Report #8 (July 19, 2021)
The Border is Reopening Soon… and the Fishing is Fine!
Well, as everyone has likely heard the Canada/U.S. border will be reopening to American anglers on August 9th, 2021.
Wow, can you believe it? The Border is reopening and there is still enough time for Americans to come summer holiday in B.C.!
The timing is right as the fishing has been quite good this past week and it will only get better as we move forward.
The weather has also been pretty good with daily temperatures starting out at 16°C (61°F) and reaching the low 30’s°C (86°F) by mid afternoon.
The smoke from fires from around the Province, Montana and Washington State is travelling in and out of our area. One day it is clear blue skies and the next smoky. We just need some rain!
Now that the summer heat has arrived, we are starting our float trips earlier in the day. The early start is cooler for us and finishing by 4.00 in the afternoon is easier on the fish. We are also focused on reeling in and releasing fish quickly to reduce their stress.
Today we floated the Elk River down to the Morrissey Bridge. The Elk is shaping up nicely, dropping and clearing every day. The anglers only used dry flies today in an effort to entice the cutthroats to the surface.
The fishing started with a bang as a cutthroat grabbed a foam fly and took off with it! After that the fishing was steady. A couple cutthroats took the fly right along a log jam and almost got off.
The angler managed to lay the rod low and pull the fish around the structure to save his fly and land the fish… nice work!
The average sized cutthroat landed on the Elk today was a little smaller than usual, between 11 and 14 inches. That said, they did catch a few nice fish up to 16. The cuts provided to be a lot of fun throughout the day as the anglers landed around 15 fish each.
It was a day that required a lot of switching up of different patterns to find the one that would work for a while. Getting the right fly is important, but making sure the fly floats naturally with zero drag is also critical to fooling the cuts of the Elk on the surface. The best producing flies included; Fat Alberts, Purple Haze, Chernobyl Ants, Stimulators and Sparkle Caddis.
There was a lot of active bird life on the Elk today. The most noteworthy were the ospreys and eagles hovering around their nests of chicks! Nice to see.
The rivers in our area are all in great shape now. When coming to the Cranbrook area, drop into the fly shop and check out our extensive assortment of flies. We have everything you need for your dry fly adventure!
July is almost done so get out there and enjoy the backcountry and stay fire safe.
And to our American anglers…see you soon, for real this time!
Karen and Kelly
Ps call us at 1-800-667-2311 about booking a float trip this summer and into the fall.
Report #7 (July 6, 2021)
St.Mary River Report; lots of cutthroat trout are being caught on the dry!
It’s the first week of July and the rivers are shaping up nicely. The St.Mary River has been dropping daily and has completely cleared up. The Elk is also dropping and clearing up steadily, as are the Bull and Skookcumchuck rivers. Things are rounding into form.
Presently we are focused on the St Mary River, guiding it daily with our eager clients!
The guides are still running two sections of the Mary on each float, as the flow is still moving along fairly quickly. Today the guys floated from Wycliffe down to the confluence with the Kootenay River.
The temperatures started out elevated at 25°C (77°F) and reached a high of 35°C (95°F) by mid-afternoon. The skies were blue and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. Thunderclouds formed in the afternoon and by later in the evening a storm had cruised through. It’s very warm for this time of year!
The anglers dry fly fished all day with their 4 and 5 weight rods setup with dry lines and 9-foot leaders. During the day they hooked into many wild Westslope Cutthroats, as well as a few cut-bows. The cut-bows always jump like crazy no matter their size. So, if you hook one of these fish on the surface it is a great rush! They averaged 20 fish apiece with the average size in the 13 to 15 inch class.
Fishing big terrestrial patterns at this time of year is so much fun. You cast upstream, mend the line so you have no drag on the fly, then give it a pop on the surface to look like it is jumping around. The cutthroats can't refuse these bugs as they look so realistic… just like a stone fly!!
