Date: February 2023
Source: Jim Bailey
Target Species: Rainbow trout
Location: South of Downtown Trail
Weather: Variable winter weather
Temperature: -10 to 8 degrees Celsius
February had some big swings in temperatures. We also had a winter storm warning and the water level was low. This made for challenging, but at times beautiful spring-like conditions in February.
I ventured out on several days during the month, but the nicest day had the sun shining down on me and a mild wind that seemed to almost be heralding the onset of spring.
One of my favourite spots to fly fish just South of Trail did not disappoint as I landed and released two nice rainbows swinging a beadhead woolly bugger. I walked along the river, casting occasionally and stopping and looking for fishy lies -the places rainbow feel safe and like to hang out.
I ended up losing one more trout, and as I was casting I noticed midges coming off the water and trout rising in the main current just beyond my reach. I usually bring two rods. One with a sink line, and the other with a floating line, but I really didn’t expect much surface action in early February.
The next day I came better prepared. I packed my 6-wt Sage loaded with floating line, a nine-foot leader, 4X tippet, and a stonefly nymph pattern. Most rainbows will still be feeding subsurface in their winter pools, but some are also looking up for a passing meal.
It was a nice sunny day again, and there were midges hovering near the shore. After a few false casts, I double-hauled into the river. I stripped out more line, and the current floated the nymph right into the feeding lane. It didn’t take long until a rainbow hit it hard. I ended up playing and releasing a nice 17-inch trout. I missed a few, and landed two more. All-in-all it was a really good day to be on the river.
I wanted to go out near the end of the month, but on Feb. 25 the West Kootenay was under a winter storm warning. I decided to spend some time inside tying flies in anticipation of warmer weather and more seasonal hatches.
Preparation is a big part of fishing. I like to make sure my gear is working right, and my fly or tackle box is stocked with the right flies or lures for the species and time of year. Not only is it a critical to a successful outing, but it’s a fun way to spend the day when the weather is not cooperating.
In other fishing news, anglers I know have also been hitting the Arrow Lake to fish for kokanee and bull trout. The number and size of kokanee caught has been impressive for February with many anglers catching their limit of 15 kokanee up to 12-inches long.
You can target kokanee by either trolling at a slow speed and going relatively deep with a willow leaf and wedding ring, or you can jig for them with a hook tipped with bait like cured shrimp or roe. Others are having good luck using a flasher and hootchie combo to target bull trout of up to 14 pounds.