My experience catching a Big Gerrard Rainbow Trout in Kootenay Lake, Canada
By: Micah Valentine
There are a million really fun things to do in this life from white water raft to climb mountains. BUT few things compare to ripping into a HUGE RAINBOW! I say huge rainbow trout and most people think of a 4 pound fish. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a nice fish, but I’m talking about HUGE RAINBOWS! I’m talking about the above 20 to 30 pound category! There are few things more fun than trying to drag a slab like that in.
In 2006 my dad and I took a small posse went up to Kootenay Lake in search of a record rainbow. We hoped to catch a Bull Trout or two as well. (Bull Trout are commonly referred to as Dolly Vardens although they are technically different fish) Bull Trout are in the char family and have pink spots. For the most part they are aggressive-meat eating fish with light colored meat. They are also pretty good fighting fish, which makes catching Bull Trout fun.
Fishing for Kootenay Lake Rainbows isn’t like fishing for anything I’ve ever done before. I’m not sure if it’s because Kootenay Fish are smart, spooky, or something else entirely, but to catch these big rainbows you need to be way behind and way out from the boat.
Try to follow this: We used down riggers with plainer boards, and rubber bands. Let me explain.
From our fishing boat we had a large rod going straight up in the air.
Then we tied a special buoy-type thing which veers hard right on the right side of the boat, and one which veers left of the left side of the boat. There buoys or plainer boards would just veer hard away from the boat. The more cord we strung up the aluminum poles the farther out they would go. BUT before we sent the plainer boards out in the Kootenay lake water from the boat we attached our fishing line to them with a rubber band.
Our fishing line could slide through the rubber band, however. Then we would let the plainer boards drift a couple hundred feet out from the fishing boat with a simple fly dragging from our fishing line.
Of course we did have a couple casualties. Here a smaller Kootenay Fish managed to get tangled in 2 fishing lines. We would let a few more hundred feet of fishing line out for a total of 500 to 600 feet of line (about 200 feet away from the fishing boat and 300 feet back). Then we found the right depth of the Kokanee fish. A Kokanee is a land-locked Sockeye Salmon. They are very good to eat, but on this trip we were after the fish eating the Kootenayy Kokanee!
We got several fish that trip. Our goal was for each person in the fishing boat to get a 20+ pound Gerrard Rainbow trout. Gerrard rainbows are the largest natural strand of rainbow trout in the world, and we were after a monster!
My dad, Steve Valentine was the first to catch a big rainbow. His first was in the 14-16 pound range. I actually landed it and he netted it and took the picture. Wayne Lemmon is in the background. He was the next to grab a nice large rainbow trout.
We let every fish we caught go that trip. When we could, we did measure and weigh them. It’s a bitter-sweet feeling letting a huge rainbow go free after a ½ hour fight, but they’ve certainly earned the right to live and it’s nice to know someone else will enjoy their offspring.
My dad ripped into another huge rainbow and the fish seemed to be getting bigger and bigger with each catch. The next one measured in somewhere in the low 20 pound range! We were all so excited for dad because he wanted, more than anyone, to land a monster rainbow trout, and this Gerrard was a beauty!
It was finally my turn to tear into a huge Gerrard trout and to this day it’s my favorite catch of my life! When that huge Gerrard took my hook my eyes lit up and it was fish on! I was so excited the adrenaline was flowing like Red Bull at a night club! 15 minutes later my arms were getting tired and I felt like I really did need a Red Bull. Then 25 minutes passed, then 35 minutes crawled by, finally 45 minutes later we could see this beautiful and huge rainbow next to our boat. We landed it and everyone was thrilled!
I tried to hoist this beast up and realized my arms were just about dead. I was able to hold it up long enough for a few decent photo ops.
We couldn’t have this big trout out of the water too long so we had to let her go back into the Kootenay water. Wayne Lemmon took one last picture and I held her in the water as she swam away. I don’t know if my hands have ever been so cold!
That big Gerrard rainbow trout may have been the best fish I caught those couple days but I also got into a really nice bull trout later on in the trip.
We got back to the camp and another fisherman had kept the biggest rainbow trout I’ve ever seen. My dad held it up just to document this monster. It must have been 30 something pounds.
If you want to catch a monster rainbow trout like this one contact Captain Mike Thompson. There are absolutely NO guides like him on Kootenay Lake, and few in the entire world. He knows how to carefully study and analyze the water, feed, temperatures, and all the many elements that go into landing a big Gerrard Rainbow Trout at Kootenay Lake. No other guide had landed as many Huge Gerrards and Bull Trout as Captain Mike. He is the best and if you want to fish at Kootenay then why get anyone other than the best?
Contact Captain Mike at: 1-877-368-3474