The anglers used a wide variety of flies including; Stimi Chew Toys, Foam Patterns, Chernobyl Ants, Fat Alberts (in red, black or tan), Purple Haze, Royal Wulffs, Parachute Adams and Caddis patterns.
The guys spent most of their time fishing the runs, behind rocks and along the bank edges. At the lunch spot the guys needed to cool down so they jumped in the water for a swim, and that did the trick. You definitely need to hydrate and cool yourself down in this weather.
The wildlife along the St.Mary River is abundant now with deer and their fawns roaming the bank edges and lots of bird life. The ospreys are now busy in their nests with their chicks and seem to pick the best fishing holes as their territory.
We are already cruising into summer so make sure to get out and fish and enjoy the backcountry as much as possible.
Before you head out to fish your favorite stream in our corner of B.C., drop into our flyshop in Cranbrook to check out the latest products. Also, be sure to ask what is working on the various rivers and streams as we have a lot of knowledge to go along with a wide selection of flies to improve your chances of success.
As for our American clients, we miss you and hopefully the borders will open soon. We should hear more on July 21 when the current regulations are revisited. We are still in Stage 3 of the B.C. reopening plan and we will let you know right away if anything changes.
See you on the water soon.
Karen and Kelly
PS Stay cool!
Report #6 (June 27, 2021)
The St.Mary River is fishing very well, as things heat up across B.C.
Well, summer is here with a bang! Currently B.C. is trapped under a ‘Heat Dome’ as we have been experiencing temperatures as high as 49°C (120°F). Crazy I tell you!!!
As a result of the heat the rivers are now dropping daily and clearing up fast!
The guys floated the St Mary River today to look for new channels and bars, as well as to check out the fishing quality. They floated from the Pumphouse down to Sophie's, which is a double section. They started early to avoid the midday heat.
They rigged up for dry fly fishing with big stone fly patterns including; Orange Stimulators, Purple Haze, foam patterns, Fat Alberts, Caddis patterns and Yellow Sallies. You know, a few of the awesome flies you want to have in your fly box!
With the rods at the ready, the guys climbed into the raft and began their float. They immediately started casting along the bank edges, behind rocks and into the nice flowing runs.
The cutthroats were very active and hungry from the start. On the St.Mary, if you cast your fly line and then mend it right of way so it does not drag, the cutties will come up and eat the fly all the time!
On the float they landed about 30 fish between the two of them. The average size was 12-14 inches in length, but they did land a few in the 17-18 inch class. The cutthroats looked very healthy and strong as they have wintered well.
During the float the guys did stop and get out of the boat a few times to fish up the back channels. The cutthroats are now searching out their summer homes after returning from spawning. So, if you find some fish in the River at this time, the chances are you will find a lot of them still hanging out in that hole!
In terms of the wildlife on the St.Mary today, they saw some deer with their fawns coming down to the water to drink. And there were all kinds of ducks and birds congregating along the bank edges.
So, all in all, the River is looking and fishing fabulous right now!
Over on the Elk River, the flow has been dropping and clearing up steadily as well. So, the fishing will be improving every day now as we move into summer conditions.
Remember when you go out in this heat to stay hydrated. Start your fishing early in the mornings when it is cool. And, like the guys did today, feel free to dip your hat in the water to cool off on occasion.
If it stays this hot we may have to start early and stop fishing in the early afternoon and then head back out in the evening.
B.C. is now in Step 3 of their Covid 19 Restart Plan, which includes ‘Canada wide recreational travel.’ Hopefully, we will hear more about the Canada-U.S. border reopening on July 22.
Take care and see you out on the water,
Karen and Kelly
PS Stay cool and play safe!
Report #5 (June 19, 2021)
All the Rivers are now Open!
With June 15th arriving, all the small streams and rivers in Region 4 are now open to fishing, so here we go again! Many people have been anxiously awaiting this day to get out and walk a bank edge of their favorite river! Unfortunately, the day before opening on the St.Mary, we had a big storm up the valley so flows went up and the water turned to chocolate milk. So we will have to wait a few days for things to calm down.
