Kootenay River Bull Trout

 

The bull trout (salvelinus confluentus) is actually a char as are it’s cousins the brook trout and lake trout.   They are also known as Dolly Varden, although there are some distinctive differences and are now being classified separately.  Their  ability to interbreed has led to a some of the confusion over the years but in appearance the bull trout has a wider and larger mouth for eating larger fish and subsequently growing bigger than the Dollies.

Post Spawn Kootenay Bull Trout

Post Spawn Kootenay River Bull Trout

The Bull Trout of the Kootenays are top level predators that have been thriving in their environment of cold, clean water for centuries.  These fish can live up to 20 years old and have  an almost pre historic appearance to them They are often a migratory species and will travel hundreds of kilometres to reach their spawning destinations which are often smaller, colder streams with access to fresh groundwater or springs, clean and cold water is key.  They spawn anywhere from mid summer to early fall  often coming out of their summer residences of lakes or reservoirs.  In the systems we fish, the migrating bulls are gifted by the presence of Kokanee salmon to feed them on the way up and down providing a huge protein source leading to successful spawns year after year.  Once the spawn is over they again indulge on the rotting and partially dead kokanee that are nearing the end of their spawn and life cycle.

This is an ideal situation for these fish as they can pack on an incredible amount of weight in a short period of time.  This is the time we target these massive beasts as they bulk up and head back for their winter homes devouring as much as they can handle cashing in on the easy protein of the salmon carcasses.  It is at this time when these fish are at their heaviest.

 

PIG!!

Kootenay River Bull Trout  with Mr. MP!!!!!

 

This is not a numbers game although some days can really light up.  The Bulls will often follow and stalk the fly only to give up on it as it approaches the boat or in some cases wait til the fly gets closer to the surface before charging on it using the transition as an ambush point.  Watching a 3 foot silhouette lift off the bottom to come wreak havoc on your streamer is one of the most exciting things you can witness as a fly angler.  That being said it’s not necessarily everybody’s cup of tea. Casting nothing but large heavy streamers all day can be tough on the arm, combine that with the cooler fall weather and it will definitely test an anglers ability to perservere.  But for the avid angler looking for something a bit more technical and unique with huge rewards, the bull trout fisheries here will provide that  challenge.  That being said most everyone who has tried it returns.  Spots for this trip are limited as our peak season is about a month and there is only one or two jet boats available to run the trips.  It really is an amazing fishery and a great way to close out our guiding season.

 

The 'Belafonte" Jet Sled Trimmed by Adipose and Yours Truly

The ‘Belafonte” Jet Sled Trimmed by Adipose and Yours Truly