St. Mary Angler

St. Mary Angler Professional guiding service in Southeastern British Columbia, specializing in dry-fly fishing for wild Westslope Cutthroat. Since 1992 the St.

Mary Angler has been introducing fly-fishing enthusiasts of all ages and abilities to the pristine waters of Southeastern British Columbia. We provide guided trips on the St. Mary, Elk, Bull, Skookumchuck, Kootenay, and upper Columbia Rivers, and feel truly privileged to refer to these tremendous fisheries as our "home" waters.

Temporarily closed


Report #7 (July 6, 2021)

St.Mary River Report; lots of cutthroat trout are being caught on the dry!

It’s the first week of July and the rivers are shaping up nicely. The St.Mary River has been dropping daily and has completely cleared up. The Elk is also dropping and clearing up steadily, as are the Bull and Skookcumchuck rivers. Things are rounding into form.

Presently we are focused on the St Mary River, guiding it daily with our eager clients!

The guides are still running two sections of the Mary on each float, as the flow is still moving along fairly quickly. Today the guys floated from Wycliffe down to the confluence with the Kootenay River.

The temperatures started out elevated at 25°C (77°F) and reached a high of 35°C (95°F) by mid-afternoon. The skies were blue and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. Thunderclouds formed in the afternoon and by later in the evening a storm had cruised through. It’s very warm for this time of year!

The anglers dry fly fished all day with their 4 and 5 weight rods setup with dry lines and 9-foot leaders. During the day they hooked into many wild Westslope Cutthroats, as well as a few cut-bows. The cut-bows always jump like crazy no matter their size. So, if you hook one of these fish on the surface it is a great rush! They averaged 20 fish apiece with the average size in the 13 to 15 inch class.

Fishing big terrestrial patterns at this time of year is so much fun. You cast upstream, mend the line so you have no drag on the fly, then give it a pop on the surface to look like it is jumping around. The cutthroats can't refuse these bugs as they look so realistic… just like a stone fly!!

The anglers used a wide variety of flies including; Stimi Chew Toys, Foam Patterns, Chernobyl Ants, Fat Alberts (in red, black or tan), Purple Haze, Royal Wulffs, Parachute Adams and Caddis patterns.

The guys spent most of their time fishing the runs, behind rocks and along the bank edges. At the lunch spot the guys needed to cool down so they jumped in the water for a swim, and that did the trick. You definitely need to hydrate and cool yourself down in this weather.

The wildlife along the St.Mary River is abundant now with deer and their fawns roaming the bank edges and lots of bird life. The ospreys are now busy in their nests with their chicks and seem to pick the best fishing holes as their territory.

We are already cruising into summer so make sure to get out and fish and enjoy the backcountry as much as possible.

Before you head out to fish your favourite stream in our corner of B.C., drop into our flyshop in Cranbrook to check out the latest products. Also, be sure to ask what is working on the various rivers and streams as we have a lot of knowledge to go along with a wide selection of flies to improve your chances of success.
As for our American clients, we miss you and hopefully the borders will open soon. We should hear more on July 21 when the current regulations are revisited. We are still in Stage 3 of the B.C. reopening plan and we will let you know right away if anything changes.

See you on the water soon.

Tight lines,

Kelly and Karen

PS Stay cool!

Life is good --- out on the St Mary River enjoying some awesome dry fly fishing!!The  best dry fly fishing in North Amer...

Life is good --- out on the St Mary River enjoying some awesome dry fly fishing!!
The best dry fly fishing in North America!!
Thanks to the guides-- Ray and Brandon!!
Where else do you want to be!!

The St Mary River is shaping up nicely--- the dry fly fishing is definitely on!!! Call the St Mary Angler Flyshop if you...

The St Mary River is shaping up nicely--- the dry fly fishing is definitely on!!! Call the St Mary Angler Flyshop if you want to book a trip!!