We have not seen terribly high peak flows in this spring’s freshet. The snow in the high country has melted steadily which has meant no topping of the banks.
The Elk River is also currently quite dirty. That said, the rivers are clearing up and dropping everyday. We expect conditions to clear up in the next week and the fishing to be very good after that.
In terms of the local lakes, some are still fishing well. Whiteswan Lake in particular is experiencing very good fishing. We were out there for a couple of days of fun fishing and camping recently. We cruised out on the Lake and fished along the drop of ledges. We anchored the boat with the wind at our backs, fishing in about 15ft of water. We added an indicator and swivel to our chironomids to get them down to the required depth.
The weather was absolutely beautiful and the scenery is really spectacular at Whiteswan. The fishing was quite good as we landed about 15 fish between the two of us in a couple of hours of fishing each day. The fish were very healthy, a few of them jumped and they all tugged hard on the line.
The producing flies included Chromies, small green chironomids (size 16-18), gun metal chironomids, as well as the Doc Spratley, black or green leech patterns and dragon flies.
The wildlife on the Lake only enhances the experience on Whiteswan with eagles in their nests, loons cruising along the shore edges looking for their next meal and deer coming down to sip the cool mountain waters. You may think you are in a beer commercial!
Many people were out on the Whiteswan Lake enjoying the weather and water. We saw everything from paddle boarding to kayaking, in addition to the fishing.
This week coming the temperatures are going to be very hot, with many record highs to be broken. We are told to expect heat in the high 30’s°C to low 40’s°C (95-105°F), and we will likely see the end of our cool nights.
Just make sure before you head out to include a hat, sun protection and lots of water in your kit. Sun stroke can happen quickly, so be prepared.
We will be checking out the St. Mary River over the upcoming week and will let you know how the fishing is. If you are in the Cranbrook area, stop by our fly shop to discuss the status of the rivers and lakes and how to fish them at this time of year.
The Canada/U.S. Border
With the threat of Covid 19 lingering, the mask and distancing restrictions remain in effect for now and the Canada/U.S. border likely remains closed to people traveling for recreation until July 22nd, when it will be revisited.
We realize the border closure is very frustrating to our American clients and we miss you greatly! But hang in there as the border reopening is on the horizon! Please get vaccinated ASAP because we are hearing it will be a condition of entry into Canada for some time. We are told it is a great defence against the virus, especially the variants. We also understand that it is very likely that people will only be allowed into Canada 14 days after they are fully vaccinated. The Government of Canada has designed an App called “ArriveCAN” for travelers to Canada to electronically upload proof and date of vaccination, etc.
The opening of the border is definitely on the horizon and we look forward to welcoming you back into Canada soon! When the conditions of entry into Canada are announced by the Canadian Government, we will post a link for your review. You can read the news releases on travel conditions from the Government of Canada by clicking this link
Take care and see you out on the water,
Karen and Kelly
PS Stay safe, we are almost through this thing!
Report #4 (June 4, 2021)
The Spring Freshet is in Full Swing and Summer is Now Within sight!
We are inching closer and closer to June 15th, the opening day for all the rivers and small streams in our East Kootenay Region. With this in mind we are also getting closer to the Canada/U.S. Border reopening…or so we hope!
The Rivers are now in full freshet. They are big, brawling and dirty brown as we speak! A lot of debris; logs and rocks are rolling downstream plowing new runs and routes as the runoff continues. Remember to stay clear of the watercourses now, they are not safe.
Hopefully the freshet will be well on its way to completion in a couple of weeks. Once the rivers drop and clear, we will be ready to get out to dry fly fish!
The lakes in our area are still producing well overall. Depending on the day and the lake, the fishing can be quite good!
Whether you have a boat or not, there are many lakes you can fish. Stop by our Cranbrook fly shop and we will let you know the latest on how each lake is fishing, and what flies you need to catch a few! The fishing conditions are changing all the time, so information is an important element that we can provide you in advance of your trip.
