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Fishing the East Kootenay: We’ll get you hooked

By Michele Leyenaar

CRANBROOK – The Kootenay Country is home to rugged mountains, river valleys and lakes. It offers spectacular sunrises and sunsets, and the fishing is phenomenal, with over 50 productive trout lakes. It’s no wonder travelers come to this area; it’ll put a fisherman’s skill to the test.

This blog will touch on only a very few spots that immediately surround the Cranbrook area. For more information on fishing the East Koots click here.

578-5780 Steeples Kootenay River.

Kootenay River. Photo: Janice Strong

Stoney Lake (Aka Hahas Lake), located northeast of Kimberley is stocked with rainbow trout. This lake is not very deep and therefore suitable for shore fishing. However, due to the lake’s shape and sandy shores, some areas are more difficult to access deeper water. Many different fly patters will work here as well as small gear.

JimSmith Lake, just west of Cranbrook is a popular spot for families to fish rainbow trout and large mouth bass. The campground at JimSmith Lake is easily accessible from highway 95 just outside the city of Cranbrook.

Janice Strong-Jim-Smith-Lake-9717

A young one fishing at JimSmith Lake. Photo: Janice Strong

Peckhams Lake, east of Cranbrook towards Fort Steele, is also chockfull of trout. Early morning and late evening fishing in the deepest part of the lake will make anglers spoiled by their luck. If you like fishing for cutthroat trout and doing a bit of camping, head to Norbury Lake, just south of Peckhams Lake, also home to Norbury Lake Provincial Park and campground.


Our lakes contain many size-able trout. Photo credit courtesy of Kimberley Fly Fishing

St. Mary’s River, a short distance below Mark Creek in Kimberley/Marysville, runs along highway 95A and empties into the Kootenay River. The St. Mary’s is known for whitefish, suckers, burbot, dolly varden and cutthroat trout. If you’re not familiar with this area accessing the river can be difficult because of having to walk steep banks from the bridges off the highway. But fly fishers don’t seem to have a problem because you’ll see plenty of them here.

Fly fishing the St. Mary's River. Photo: Brad Scott

Fly fishing the St. Mary’s River. Photo: Brad Scott

Moyie Lake, 25 minutes west of Cranbrook, is a large lake with bulltrout, Kokanee, rainbow trout, brook trout and cutthroat. It’s easily accessible from Highway 3 and also has campgrounds nearby. Moyie is also a popular spot for swimming and watersports.

Lake Koocanusa, Whiteswan Lake, Whitetail Lake and Premier Lake are lakes surrounding the Cranbrook area and take about 45 minutes to reach by highway. However, these lakes are all known for fantastic fishing and camping and are worth doing a bit more homework to find the best fishing holes.

Janice Strong-White Swan Alpenglow

White Swan. Photo: Janice Strong

Looking to get outfitted for your fishing adventure? Mountain Man Outdoors has all your outdoor gear and tackle. Also, check out St. Mary Fly Shop, Ultimate West Fly Fishing and Kimberley Fly Fishing for charters, information, lodging and gear.

To purchase a fishing licence, you can do so from Mountain Man Outdoors, from the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BCGold Creek Market and the Service BC Centre. Licences, regulations and much more information can also be found from the BC Government Fish and Wildlife Branch website. It is recommended to refer to this website before heading out for important safety tips and notices as well.