Report #5 (June 19, 2021)All the Rivers are now Open!With June 15th arriving, all the small streams and rivers in Region...
Government of Canada's first phase to easing border measures for travellers entering Canada -

Report #5 (June 19, 2021)

All the Rivers are now Open!

With June 15th arriving, all the small streams and rivers in Region 4 are now open to fishing, so here we go again! Many people have been anxiously awaiting this day to get out and walk a bank edge of their favorite river! Unfortunately, the day before opening on the St.Mary, we had a big storm up the valley so flows went up and the water turned to chocolate milk. So, we will have to wait a few days for things to calm down.

We have not seen terribly high peak flows in this spring’s freshet. The snow in the high country has melted steadily which has meant no topping of the banks.

The Elk River is also currently quite dirty. That said, the rivers are clearing up and dropping every day. We expect conditions to clear up in the next week and the fishing to be very good after that.

In terms of the local lakes, some are still fishing well. Whiteswan Lake in particular is experiencing very good fishing. We were out there for a couple of days of fun fishing and camping recently. We cruised out on the Lake and fished along the drop of ledges. We anchored the boat with the wind at our backs, fishing in about 15ft of water. We added an indicator and swivel to our chironomids to get them down to the required depth.

The weather was absolutely beautiful and the scenery is really spectacular at Whiteswan. The fishing was quite good as we landed about 15 fish between the two of us in a couple of hours of fishing each day. The fish were very healthy, a few of them jumped and they all tugged hard on the line.

The producing flies included Chromies, small green chironomids (size 16-18), gun metal chironomids, as well as the Doc Spratley, black or green leech patterns and dragon flies.

The wildlife on the Lake only enhances the experience on Whiteswan with eagles in their nests, loons cruising along the shore edges looking for their next meal and deer coming down to sip the cool mountain waters. You may think you are in a beer commercial!

Many people were out on the Whiteswan Lake enjoying the weather and water. We saw everything from paddle boarding to kayaking, in addition to the fishing.

This week coming the temperatures are going to be very hot, with many record highs to be broken. We are told to expect heat in the high 30’s°C to low 40’s°C (95-105°F), and we will likely see the end of our cool nights.

Just make sure before you head out to include a hat, sun protection and lots of water in your kit. Sun stroke can happen quickly, so be prepared.

We will be checking out the St. Mary River over the upcoming week and will let you know how the fishing is. If you are in the Cranbrook area, stop by our fly shop to discuss the status of the rivers and lakes and how to fish them at this time of year.

The Status of the Canada/U.S. Border

With the threat of Covid 19 lingering, the mask and distancing restrictions remain in effect for now and the Canada/U.S. border likely remains closed to people traveling for recreation until July 22nd, when it will be revisited.

We realize the border closure is very frustrating to our American clients and we miss you greatly! But hang in there as the border reopening is on the horizon! Please get vaccinated ASAP because we are hearing it will be a condition of entry into Canada for some time. We are told it is a great defence against the virus, especially the variants. We also understand that it is very likely that people will only be allowed into Canada 14 days after they are fully vaccinated. The Government of Canada has designed an App called “ArriveCAN” for travelers to Canada to electronically upload proof and date of vaccination, etc.

The opening of the border is definitely on the horizon and we look forward to welcoming you back into Canada soon! When the conditions of entry into Canada are announced by the Canadian Government, we will post a link for your review. You can read the news releases on travel conditions from the Government of Canada by clicking the link below:

Take care and see you out on the water,

Tight Lines

Karen and Kelly
St.Mary Angler

PS Stay safe, we are almost through this thing!

Today, the Government of Canada is announcing the details of the first phase of its approach to easing border measures for travellers entering Canada. These cautious adjustments are now possible because of the successes of the vaccine roll out in Canada and Canadians following public health measures...


Report #4 (June 4, 2021)

The Spring Freshet is in Full Swing and Summer is Now Within sight!

We are inching closer and closer to June 15th, the opening day for all the rivers and small streams in our East Kootenay Region. With this in mind we are also getting closer to the Canada/U.S. Border reopening…or so we hope!