The Columbia River:
We are in the process of finishing up the spring fishing season on the Columbia River. Again this year, the spring season has been outstanding!
This last week we have enjoyed above normal temperatures. This morning started off at 12°C (54°F), but by later in the afternoon it reached an amazing temperature of 39°C (102°F), now that is hot! We were thankful there were a few clouds in the sky to block out the sun at times!
We put the boat in at the Gyro Park launch in Trail. We floated downstream, fishing from run to run, in addition to testing the eddies in the morning. In the afternoon we headed back upstream. The fishing was pretty good in the morning, but by midafternoon it was fantastic!
The guys landed about 15 rainbows each. Most of them in the 17 to 19 inch slot, but a few in the 20-22 inch class were hooked and released. It was crazy fun times as these fish really like to run, jump and fight! When they first hit, you just can’t tell whether you have hooked a big guy, or a small one. They are all so feisty!
On this trip we decided to use the smaller Czech nymphs to see how they would produce, in addition to a few Caddis emerger patterns. Both types of patterns worked quite well.
There were a few caddis hatches early in the day, but as things really heated up, nothing was happening. I guess it was too hot to hatch!
The Columbia River is running very high right now. This means the boat’s pilot must be on constant alert for floating debris. Logs, big and small, floating downstream can be very dangerous and appear very quickly in your field of view.
At this time of year there is a lot of wildlife to be seen on the River. Be it eagles and osprey, ducks, turkeys or swallows you will not be disappointed in the bird life. In addition, deer and bear are frequent visitors to the shoreline.
We are hearing more positive news about the Canada/U.S. border reopening soon. There are a lot of political leaders calling for both the Canadian and American governments to reopen the border for vaccinated travellers. Hopefully we will hear something positive on June 22nd when the latest restrictions will be revisited. So, get yourself ready to travel again.
In the meantime, travel restrictions within B.C. will end on June 15th.
For those of you in our area, feel free to come into the fly shop and check out all the new products and flies we have in stock.
Summer fishing it is right around the corner and you want to be prepared!
Stay Safe and Tight Lines!
PS PS You can call us directly at 1-800-667-2311 to discuss available dates or book a summer float.
Report #3 (May 25, 2021)
The Lakes are Fishing Well and the Columbia River is Producing lots of nice Rainbows Now!
Spring fishing has been very good so far this year. The lakes around the East Kootenay region have been producing steadily for those able to get out on the water. The high-quality fishing, coupled with the forced isolation of the Pandemic, has meant people are extremely eager to head out to fish and camp.
Some of our lakes can be very hard to figure out, but with persistence and a little planning, you can almost always catch a couple fish. Here are some ideas to increase the odds.
When you go out fishing it is always a good idea to have a few patterns in your fly box so you can try multiple flies, and techniques, to fool the fish.
It is always a good idea to cruise around the lake and try to spot fish in the shallows, before you settle in.
Once you do spot some fish, anchor your boat and measure the water’s depth so you can build your leader and drop your chironomid about a foot off the bottom.
If you are fishing with someone, have them try a balanced leech on the end of their line while you run a chironomid. It is always advisable for each angler to have different flies on…. at least until you understand what the fish are biting!
Right now, dragon flies are working really well on a sinking line. Remember to cast towards the shore and strip your line back in slowly, when fishing this setup.
In addition to the above advice, feel free to stop into our fly shop and we will be happy to let you know what flies are working now. We can also give you an update on how the local lakes are fishing. Presently; Premier, Whiteswan, Whitetail, Moose, Echo and Lazy Lake, are all producing fish.
That said, the chironomid hatches have only been lasting for a couple of hours a day. So be aware that you will have to fish different methods at this time of year to have success. And the usual caveats apply on the lakes in the spring; ‘each day is different’ and while ‘one lake can be amazing one day, it can be very tough the next’.
The Columbia River:
Over on the Columbia River in the West Kootenay region of Southeastern B.C., the fish have been very active!
