Fishing The Famous Elk River
Gord Silverthorne’s Kootenay Fly Shop was the first stand-alone fly shop and outfitting business established in Fernie, BC. Fulfilling a childhood dream, Gord opened his fly shop in 1995 and has since expanded to offer first-rate accommodations in the attached Tightlines Lodge. The Lodge makes a perfect base camp from which to experience one of the best trout fisheries in North America. The Elk River is home to some of the largest (and one of the last) remaining populations of wild, pure strain Westslope cutthroat trout in the world. An incredible trout fishery with very good hatches and incredible dry fly fishing, the Elk is a must-fish for any serious fly angler. The Elk is also home to one of the strongest populations of bull trout found in North America. On this fishery, it is not uncommon to see “bullies” over 30 inches and weighing in excess of 20 pounds.
Centrally-located in the town of Fernie, and just a short walk from the legendary Elk River sits the Kootenay Fly Shop and Tightlines Lodge. The Lodge is unique and filled with character, perfect for fishing groups, families or couples. A spacious 3,300 square-foot dwelling with three floors, the Lodge offers a foyer, three decks with a full sized BBQ, and a hot tub to relax after a day of fishing. The Lodge has five bedrooms and sleeps up to ten people.
Food and Beverages
Fernie has very good dining options that are all within close proximity to the Lodge. There are several burger bars and also a few good restaurants like Yamagoya Sushi and The Curry Bowl. Tightlines Lodge is happy to arrange a cook for you if you would rather have meals prepared for you in the Lodge. Lunch and non-alcoholic beverages are included during each of your guided days.
Typical Length of Stay
Trips of any length can be arranged. Tightlines Lodge does require a three (3) night minimum stay.
Non-Angling Activities and Options
Situated in the spectacular Canadian Rockies in Southeastern British Columbia, Fernie is quickly gaining a reputation as a year-round adventure destination. Recently voted the “Best Small Town in BC,” Fernie’s Rocky Mountain setting and untouched natural beauty offer visitors year-round opportunity for adventure. Horseback riding, mountain biking, white water rafting, golfing, shopping, and hiking are convenient and available.
Internet / Communications
Wi-Fi is available free of charge at the Lodge, and cell phones work while in Fernie.
How To Get There
We suggest flying into Glacier International (FCA) in Kalispell, Montana and renting a car for the drive to Fernie. Fernie is approximately 118 miles from Kalispell and the drive typically takes about two hours and 15 minutes. There is a small airport in Cranbrook, BC (YXC) that has customs and accepts small private planes.
Arrival and Departure Details / Times
Guests can arrive at the Tightlines Lodge anytime after 4:00 PM. Check out time is before 11:00 AM.
A passport is required for U.S. citizens to enter Canada. A British Columbia fishing license is required and may be purchased upon arrival.
Drunk Driving or other Criminal Record
Anyone with a criminal record (including a drunk driving conviction) may be excluded from Canada. A waiver of exclusion may be issued but several weeks are required and a processing fee must be paid. Contact the Canadian Embassy or a Canadian Consulate in the U.S. for more information.
Yellow Dog works directly with and recommends Kanna Travel. They can assist with airline tickets, hotels, transfers and all travel logistics for every destination that we offer. Contact them at 855-739-3139 or [email protected] for more details on airfare ticketing, travel services, and trip insurance.
The Elk River is thought by many to be the best dry fly river in North America. The river system supports a very healthy population of large Westslope cutthroat trout averaging between 10 and 18 inches, with many up to 22 inches. Serious streamer fishermen are also drawn to the area in search of double-digit bull trout. The Elk River offers great diversity for the fly angler, as it is large enough for floating but has many braided sections – especially on the upper river – that are ideal for wading. The main dry fly season on the Elk typically kicks off in mid-June.
This fast flowing, mid-size river has many boulder sections and lots of great structure. With scenery that is absolutely breathtaking, floating down the Bull River along the Steeples Range is one of the most beautiful drifts in the area. The fishing pressure is low with sections of the river having a very high concentration of Westslope cutthroat trout. The Bull River offers float trips or walk and wade trips with the best fishing found from late July through to the end of August.
Designated as fly fishing only, the Wigwam offers incredible water quality and some of the best hatches in the area. Some of the largest Westslope cutthroat trout in the entire Elk River system are found here. With meadow sections, fast flowing runs with large boulders, and deep, clear holes, this river will have you believing that you are fishing in New Zealand.
Michel Creek is probably the most fertile and nutrient-rich tributary of the Elk River. High populations of trout (some in the 20″ class), good hatches, and very easy walk-wade access make Michel Creek a favorite with anglers visiting the area.
The Elk Valley region of British Columbia has an abundance of excellent lakes. While the alpine lakes offer cutthroat trout, the lower elevation lakes can produce very large rainbows and brook trout. Many of these lakes are accessible by vehicle and are a short distance from Fernie.
A scenic helicopter ride can be arranged to take you to one of the area’s remote high mountain lakes. Imagine fishing a lake with no one else around, enjoying fresh-cooked fish for lunch, surrounded by some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Rockies.
Boats and Equipment
Float fishing on area rivers is done via McKenzie-style drift boats. The fly shop offers a complete line-up of high-end gear and equipment, as well as a full selection of effective area fly patterns.
Remember that Yellow Dog’s services are completely free! When you book a trip with Yellow Dog, you never pay more than when you book directly with the lodge or outfitter. All prices are per person and quoted in US Dollars (USD). Accommodation and fishing packages with the Kootenay Fly Shop and Tightlines Lodge are all customized based on the destination, the number of nights lodging, and the number of guided fishing days. Please call Yellow Dog for details and custom package pricing.
- Number of nights lodging as specified
- All guided fishing
- Packed cooler lunch each day
- All non-alcoholic beverages
- Use of all equipment (waders, rod, reel and all flies)
- Ground transportation from Fly Shop to the river each day
What’s Not Included:
- Transportation to Fernie, BC
- Fishing licenses
- Alcoholic beverages
- Gratuities for the lodge staff and your guide
- Breakfast and dinner (meals at the lodge can be arranged)
- Daily housekeeping
- Taxes and GST’s