St.Mary River Button elk button upper columbia button kootenay river button Bull River Button Skookumchuck button



Born in the Purcell Mountains, the St.Mary River is a classic free stone stream which flows gently for some 50 miles before joining the Kootenay River. We consider the St.Mary to be one of the finest dry fly fisheries in North America. You will enjoy wild West Slope Cutthroats and Cutbows from 12 to 18 inches and catch rates of 10 to 50 fish per day. As an added bonus, there is a good chance you will not see another angler during your float. The lack of angling pressure is due to the absence of roads along the length of the River. Fortunately, we have secured a number of private launching sites that we have access to for your float trip.

The St.Mary becomes fishable in mid June with good hatches of stoneflies, caddis and midges. By July and all the way through August most attractor patterns work well. Terrestrials are the flies of choice from September to late October, with Blue Winged Olives emerging mid day, all through October.

View St.Mary River video

fish in hand




cutthroat trout





The Elk River begins its journey in the MacDonald Range of the Rocky Mountains. It flows some 135 miles (220 kilometers) south and drains into the Kootenay River. With wild West Slope Cutthroats from 13 to 20 inches and Bull Trout from 18 to 30, the Elk is our regions' best-known river. It has quickly gained a reputation as a must fish river when you come to this region of British Columbia. During the fishing season you can expect catch rates from 10 to 30 cutthroats per day with the odd Bull trout mixed in.

The season on the Elk River usually begins in late June with good hatches of stoneflies and some mayflies. Nymphing with a Prince Nymph, Bead Head Stoneflies and Hares Ears will work well all summer long. Any good attractor or terrestrial will work great all of August and September. October is a great time to fish Blue Winged Olives.

elk river scenary picture




cutty in hand




The Upper Columbia River starts in Rocky Mountains and flows some 1,243 miles (2,000 km) to its mouth at the Pacific Ocean. We fish the section of the upper Columbia River stretching some 35 miles (56 km) downstream of the confluence with the Kootenay River to the Washington State/U.S. border.

The Upper Columbia River in southern B.C. is one of the finest tailwater fisheries in North America. The average rainbow trout landed starts at about 16 inches, with 20-inch fish common. Big rainbows, up to 28 inches, are caught and released every year.

We fish the Upper Columbia River from our custom built 16 foot jet boat. This boat allows us to power to the top of the runs and drift our way back down. It’s perfect for accessing very shallow water. The boat has the added advantage of being rowable which allows us to control the drift down runs, over riffles and lets the guide hold you steady in the most productive waters of the back eddies.

The Upper Columbia River is a year round fishery, but the prime months to fish for the largest rainbows are the spring (April, May, June) and fall (September and October). In April and early May, the hatches of stoneflies, mayflies and midges are abundant. By late May and all of June, caddis flies dominate the hatch. In late September through October the water cools from the summer heat and the big rainbows feed on large caddis and stonefly hatches in the riffles and big runs with reckless abandon!

The fly fishing techniques we use to fish this River are varied. Our philosophy is simple. Give the fish what they are feeding on. Some times that is dry flies, other times, nymphs or streamers work best. We always have three sets of rods ready to go so that you will be able to fish according to daily, or hourly conditions. You will have the option of fishing from the broad cobbled shorelines, or from the boat, depending on where you are on the River.

The Upper Columbia River is truly an exceptional tailwater fishery. If you are up for the challenge of big rainbows, and aren't afraid to do a little work to catch them, then this fishing experience is for you.

We break the 35 miles of the Upper Columbia River into four distinct fishing reaches. The four sections include: The Castlegar Run, the stretch from Genelle to Murphy Creek, Mary's Run and the Fort Shepherd Flats portion. Click here for more details.




Upper Columbia River Rainbow


You can check out some videos of fishing the Upper Columbia River on YouTube by clicking below:

Video 1: Flyfishing the Upper Columbia

Video 2: Spey fishing the Upper Columbia

Video 3: Big rainbow in the Fort Shepherd Run

Video 4: Early spring on the Upper Columbia

Video 5: Fishing the big water of the Upper Columbia

Video 6: Colorful Upper Columbia rainbow

Video 7: Fly fishing for big rainbows from shore

Video 8: Eddy fishing close to shore

Video 9: Silver rainbows




Emerging from the Macdonald Range of the Rockies, the Bull River flows about 50 miles southwest until it joins the Kootenay River. It is a scenic little stream with an extraordinarily robust population of wild west slope cutthroats. Most of the cuts are in the 10-12 inch range with some to 14. Catch rates are from 20-100 per day.

The Bull River has a lot of structure to it with many large rocks and boulders and is more narrow than the St. Mary and Elk rivers. In addition, it has a lot of Class 2 and 3 water which our guides will skillfully manoeuvre you through. A float on the Bull is a particularly beautiful trip as the River flows along the back side of the  "Steeples"  which are part of the Hughes Range of the Rockies making for some spectacular views.

The season on the Bull River is from late July through August. The River is blessed with robust hatches of caddis and mayflies. Any good attractor pattern works well; i.e. Royal Wulffs, Royal Coachman, Parachute Adams, etc. Since the fishing pressure on the Bull is very low and the number of cuts is quite high, you are in for some fun days on the scenic little emerald river.





girl with fish

look down the Bull river.





The Kootenay River is one of the best early season bull trout fisheries in North America. In April and May the bull trout congregate at the mouths of the tributary streams entering the Kootenay where they feast on emerging whitefish and kokanee fry. Fishing for big bull trout is very good with catch rates from 2 to 10 a day with most catch in the 23 to 35 inch range.

The portion of the Kootenay River you will fish is from Canal Flats to the community of Skookumchuck just upstream of Lake Koocanusa. We will access this stretch of the Kootenay from our custom built 16 foot jet boat or by Moravia drift boat, depending on the River conditions. The Kootenay River also offers anglers some fine springtime fishing for rainbows and cutthroats.



large bull trout

snow capped mountains above kootenay rivertenay river





This small free stone tributary of the Kootenay River has some of the largest wild West Slope Cutthroat in the region. An average fish will go 16 inches with some big guys over 20.

The Skookumchuck is our primary walk and wade stream. It offers the beginner or advanced angler the opportunity to fish a truly pristine piece of water with a good chance of catching Cutthroats that are measured in pounds not inches. This trip calls for a moderate one hour hike down along the River to reach the water we prefer to fish.

Because of a long spring run off, the Skookumchuck does not start fishing well until mid July. At this time attractor patterns work great. Hoppers and other terrestrials are best through August and September. October is usually cooler which bring good hatches of Blue Wing Olives and Green Drakes.











cutty on the skook River






This page was last updated on April 3, 2017

| Fly Shop | River Float Trips | Spring Lake Fishing | Photos | Lodging | Rates | Booking Info
Fishing Report | Tradeshows | What's New

TOLL FREE: 1(800)667-2311

Copyright © 2001 St. Mary Angler
All Rights Reserved.

Come fish the Upper Columbia River, the Elk, the St.Mary, the Bull, the Kootenay and/or the Skookumchuck, you won't be sorry you did!