The weather has been a bit wild the last few days with storms rolling through bringing wind, rain and hail! But that’s spring!
The nice thing is that these spring storms usually only last for short periods and don’t seem to negatively impact the fishing.
Over the last few days the temperature in the morning has started off at around 8°C (46°F) climbing up towards 20°C (68°F) by the afternoon.
It is always a good idea to wear layers in the spring so you can take them off, and put them back on, as the weather dictates. You do not want to get a chill when out on the water!
We have been putting the boat in at Beaver Creek and fishing the lowest section of the Columbia before it crosses the International Border. There are many nice back eddies and runs in this stretch of the River that produce a lot of feeding fish.
Today the two anglers caught and released around 30 rainbow trout between them, which is an awesome day for the Columbia!
The average sized rainbow caught was in the 17-20 inch range. They netted a very nice 22-inch rainbow that jumped and tugged on the line providing the angler with a great fight!
On this day, the guys fished mostly nymphs, with the occasional streamer tossed in. The nymphs used included; Prince, Hare's Ear and Copper John (sized 12-14). The streamers were in white, black or green (sized 8-12).
But when the caddis are hatching… look out as the dry fly fishing will be on!
The wild life on the Columbia never gets old as there is so much bird life to be seen. Eagles and ospreys overhead. The young in the nests. Ducklings feeding in the eddies. The place is packed with wildlife!
End to Travel Restrictions in B.C.:
On June 16th, the ban on recreational travel throughout the Province of B.C. is over. We are also hearing rumours that the U.S. may unilaterally open the border in late June, but we are not hearing anything about Canada’s response. So, who knows for sure. But the border reopening is coming, hopefully sooner than later.
If you are looking at booking a trip on our rivers this summer, give us a call.
Stay Safe and Tight Lines!
PS You can call us directly at 1-800-667-2311 to book a float this summer.
Report #2 (May 17, 2021)
Spring is in Full Swing and the Fishing is Great!
The month of May is cruising along and the fishing in the East Kootenay region of B.C. has been excellent. The warmer weather is generating abundant food sources for the fish, so all the lakes are now producing very well.
Over the last few days the terrestrial insects have been showing themselves with the black ant hatch coming off, as well as the dragon and damsel flies appearing alongside the lake edges. That said, chironomids, balanced leeches, blobs and booby flies are all still working well. Things come on strong in May producing many choices for the fish to feed on and lots of options for anglers to imitate.
With the warmer weather this past week we are now seeing the spring freshet building on the rivers. The rivers are now rising every day, even if the weather service is calling for snow high up in the mountains this weekend. We never know what weather we will face come spring time, but spring is indeed here!
The Columbia River has been fishing very well during the month of May. This past week the weather was beautiful and the rainbow trout were feeding aggressively. The Columbia’s rainbows have wintered well with the majority of fish being landed in the 18-21 inch range. One day last week the guys landed 15- 20 fish each with a few double headers mixed in!
The flies working these days include; streamers of various colors, Purple Prince Nymphs, regular Prince Nymph's, Hare's Ear Nymphs and Pat's Rubber Legs. Certain dry flies, including small caddis, are producing well when the fish are feeding at the surface.
The wildlife was everywhere to be seen on the Columbia River today. There were lots of eagles, osprey, merganser ducks and Canada geese. The guys even saw an eagle swoop down on a group of young ducklings. Fortunately, the ducklings dove under the water to take cover. They also saw a huge sturgeon swim under the boat while rowing through one of the back eddies, so prehistoric looking! At one point they noticed a beaver come out of its home and dive into the water. What an amazing day for wildlife!
We have been launching the boat from Gyro Park at Trail and jetting upriver to the prime locations where we row the eddies. The flows on the Columbia are now starting to come up due to the building freshet and the subsequent release of water from the dam. So, just a reminder that you must always be aware of wood debris and logs on the water when out in a boat on the Columbia as the flows build.
