The many mountain lakes and rivers in Kimberley and the surrounding area provide excellent fishing for many different species of fish.
As the Tourism Kimberley website states, “the St. Mary River is a classic freestone stream which flows gently for some 80 kilometres before joining the Kootenay River. Anglers consider it to be one of the finest dry fly-fisheries for rainbow, cutthroat and bull trout in North America.”
As of June 15, streams in region four (Kootenays) will open up for anglers after the annual two and a half month spawning period.
Senior Fish Biologist for the Fish and Wildlife Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, Jeff Burrows explained that it is important to close the river during the spawning period because unmolested trout spawners will reproduce more successfuly, providing for future conservation and future fisheries, as well as the fact that anglers will not inadvertenly walk on and crush buried, developing eggs in the gravel.
When fishing in B.C., anglers must follow various regulations. Burrows explained that, “regulations can vary [so] check and know the provincial regional and often additional special regulations for your intended waterbody, and in season changes on the web too.”
Those regulations can be found on the environment of B.C. website, under region four. There are tables that can be found in the PDF, which identify special regulations per tributary and the corresponding lake.
“You can also find the regulations by googling ‘B.C. freshwater fishing regulations,” Burrows said. “Or get a printed copy at many tackle stores.”
“Have a current basic fishing license and any additional licenses for your intended fishing – for example, a Classified Waters license are required for some streams,” said Burrows.
Some important regulations that Burrows addressed included the following, “single barbless hooks are a requirement in all B.C. streams [and] bait rules include no use of fin fish (dead or alive) or parts of fin fish; some waterbodies have ‘no bait rules.”
When you purchase a freshwater angling license, a portion of the fee goes directly back to Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C., and a smaller portion goes to a conservation surcharge directed to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.
According to an article written by staff of the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C on the Go Fish B.C. website, catch and release regulations are an important management tool in developing trophy fisheries, minimizing impact on non-target species and protecting sensitive or at risk fish populations.
“Even when retention is allowed, there is a growing trend among anglers to release, unharmed, any fish that they land,” said the article. “By being prepared and mindful while out on the water, you can dramatically increase the survival and subsequent recapture rates of fish.
“There are many factors that contribute to wether a released fish will survive unharmed, including angling duration, handling, hook location, type of fishing gear used, air exposure and water temperature.”
“To dramatically increase post-release survival, play all fish quickly and if releasing, do not remove a fish you land from the water, or if unavoidable, minimize the time out of the water to avoid exposing gills to the air,” said Burrows.
Another way to learn more about Kootenay streams and proper fishing techniques, is to take a guided tour through outfits such as Kimberley Fly Fishing (KFF).
The local company offers several different tours ranging in price, some of which are walking tours and others are guided via rafts. The experienced guides will not only get you safely down the river, but also provide useful information on proper techniques, gear, and safety when fishing the abundant streams in the Kootenays.
Jesse Wallace has been fishing since he was a child, but this year will mark his first year as a guide for KFF.