|Lac Le Jeune|
|Pass and Isobel Lakes|
|Tranquille and Saul|
|Tulip and Rose Lakes|
One the largest North American rivers, the Columbia rises in the Rocky mountains near Invermere,BC. Its waters have long been used for hydro-electric power with over 14 dams built on its main stem both in the US and Canada. Before the dams were completed, runs of chinook reached Columbia's upper section above Golden, BC almost 2,000km from the river's mouth in Oregon.
In its fist 100km the river is quite tame, flowing through a wide valley until reaching Golden where it is joined by the Kicking Horse river (Yoho National Park). At this point the river cuts a narrow valley into the high Selkirk mountains and is harnessed by the first of the 14 dams, Mica, forming Kinbasket lake. The lake has many "arms" and is close to the headwaters of both the Fraser and North Thompson rivers near Valemount. It receives the waters of a few streams the biggest of which is Canoe river.
Below Mica dam, the Columbia immediately enters Revelstoke lake which turns another 100km of river into still water. Notable tributaries include Downie creek and Goldstream. The area is extremely wild and with one exception most of the creeks are hard to impossible to reach from the road because of steep canyon walls. Bear encounters are quite frequent, particularly in spring. Closer to the lower end of the lake Marta creek campground provides excellent camping facilities and a boat launch. The section between the Revelstoke dam and HWY1 bridge at Revelstoke is off limits to fishing due to fluctuating water levels and potentially dangerous conditions. In the city of Revelstoke Columbia is joined by the Illecillewaet river originating near Rogers Pass (Glacier National Park).
A few kilometers below Revelstoke, the mighty flow of Columbia is again tamed by Keenleyside Dam forming the Arrow Lakes. Being 230km in length, the lakes are nutrients poor due to the preceding two dams on the river, the destroyed salmon runs and other factors. There is now a program put in place aimed at restoring the fragile balance of the lake. Arrow lakes can offer huge rainbow trout that are usually caught from boats
Once it leaves the lakes, the waters of Columbia river provide excellent fishing for big yellow finned rainbow trout in the area of Castlegar and Trail. There are also other species like walleye and brook trout. The upper sections of the river including the lakes Kinbasket and Revelstoke are excellent bull trout waters. There is a population of white sturgeon which is an environmental concern in the Canadian section. The US section still has river systems with good salmon and steelhead returns.
Lakes are best fished by trolling big lures and flies. Bull trout can be found close to river mouths or in the lake outflows. For reasons unknown to me, Columbia river bulls seem to fight much harder than the ones I catch in the Thompson watershed. Kokanee salmon can be abundant in some of the lakes. The sections of free moving water are best fly fished for rainbow trout but spinners and spoons will produce well too. Like most big rivers, finding fish can be difficult. Days with good insect hatches will let the angler detect his quarry easier.