We are hearing that the Covid-19 restrictions are going to start to be lifted next week. Hopefully there is a plan to reopen the Canada/US border sometime in the near future as well. Until then, stay healthy everyone!
If you are in and around the Cranbrook area feel free to stop into our fly shop to check out our merchandise and wide selection of flies. We can also give you information on how the lakes are fishing and where you can head out to explore!
Stay Safe and Tight Lines!
PS Feel free to call us at 1-800-667-2311 to discuss the latest news around Covid-19 travel restrictions and booking a float this summer.
Report #1 (May 11, 2021)
The Spring Fishing Report
Welcome to spring! That’s the good news… the other is that we are still facing restrictions due to the Covid-19 Pandemic…yuk!
That said, the fish are not affected by the Pandemic and they have been feeding heavily. This means the fishing has been amazing out here in southeastern British Columbia. Presently, Premier, White Swan and Whitetail lakes are all producing nice sized rainbow trout.
The month of April started off warm, and the low elevation lakes responded by icing off early. The rest of the lakes at higher elevations are now icing off as I write.
May is when everything starts to hatch on the lakes of southeastern B.C. So, in addition to the regular chironomids you may be using like Rick’s Prom Midge, Gun Metals and Chromies, get out your balanced leeches in black, maroon, green and brown! These will all produce well at this time of year.
When the air temperatures rise and the sun is shining, black ants will start to hatch in big numbers. This will be in addition to the callibaetis that will also start coming off nicely.
When you first hit the water, you want to do a little exploration before settling in to fish. Take a few minutes to cruise around and along the drop-off ledges to see if the fish have moved into the shallows. Once you see some fish cruising you want to anchor your boat on both ends, just near or over top of the drop-off ledge. You then need to measure the depth of water so you can build your leader and tippet section so it extends to 1 foot above the bottom. The leader and tippet can be anywhere from 8 and 20 feet long depending on your depth. First you put on an indicator then run your line down to a swivel which acts like a weight. Below the swivel you run another 18" of tippet to the Chironomid or Balanced Leach.
If you don’t want to anchor up, you can also troll a leach, which can be very effective as well.
Due to the Covid-19 restrictions right now, people in British Columbia are only allowed to travel within the three designated travel regions. So, make sure you are aware of this before you travel, or you can be stopped and fined by the RCMP. You can find out all the details of the travel restrictions here.
This spring we fished on the Kootenay River for Bull Trout and the fishing was outstanding. Unfortunately, as the runoff has come on recently, the Kootenay River is now blown out. While it remains ‘open’, along with the Columbia River, all the small streams in Region 4 are closed due to runoff and cutthroat spawning from April 15 th to June 15th. So please check out the regulations before you go fishing.
Columbia River Update:
Kelly and Brandon are now over on the Columbia River checking out the fishing and they report it is producing well. The flies that usually work well for us in May are the Prince Nymphs, Hare's Ear Nymph, Pheasant Tail Nymph, Pat's Rubber Legs, Sculpin's and Steamers.
Because of the regulations restricting travel within the three designated regions, we are not doing any guided trips for anglers from outside of our area until the restrictions are lifted.
While travel is restricted, everyone should try to get out and enjoy the outdoors! Spring is here and the fishing is great!
Re-Opening of the Canada-U.S. Border:
We are hopeful that the Canada-U.S. border will reopen soon. We recently read that the U.S. Senate Majority Leader is calling on Canadian and U.S. officials to release their plans to safely reopen the border to non-essential travel. This is a positive move as we are really looking forward to seeing our U.S. friends again!
If you are from Cranbrook, or anywhere in Southeastern B.C., stop in at our Fly Shop when passing by. We have lots of ideas of where to fish and what flies and gear you will need to catch them. We will help you prepare for any fishing trip you have in mind.
Stay Safe and Tight Lines!
PS Feel free to call us at 1-800-667-2311 to touch base with us as the restrictions around Covid-19 change.
Click here for our 2020 Season in Review and Fishing Reports