The Rivers are now in full freshet. They are big, brawling and dirty brown as we speak! A lot of debris; logs and rocks are rolling downstream plowing new runs and routes as the runoff continues. Remember to stay clear of the watercourses now, they are not safe.

Hopefully the freshet will be well on its way to completion in a couple of weeks. Once the rivers drop and clear, we will be ready to get out to dry fly fish!

The lakes in our area are still producing well overall. Depending on the day and the lake, the fishing can be quite good!

Whether you have a boat or not, there are many lakes you can fish. Stop by our Cranbrook fly shop and we will let you know the latest on how each lake is fishing, and what flies you need to catch a few! The fishing conditions are changing all the time, so information is an important element that we can provide you in advance of your trip.

Columbia River Report:

We are in the process of finishing up the spring fishing season on the Columbia River. Again this year, the spring season has been outstanding!

This last week we have enjoyed above normal temperatures. This morning started off at 12°C (54°F), but by later in the afternoon it reached an amazing temperature of 39°C (102°F), now that is hot! We were thankful there were a few clouds in the sky to block out the sun at times!

We put the boat in at the Gyro Park launch in Trail. We floated downstream, fishing from run to run, in addition to testing the eddies in the morning. In the afternoon we headed back upstream. The fishing was pretty good in the morning, but by mid-afternoon it was fantastic!

The guys landed about 15 rainbows each. Most of them in the 17 to 19 inch slot, but a few in the 20-22 inch class were hooked and released. It was crazy fun times as these fish really like to run, jump and fight! When they first hit, you just can’t tell whether you have hooked a big guy, or a small one. They are all so feisty!

On this trip we decided to use the smaller Czech nymphs to see how they would produce, in addition to a few Caddis emerger patterns. Both types of patterns worked quite well.

There were a few caddis hatches early in the day, but as things really heated up, nothing was happening. I guess it was too hot to hatch!

The Columbia River is running very high right now. This means the boat’s pilot must be on constant alert for floating debris. Logs, big and small, floating downstream can be very dangerous and appear very quickly in your field of view.

At this time of year there is a lot of wildlife to be seen on the River. Be it eagles and osprey, ducks, turkeys or swallows you will not be disappointed in the bird life. In addition, deer and bear are frequent visitors to the shoreline.

Travel Restrictions:

We are hearing more positive news about the Canada/U.S. border reopening soon. There are a lot of political leaders calling for both the Canadian and American governments to reopen the border for vaccinated travellers. Hopefully we will hear something positive on June 22nd when the latest restrictions will be revisited. So, get yourself ready to travel again.

In the meantime, travel restrictions within B.C. will end on June 15th.

For those of you in our area, feel free to come into the fly shop and check out all the new products and flies we have in stock.
Summer fishing it is right around the corner and you want to be prepared!

Tight lines,

Kelly and Karen

St.Mary Angler

PS You can call us directly at 1-800-667-2311 to discuss available dates or book a summer float.


Report #3 (May 25, 2021)

The Lakes are Fishing Well and the Columbia River is Producing Lots of Nice Rainbows Now!

Spring fishing has been very good so far this year. The lakes around the East Kootenay region have been producing steadily for those able to get out on the water. The high-quality fishing, coupled with the forced isolation of the Pandemic, has meant people are extremely eager to head out to fish and camp.

Some of our lakes can be very hard to figure out, but with persistence and a little planning, you can almost always catch a couple fish. Here are some ideas to increase the odds.

When you go out fishing it is always a good idea to have a few patterns in your fly box so you can try multiple flies, and techniques, to fool the fish.

It is always a good idea to cruise around the lake and try to spot fish in the shallows, before you settle in.

Once you do spot some fish, anchor your boat and measure the water’s depth so you can build your leader and drop your chironomid about a foot off the bottom.

If you are fishing with someone, have them try a balanced leech on the end of their line while you run a chironomid. It is always advisable for each angler to have different flies on…. at least until you understand what the fish are biting!

