Whitefish on the Fly
They feed like a trout. They fight like a trout. They're the same size as one too. Squint your eyes a little as you're reeling one in and you just might be able to fool yourself.But make no mistake, this is no trout we're talking about here.The Rocky Mountain Whitefish is one of the most common species found in Western Canada rivers. Be it the Peace, Bow, Columbia, Saskatchewan, or Thompson, odds are good there will be a good population of this fish nearby.Despite the innocent look on their faces, whitefish are always ready to take a fly, and will aggressively attack both dry and wet patterns. I won't bother going into patterns, because they readily take such a wide variety that no universal pattern will do. Pay attention to the prevailing hatch on any given body of water and success will follow.4 to 8 weight rods will do, with the smaller sizes offering a better fight for these fish which average between 12 and 16 inches. However, 7 and 8 weight rods are popular in areas where bigger fish are present such as the Bull River in the East Kootenays where 10 pound bull trout can strike at any minute, even as you reel in a whitefish. Whitefish to 5 pounds are possible, and even bigger specimens exist in our rivers.Whitefish are decent table-fare. While they're not my favourite fish to eat, they can be delicious smoked. Many people say they are bony, but I find them no different than a trout, and often more plentiful.While the summertime can be a great time to catch whitefish in a river, they can be taken year-round. Probably the best time to catch whitefish is during the annual whitefish run which takes place during mid-winter as they congregate in large pools to spawn and can be caught in bunches. The frigid water also makes the meat fresh, firm, and free of any muddy or silty taste.Make sure to check your local regulations before going out, as many rivers have closures during the year, and specific regulations.