Destination: Castlegar

Three hours east of Kelowna and seven hours west of Calgary lies some of the best multi-species fishing in Western Canada.  With some of the most productive stretches of the Columbia River running right through the centre of town, no matter where you are in Castlegar, you're a short walk from quality fishing.Getting There:Castlegar is known as the "Hub of the Kootenays" and it's not hard to see why.  In the centre of Castlegar is the junction of Highways 3, 3A and 22.  Castlegar lies midway between the cities of Trail and Nelson and is a reasonable drive from the larger centres of Kelowna and Kamloops.  It's also about equal distance between both Calgary and Vancouver.  As "the hub" Castlegar also has the largest regional airport, and while it is small by comparison to other airports, it is quite large for a city of 10 000 people.Fishing the Columbia:The main attraction of this stretch of the Columbia is the trophy Rainbow Trout fishing which has been highlighted in numerous fishing shows throughout the years including Sportfishing B.C., Sportfishing on the Fly, Columbia Country and many others.  Trout in the 18 to 24 inch range commonly rise to dry flies all-summer long, while the winter fishery also abounds for those willing to go deep after them.  Trout in the 7 to 10 pound range aren't uncommon, and specimens of over 15 are caught each season.The Columbia near Castlegar is also a top-notch Walleye fishery, even from the shore.  Anglers consistently limit out on Walleye all year long, with fish averaging in the 1.5 to 3 pound range, and exceeding the 10 pound mark on occasion.  This stretch of the Columbia has yielded Walleye up to 15 pounds in the past and while it isn't as good as it once was, is still a great fishery.  Jigging with grubs or rubber worms works well, while casting crankbaits and spoons produces when the fish move up to feed in low-light conditions.Food and Accomodations:There are numerous hotels in Castlegar as it's a popular stopping point for tourists to the Kootenays, and has a half-dozen right on the main street.  There are also a lot of franchised restaurants near the Castlegar junction, but there are some unique choices for those looking for something different. Mazatlan is a popular Mexican restaurant with a nice themed room and great food.  While Element Bar and Grill is rapidly becoming one of the most popular restaurants in the area and also has a great menu.Other Local Fishing:A typical Arrow Lakes bull trout in beautiful winter colours.The Arrow and Kootenay Lakes are a short drive from Castlegar and are both trophy trout fisheries.  Rainbow Trout of over 35 pounds have been caught out of Kootenay Lake, while 20 pounders are barely news on either lake.  Trolling bucktails is a popular local technique.  Kokanee, Burbot, and Whitefish are also present in both lakes, while Kootenay has a resident population of Yellow Perch and Largemouth Bass in the weedy shallow areas.Christina Lake is another popular local lake, and while it's better known for it's recreation, it's a quality trout fishery with exceptional fishing for both Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass.  There is also a population of Kokanee and Burbot in this lake, with both Pumpkinseed Sunfish and Brown Bullhead for dock-fishing youngsters.Me with a quality Christina Lake largemouth and more than enough rods...The Pend Oreille River is another popular local spot with a decent population of Bull Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Smallmouth Bass.  Other popular local areas include the Slocan and Salmo Rivers, Slocan, Rosebud and Erie Lakes, but if you want quality trout fishing, check out a map or fishing mapbook to find some out-of-the-way lakes that don't receive as much fishing pressure.  Anglers looking for a guide on the Columbia can contact Brad Stubbs at Kootenay KingFisher Guiding to book a trip.
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