Right now, dragon flies are working really well on a sinking line. Remember to cast towards the shore and strip your line back in slowly, when fishing this setup.

In addition to the above advice, feel free to stop into our fly shop and we will be happy to let you know what flies are working now. We can also give you an update on how the local lakes are fishing. Presently; Premier, Whiteswan, Whitetail, Moose, Echo and Lazy Lake, are all producing fish.

That said, the chironomid hatches have only been lasting for a couple of hours a day. So be aware that you will have to fish different methods at this time of year to have success. And the usual caveats apply on the lakes in the spring; ‘each day is different’ and while ‘one lake can be amazing one day, it can be very tough the next’.

The Columbia River:

Over on the Columbia River in the West Kootenay region of Southeastern B.C., the fish have been very active!

The weather has been a bit wild the last few days with storms rolling through bringing wind, rain and hail! But that’s spring!

The nice thing is that these spring storms usually only last for short periods and don’t seem to negatively impact the fishing.

Over the last few days the temperature in the morning has started off at around 8°C (46°F) climbing up towards 20°C (68°F) by the afternoon.

It is always a good idea to wear layers in the spring so you can take them off, and put them back on, as the weather dictates. You do not want to get a chill when out on the water!

We have been putting the boat in at Beaver Creek and fishing the lowest section of the Columbia before it crosses the International Border. There are many nice back eddies and runs in this stretch of the River that produce a lot of feeding fish.

Today the two anglers caught and released around 30 rainbow trout between them, which is an awesome day for the Columbia!

The average sized rainbow caught was in the 17-20 inch range.

They netted a very nice 22-inch rainbow that jumped and tugged on the line providing the angler with a great fight!

On this day, the guys fished mostly nymphs, with the occasional streamer tossed in. The nymphs used included; Prince, Hare's Ear and Copper John (sized 12-14). The streamers were in white, black or green (sized 8-12).

But when the caddis are hatching… look out as the dry fly fishing will be on!

The wild life on the Columbia never gets old as there is so much bird life to be seen. Eagles and ospreys overhead. The young in the nests. Ducklings feeding in the eddies. The place is packed with wildlife!

End to Travel Restrictions in B.C.:

On June 16th, the ban on recreational travel throughout the Province of B.C. is over. We are also hearing rumours that the U.S. may unilaterally open the border in late June, but we are not hearing anything about Canada’s response. So, who knows for sure. But the border reopening is coming, hopefully sooner than later.

If you are looking at booking a trip on our rivers this summer, give us a call.

Take care and Tight Lines,

Kelly and Karen

St.Mary Angler

PS You can call us directly at 1-800-667-2311 to book a float this summer.

Cicadas on the Columbia  River sooo cool!!!

Cicadas on the Columbia River sooo cool!!!

Cicadas on the Columbia River sooo cool!!!

Merry Christmas to all our fly fishing family across North America!! We are open Boxing Day  9:00 am to 5:00 pm - Come o...

Merry Christmas to all our fly fishing family across North America!!
We are open Boxing Day 9:00 am to 5:00 pm - Come on in and check out the great deals💜
Thank you to all our customers and friends for helping us through a challenging year!!
Be safe and we will see you in 2021!!


401 Cranbrook Street N
Cranbrook, BC
V1C 3R5

Opening Hours

Monday 08:30 - 17:30
Tuesday 08:30 - 17:30
Wednesday 08:30 - 17:30
Thursday 08:30 - 17:30
Friday 08:30 - 17:30
Saturday 08:30 - 17:30
Sunday 08:30 - 12:00




