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