With so many great lakes, rivers and streams around Castlegar, the area is truly a paradise for all different kinds of fishers.
Whether you fish for fun, food or sport, there are plenty of options here in the West Kootenay.
“The main fishery on the river for sport is rainbow trout,” said Rod Zavaduk, president of the West Kootenay Fly Fishing Club. “In food fishery for the area it’s split between walleye and rainbow trout. The other food fishery that a lot of people chase after is the bull trout, the dollies in the big lakes.”
People can enjoy fishing in rivers, small streams, small lakes, and big lakes.
“The river fishery is mainly a fishery for sportsmen,” said Zavaduk. “Most sports-minded fly fishermen choose the river because that’s what they like to do is fish for rainbow trout for something that fights harder than the normal fish.”
The main river by Castlegar is the Columbia River. The Kootenay River is also popular as are the Arrow Lakes.
“They’re all popular and have good fishing,” said Zavaduk. “All the tourists that come here to fish, if they’re fly fishermen, they all want to fish the Columbia River. They’ve got big, wild rainbow trout and that’s what all the fly fishermen want to catch.”
Zavaduk says that the stock available in the Columbia is the most consistent 12 month fishery available to almost anyone in all of Western Canada.
“It has good numbers with big fish with really good hatches (bug activity) on the river,” he said. “We get enormous hatches here because the river is big.”
The best times to go fly fishing, says Zavaduk, is between now and November.
“Just because of the cold weather,” he said. “The bug activity from April on is there. So the fish are moving and feeding and it becomes a good fishery for fly fishing.”
Fly fishing continues to be extremely popular in the region. The recent West Kootenay Fly Fishing Symposium, which took place March 17 in Castlegar, attracted close to 2,000 people.
“When it comes to fishing the river,” said Zavaduk. “In the summer, it’s just astronomical the number of people you’ll find on the river anywhere per day. From a couple of hundred to 500 between the Brilliant Dam and the border.”
In addition to the size of the river and movement of the water, the great West Kootenay weather also helps with the popularity of fishing in the area.
“We have the finest weather in the summertime, (better) than most areas,” said Zavaduk. “We have warm, not too windy conditions on most days. The water is always consistent too. We don’t get the floods because of the dams. We don’t get the discolouration of the water either.”
In order to fish, anglers need a licence which can be purchased online or at certain stores including Castlegar Sports Centre and Fly Shop.
In addition to your licence, you will need a fishing rod, reel, and flys/bait. Also available for sale or rent at stores are fishing maps, fishing tours/charters, lessons, and guided fishing trips.
Zavaduk says that while river fishing is peaking right now, small lakes will be the focus in another month.
“When the summer heat happens the small lakes and small streams come into play. They close the small streams until June 15 and then open them for fishing,” he said. “Early season there’s spawning in all streams and they don’t want to bother the fish, so they don’t open until June 15.
“Your big lakes are fished in the winter a lot and spring and fall. Summertime they’re more of a recreation-type set up.”