Hooking into the Revelstoke fishing scene

'Sitting in the passenger seat as we head down a logging road after a morning of fly-fishing, Linden Ernst looks over and reminds me how unpopular I will be with the local fishing scene if I name any fishing spot too accurately.'

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Revelstoke Mountaineer file photo: Rebecka Miller about to release a cutthroat trout near Revelstoke. Photo by Matthew Timmins

Sitting in the passenger seat as we head down a logging road after a morning of fly-fishing, Linden Ernst looks over and reminds me how unpopular I will be with the local fishing scene if I name any fishing spot too accurately.

Not that I needed reminding. Tasked with finding some local fishing spots, my first response after asking a friend to take me out was, “I’d definitely be up for it. Don’t wanna give up my spots though.”

Linden Ernst fly fishing on the Akolkolex River in Revelstoke. Photo by Matthew Timmins

This factor, combined with a high water level this summer proved finding some good fishing a little more difficult than finding the local biking and hiking trails Revelstoke is known for.

I turned to Pete Russell, a four-year Revelstoke resident, to find a good place to make a couple casts. Even with his knowledge of the area, our first two attempts left us with more mosquito bites than fish bites, with his usual spots underwater.

But the third time’s the charm, and we eventually found a little turn-off north of the Revelstoke dam and after bush-whacking down a slope we came to an opening where a small creek ran into Lake Revelstoke.

Ironically, it was Russell’s first time at this spot, proving true that I likely wasn’t going to be shown any top spots by locals.

Will Moores fishes along a creek running into Lake Revelstoke. Photo by Matthew Timmins

But it did meet the standard requirements for shore fishing – a stream or river flowing into a larger body of water, a common suggestion that everyone I spoke with had when asking where to start – and sure enough, fish were jumping, albeit not too many bites.

The next day I set off with Ernst for a morning of fly-fishing on the Akolkolex River. Following a backroads map book and relying on Ernst’s fishing instincts, we eventually came to an accessible part of the river where Ernst thought there could be some cutthroat trout.

Feeling like we were pretty remote, out of cell range and far from civilization, I was a little surprised when not long after we arrived three more people showed up with the same idea as us. Ernst, however, didn’t seem surprised. I guess people who know what to look for tend to find the right spots.

Putting in an extra few kilometers often pays off, too. Earnst sometimes drives for two hours to get to a spot.

Peter Russell on the shore of Lake Revelstoke. A good place to start when looking for a good fishing spot is where a river or creek flows into a body of water. Sometimes it pays to go to the spots that are a little more difficult to get to. Photo by Matthew Timmins

Dave Trerice, a fishing guide based in Golden, seconds that notion. “The closer the spots are to town, the more likely it is that someone is fishing there and putting pressure on it. If you want to be finding those honey holes and those spots that are loaded up with fish, you’ve got to be willing to go the extra mile and put your time in,” he says.

Ernst’s hunch was right, as just when we are getting ready to leave, fellow Revelstoke fisher Rebecka Miller pulled in a cutthroat. After Miller releases the fish (the Akolkolex is catch-and-release fishing only), Ernst and I head out to another middle-of-nowhere spot off a logging road, where he also reels in a cutthroat.

Shore fishing and fly-fishing wasn’t the only fishing I was hoping to try, but getting a boat to get to spots inaccessible by land proved difficult.

Dave Trerice, owner and guide of Remote Waters Guiding, takes guests out on his 24ft-enclosed boat on Kinbasket Lake and Lake Revelstoke.

Linden Ernst fly fishing on the Akolkolex River near Revelstoke. Photo by Matthew Timmins

With Trerice, there is no need to know precise fishing spots (not that he doesn’t know them). A day fishing with Remote Waters Guiding covers roughly 100 kilometers of water on the big lakes, trolling with downriggers for bull trout, rainbow and kokanee, and is the closest you can get to West Coast fishing in the area.

All you need to spend a day with Trerice is your fishing license, and with a group five or six people you can be reeling in 20-plus fish into the boat.

“It’s a totally different kind of style of fishing that not a lot of people are set up to do properly, with the big boats and the electronics,” says Trerice, who has his guiding license, as well an Angling Guides Operations Plan, which is a three-region plan that he needs to be able to cover all regions of the Kinbasket Lake: the Kootenays, the Thompson Okanagan and the Peace Region. He also is licensed to fish the entire Lake Revelstoke.

As far as suggesting fishing spots, Trerice says most of his spots are boat-access only, jokingly adding that it’s old fishing rules not to give up your spots.

Peter Russell casts off the rocks under smoky skies. Photo: Matt Timmins

Luckily, there are plenty of fishing spots in the Revelstoke area if you’re looking for a new spot, or recently moved to town.

Here is some of the advice I got from Trerice, Russell and Ernst.

-Look for areas where the water is clear, not silty or cloud.

-Popular holding spots for fish are where a creek, stream or river flows into a lake or larger body of water, or around a bend or corner of a river

-Flip rocks to look for bugs that fish in the area eat

-Put some time into getting to your spot – the further you go, the less likely the spot has been fished out

-Use a boat, canoe or kayak to access areas that you can’t access from shore

-Lake Revelstoke and the Columbia River are large bodies of water – use Google Maps or a backroads map to find all their tributaries and ways to access them

This article first appeared in the August, 2017 issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.

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Matthew Timmins
Matthew Timmins is an Ontario-born photographer with a background in photojournalism. After working at local newspapers in Canmore, Banff and Jasper, he moved to Revelstoke for three years. He has spent the last two years travelling in New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia and Northern Europe. He now lives in Revelstoke again and can be reached at 226-688-8528.