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Bugs! Same bug, doing its thing from emerging to flying away. What should I use???? Whiteswan Saturday.
St.Mary Angler Guide Service: a review of the 2019 fishing season. Overview of the Conditions. Last winter brought us a snowpack that was lower than usual. On May 1st the snowpack was 79% of ‘normal’ across B.C., a major reversal from what we saw in 2017 and 18. As of May 1st the snowpack in the East Kootenay region, which includes the St.Mary, Elk, Bull and Skookumchuck rivers, was at 70%, way less than 2018. Over in the West Kootenays, where we fish the upper Columbia River, it was 89%, again, a far cry from the 180% received in 2018! Read the rest of the 2019 review at ....
Report #19 (October 14th, 2019) The Columbia River Continues to Fish Very Well into the Fall We are deep into fall now on the Columbia River. The days are getting shorter and the weather is now much cooler. We are experiencing some sunny days, but rain in the valley and snow up in the mountains are pretty well the norm for this time of year. Today we decided to fish the lowest section of our portion of the Columbia River as we put the boat in at Beaver Creek just upstream from the International border. The Beaver Creek boat launch closes after Canadian Thanksgiving so we are lucky to get one more float down on the lower end this season. On this day the weather was absolutely gorgeous with the temperature starting around 9°C (48°F) warming up to a comfortable 14°C (57°F) in the afternoon. There was no wind or rain and at times we had to take our jackets off because it got too warm…. I just love these kind of October days. The fish were active early on today as we caught trout right from the start. We had lots of success using both our nymph rods, as well as using streamers. There are many trout now camped out in the shallows along the shoreline. So if you can get a good cast into this area as the boat drifts downstream from say 30 to 40 feet, you have a chance to hook into one of these big rainbows. At this time of year the fish have fed all summer long on caddis et al, and they are very healthy, strong and chunky. The Columbia is a massive system that makes for big powerful rainbows. The flow in the Columbia has dropped in this last few weeks, typical for this time of year. This has caused a change in the River hydrology, forcing the fish to move along the bank edges to feed. Today the two anglers caught 20 nice rainbows between them. The average size was between 18 and 21 inches. The fish were very aggressive when they hooked up and jumped out of the water many times. One 21-inch rainbow almost jumped into the boat at one point, it was crazy, but a lot of fun. When you hook into these fish, you definitely have to let the fish run and take line because if you don't, they can bust you off and be gone in a flash of silver. We broke up the day with a nice shore lunch on the River, then fished from shore for a while before we headed back out to fish in different spots through the afternoon. On the River today we saw some Caddis hatching, as well as a few Blue Winged Olives and some big October Caddis. The nymph patterns used included the Purple Prince, regular Prince, Copper Johns and Hare’s Ear, and for streamers we used Kelly's Super Streamer, Pat's Rubber Leg and sculpin patterns. We saw a few other fishers out on the Columbia on this glorious fall day, which was nice to see. We have a few more days guiding left on the Columbia River this month then our season we will wrap up. So we want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who fished with us this year for your patronage and making 2019 a successful season. All the best, Kelly and Karen St. Mary Angler PS keep in touch with us through and facebook to find out which tradeshows we will be attending this winter and available spaces on our annual Christmas Island trip.
Report #18 (September 30th, 2019) The temperature is cool, but the fishing is hot on the Columbia River! We have had a cool autumn this year with the temperatures dropping last week and continuing to stay low across the southeastern corner of B.C. We have also seen quite a bit of snow accumulating on the mountain tops making for some striking views when the sun shines, just beautiful! The mornings are starting out at around 3 to 4°C (37-39°F), reaching highs of 12 to 14°C (55-57°F), with the sunshine. On this day the guys decided to float the top section of the Columbia from the Robson boat launch, downstream. We hit the water at around 10-10:30 a.m., after things had a chance to warm up a bit, and stayed out on the River until 6 p.m. Shortly after launching the jet boat we cruised downriver in search of some promising water. We went quite a way down, scouting out certain eddies and runs, before powering back up to the most promising sites. The Columbia River is such a big piece of water that it can be overwhelming. So you have to break it down into smaller chunks to make it digestible and easier to fish. We had all the fly rods set up