Date: Monday April 10, 2023
Source: Jim Bailey
Target Species: Rainbow trout
Location: Sunningdale to US Border
Temperature: 2 – 13 Celsius
The Columbia River between the Keenleyside Dam and the U.S. border is as low as it gets, which can be both good and bad when you are navigating the river in a boat or going by foot.
Between April 1 and June 1, BC Hydro keeps the water low to avoid stranding spawning rainbow and whitefish redds, as well as young rainbow fry, and other species both native and invasive.
Angling on the Columbia becomes challenging when well known runs and riffles either disappear or become ankle deep, or once large back eddies turn into small inaccessible pools.
You may not recognize your once favourite spot, but it may also open other possibilities.
As the weather warms, so does the river especially when it’s low and slow, prompting various hatches starting with chironomids and chaoborus (midges and mosquitoes) in the slower back eddies and pools.
In mid-March I hit the run, now riffle, by the Waneta boat launch and caught and released a 22-inch rainbow on the second cast. It had the crimson colouring of a classic redband rainbow trout unique to these waters.
I landed another three in the next couple hours and missed a few but had another great day.
On another outing, I went to a favourite pool by Rock Island with my chironomid box and picked out a #12 ice-cream cone chironomid with red body. I cast it out, and let it settle.
After, a few minutes I slowly inched it in. The indicator sunk and I set the hook. Sure enough a trout ran and started peeling line in seconds. After a good fight, I landed and released a nice 18-inch chrome rainbow.
As we get into April, you will see giant and golden stonefly nymphs begin their own metamorphosis, and mayflies with terrestrials like cicadas and flying ants to follow.
For fly fishers it can be one of the best times of year, using a variety of nymph, emerging or dry fly patterns to target wild rainbows.
The water is still cold though. I was out on one of the chilliest March days, and I found out just how frigid when I tripped over a submerged rock and fell headfirst into the river. There is no more helpless feeling than the one just before you hit the water.
So, keep your wading belt and lines tight, and don’t forget to renew your freshwater fishing licence.
Also, if you haven’t yet, check out Valley Firearms. They have a wide variety of lures, line, flies, bait, fishing rods and reels and fly-tying gear now. Great to see a locally owned shop cater to anglers and hunters alike.