing and Green Drakes and PMD's are rolling off with some regularity.  We had an unexpected low move in and drop a bit of moisture which encouraged a push of the big green mayflies.  The cutts; fat from three weeks of steady stonefly hatches, appreciated the change in diet and hammered the drakes with impunity.

The rocks on the riffles are still holding lots of drake nymphs but the numbers and size range of PMD's and BWO's indicates that it's going to be a good mayfly season on the Elk.

The tributaries are running clear and  in great shape.  The Bulls have already migrated high up into these drainages  and in some cases have begun to spawn.  Hatch periods are a little more concentrated  on the tribs but when time comes huge green drakes have been tumbling down the runs and getting hammered.

It hasn't been very crowded here despite the ideal conditions and we have a pretty slow week here in Fernie if anyone is interested in getting out there.  You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Temperatures Rising.

If you have keys and a car and were wondering how you could put them to good use; insert they keys into the ignition and drive immediately to the Kootenays.  Planes are also handy and sometimes quicker but if you can find the time I highly recommend coming here to fish the Elk, Columbia, Crowsnest, Oldman Rivers, etc, etc and so on.

The low snow pack and rising temperature have the rivers dropping fast and in prime shape.  Hatches are as abundant as I've ever seen on the Elk River as stoneflies and mayflies are in symphonic ritual above the riverbed.   Been chucking a bunch of bugs to bring the cutts up from size 10 South Fork Chernobyls to smaller size 14 PMX's.  The variation of sizes and colours in the stones has us switching flies up a bit during the floats but a big Golden imitation with long legs seems to bring up the meatier specimens when twitched tight to the bank.  Another nice thing about the Elk right now is the lack of crowds.  Spent a day without seeing a single other angler on the Elko run and were blessed with some great dry fly fishing....super pleased with how the river is fishing

Last evening a few of us arrived in Nelson to check on our beloved Columbia River and as we approached the river we began noticing the clouds of brown hovering above pretty much every single tree.  As I put the newly trimmed boat into the Robson put in I knew good things were about to happen......

and they did!!!   That thug took a size 14 caddis off the top and bent Jonny's new Sage Method 6 weight over as it dug for the bottom.  Kevin, Jonny and myself kept the rods bent for most of our two hours of heaven before nightfall set in.  Couple of craft pints at the Lion's Head Pub was the perfect close to that wicked lil outing.

I managed to procure more rod days through some of the outfitters in the Elk Valley.  Also the good Dr. Dre McGaughey decided to put the hammer down and get back on the sticks now that his house in the Pass is completed so we have some openings again on the Elk.  Adam Richard and Colin Dunbar also have some time available so we have some of our best  waiting for the call.

The New Ride for the Columbia

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Snow Pack

How much do we have and how will it affect the fishing is a common question when people are inquiring about a trip and it's a good question to ask.  There's a lot of prognosticating when it comes to this and I often shove my wading boot in my mouth when I make this prediction but here we go.

We have lower than normal snowpack in most drainages of the Kootenays which means we should have an amazing golden stonefly hatch on the Elk and some drake eating trout on the Slocan to feed.  That will be the big difference from the last several years when we were inundated with H20.

Here's a link to the data collected so far for this year.  (search for the Kootenay listings, East for Fernie/West for Nelson

Snow Pack

I'd prognasticate more later but for now I will guarantee myself some sleep.

Mighty tired,