Highway: The West Kootenays
It's hard to escape fish in this area of the West Kootenays.
It seems that wherever there's water - whether lake, creek, or river
- there is fishing. At Christina Lake,
for starters, fishing for kokanee, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass,
burbot, and whitefish is popular, and there are marinas and a public
boat ramp in the vicinity.
Anglers frequently have good luck catching rainbow trout in Nancy
Greene Lake at Nancy Greene Provincial Park.
The chain of three small lakes that make up the Champion Lakes in
Champion Lakes Provincial Park has been
regularly stocked with rainbow trout since the 1930s and makes for
very good fishing. Development is concentrated around the third lake,
which has deep, clear water and a regular shoreline. The others remain
in their natural states. The third and second lakes have trout up
to 10 inches (25 cm) in length, which will rise to the fly or trolling
spoon, and to the persistent angler the first lake will yield fish
up to 12 inches (30 cm) in length.
To the northwest, the Arrow Lakes, reached
via Castlegar, form a dammed lake system 250 miles (400 km) long.
Access to the grand Columbia River is from Highway 22 between
Castlegar and Trail.
Boat rentals and fishing information on lingcod, char, and trout pike
can be had from marina's beside Syringa Creek
Provincial Park, which has boat-launching ramps for high and low
Kokanee Creek and Kootenay
Lake maintain considerable populations of various fish species,
including kokanee, rainbow and cutthroat trout, dolly varden, burbot,
and whitefish. Kootenay Lake supports record-sized rainbow trout.
'Kokanee' means 'red fish' in the Kootenay Indian language and is
the name given to the land-locked salmon that spawn in large numbers
in Kokanee Creek in the late summer. Rainbow trout are plentiful in
Lockhart Creek on the east side of the south arm of Kootenay
Many of the more than 30 lakes in Kokanee
Glacier Provincial Park have been stocked with cutthroat trout.
The streams also have rainbow and cutthroat trout and dolly varden.
For information on angling in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, contact
the marina at the entrance to the park on Hwy 3A. Boat rentals are
also available here. For information about permits required for fishing
in the West Kootenays, contact a Fish and Wildlife conservation officer
at Castlegar, Nelson or Creston.
Slocan Valley and Upper Arrow Lake
With so much water
in this part of the West Kootenays, the fish are never far away. Fishing
for kokanee, dolly varden, and rainbow trout is good in Upper Arrow
Lake, accessible from McDonald Creek Provincial
Park. The various sites comprising Arrow Lakes Provincial Park
also provide access to Upper and Lower Arrow Lakes.
There is a small lakeside Forest Service campsite at Box Lake, 6 miles
(10 km) south of Nakusp
on Hwy 6, where fly-fishing for rainbow trout is popular. The site
has a boat launch, but boats are restricted to electric motors only.
Farther south, try your luck for rainbow trout or dolly varden in
Wilson Creek, at Rosebery Provincial Park.
For information about fishing licences, contact the Fish and Wildlife
office in Nelson or Nakusp.
North Kootenay Lake and Selkirk Valleys
In what must be one of the classic fisheries blunders, early this
century fisheries officers at Gerrard erected a fence and trapping
facility facing upstream to capture eggs from the mammoth Lardeau
River rainbow trout, hoping to introduce these fish to other river
and lake systems. Assuming that the fish dropped down from Trout Lake,
they were dismayed to find fish accumulating on the downstream side
of the fence in the spring of 1914. The fish were from Kootenay Lake.
Realizing their mistake, they developed an elaborate technique to
catch the fish. Eggs were reared at Gerrard, Nelson, Kaslo, Lardeau,
Argenta, and more distant British Columbia and US hatcheries. After
1939, most of them were not released to the Lardeau River, with the
result that the population began to decline seriously. By the 1950s,
the Gerrard run had been reduced to fewer than 50 fish! In spite of
the fact that their fry had been released in other systems, they attained
their maximum growth only in their original habitat at Gerrard. Heavy
fishing pressure and logging activity were also major factors in the
rapidly diminishing numbers of these spectacular rainbow trout.
To protect these fish today, the Lardeau River and associated tributary
waters are permanently closed to fishing. The north end of Kootenay
Lake is also closed from February through June to protect both
upstream migrants and spawned-out downstreamers. However, fishing
for char, burbot, and rainbow trout is possible on the aptly named
Trout Lake, reached from the boat launch at the Gerrard campsite or
the one at Trout Lake City,
at the opposite end of this narrow, 17-mile (28-km) lake. Northwest
of Trout Lake, you can fish for rainbow trout and whitefish in Staubert
and Armstrong Lakes.
There's also good trout fishing at Duncan Dam, 26 miles (42 km) north