Just because the weather is cold doesn’t mean the angling has to wait. The big catch could be yours – winter fishing on Kootenay Lake!

When you think of winters in British Columbia, it makes sense that skiing, snowmobiling and hockey come to mind. And they certainly should!

But, did you know? On breathtaking and beautiful Kootenay Lake, nestled between the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges in the Kootenay region of the province, you can enjoy some incredible winter fishing!

Among the largest lakes in BC, it’s 104 km long and ranges from 3–5 km wide. Essentially, it’s where the Kootenay River widens, draining into the mighty Columbia. Kootenay Lake is a deep lake. It averages about 10 metres or 33 feet with its maximum reaching depths of about 490 feet or 150 metres.

Given its size and flow rate, Kootenay Lake never completely freezes in the winter. that means you can enjoy a variety of water sports year-round – paddling, sailing, and fishing. In fact, the fishing can be pretty darned good! During the colder months, the bigger fish come up from the colder depths. As a result, if you’re patient, you might land the big one even in the middle of winter – large Bull and  Gerrard Rainbow Trout or maybe even as big as a 20 pound Dolly Varden.

Winter fishing on Kootenay Lake – what to expect

As we approach December, the water temperatures begin to decrease. And, according to anglers, the Rainbow Trout routine changes from that of warmer weather. As their metabolisms slow, the fish don’t need to eat as frequently so you can typically enjoy a great day as they feed and slower days while they digest.

But, with the changing seasonal cycles of the Rainbow, the big Bull Trout make their way to warmer depths and can be somewhat consistent. Your typical trolling depths for Rainbow are pretty shallow, near the surface from autumn right through to late spring. According to the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, the best lures for trolling for both Rainbow and Bull Trout are Luhr Jensen Krocodile spoons, Apex Hot Spot Trolling Lures, and Tomic or Lyman plugs – opt for a four-inch to mimic the small, year-old Kokanee. Trolling bucktails are another great lure for Rainbow in Kootenay Lake.

Winter catches typically see Rainbow Trout between two to four pounds and Bull Trout from three pounds to as big as 20 pounds! Expect more of the smaller varieties, but there’s always a chance for the big catch.

Get your fishing license BEFORE you go!

Be sure to purchase your fishing license before you fish. You can pick it up at fishing supply and sporting stores. Visit Travel British Columbia’s travel resources for up-to-date licensing information.

FYI: There is currently a ban on Kokanee.  Due to low numbers in Kootenay Lake, restrictions apply on catching Kokanee. To learn more about what to fish and when see the government website.

In the market for a new fishing rig?

Be sure to check out our listing for new and used fishing boats! For example:

Just arrived! The brand new 2022 Kingfisher 3025 GFX – outstanding design and function built for serious angling and fun with the family, too! Or, for the serious fisherman, the 2022 Thunder Jet Chinook. From extra deep sides to the extra rod trays and progressive deep “V” hull to its exceptional stability, this boat provides the safety you need to head out on the water with your friends and family.