with different lines in advance so we were ready to go with streamers, nymphs or dry flies. So whatever presented itself, we were ready to respond. This way the guide can choose whatever fly rod he thinks the clients should fish depending on the conditions. Spey rods are also in the mix should the anglers bring them along as the current conditions are perfect for fishing from the shore now. Throughout the day, small Blue Winged Olives were hatching in addition to October Caddis and small midges. In response, the guys used Blue Winged Olives and October Caddis as their dry fly patterns. In terms of the nymph patterns they used Copper Johns, Purple Prince, regular Prince, Lightning Bugs and stone fly nymphs. The streamers included the Pickle, Kelly's Super Streamer and a few different types of big white and black streamers. The anglers did very well throughout the day, even when it was cooler in the morning, as the fish were on and biting. Between the two of them they landed 30 rainbows. They average size was 18 to 21 inches with a few in the 22-23 inch slot being landed. These rainbows are very brightly coloured, are thick and powerful now. They are feeding aggressively as temperatures have dropped and they are keen to bulk up for winter. During the float we saw bald eagles and ospreys above, as well as groups of turkeys feeding along the shoreline. We were also treated to seeing a group of mountain goats up on the hillside earlier on in the morning. As long as the weather holds and the temperatures are not too cold, we will be guiding on the Columbia River. The weather service is calling for some warmer seasonal temperatures next week so we will be out on the River enjoying this incredible piece of water for the rest of October. Tight Lines, Kelly and Karen St. Mary Angler
Report #17 (September 20th, 2019) Fall is here so we are off to the Columbia River to chase the big rainbows! As we head towards the end of September we are nearing the end of another successful season of fishing the rivers of the East Kootenays. While we still have some trips scheduled for the Elk and St.Mary rivers, the coming of fall signals that it is time to head over to the Columbia River to fish for big rainbow trout. We fish the stretch of the Columbia from the confluence with the Kootenay River down to where it crosses the U.S. border. We will be on the Columbia from now until late October, weather permitting. On this trip to the Columbia we decided to focus on the section between the settlement of Genelle down to the City of Trail. After having a great breakfast at Gabriel's at the Prestige Hotel in Rossland, we headed downhill into the valley to fish the Big River. The weather was typical for a mid-September day in the West Kootenay; cool in the morning with high cloud. As the day progressed, the sun made a couple appearances mixed in with some rain, yep a normal fall day. Just remember to dress in layers and always bring a rain jacket, waders and boots and you will be fine. The temperature today started off at 8 to 10°C (46-50°F) and warmed up to a high of 16 to 18°C (61-64°F). The flow of the Columbia River now is around 42,000 cubic feet per second (1,170 CMS), normal for this time of year. With these lower fall flows, a lot more shoreline is exposed so fishing along the bank edges becomes a lot more accessible. That said, there are still a lot of fish holding and feeding in the big back eddies. After launching the jet boat we cruised downriver on the lookout for favourable bank structures and nice eddies to fish. We like to enter the eddies from the top, cutting the engine upstream and rowing silently into the eddy so we do not disturb the holding and feeding rainbows. The Columbia River rainbows are easily spooked, so we always want to be quiet as we approach them in their runs and eddies. The Columbia is described as an ‘intermediate’ fly fisher’s river. You want to be able to cast at least 30 to 40 feet out and away from the boat. An ability to cast out and to a specific point on the water will increase your chance of hooking up on one of these beautiful trout. Today, as we floated along the bank edges, we threw streamers and nymphs close to the shoreline. When in the back eddies we tried some nymphing and tossed streamers. The fishing was quite good in the morning as the guys landed 10 fish each. Unfortunately, a storm rolled in around 1 p.m. and the wind and rain really picked up! At this point the fish just hunkered down and were very tough to catch. The guys worked quite hard for a couple of more hours, landing a few more rainbows. Fortunately, as the weather cleared up the fishing picked up again and the clients landed a few more fish before calling it a day. On this trip, the anglers landed between 15 to 20 rainbows each. A really nice outing. In terms of hatches, we saw some October Caddis and Blue Winged Olives coming off the water. Sometimes when a hatch is coming off we will switch to a dry fly setup and have the anglers cast for the fish as they are rising to the surface. There is definitely a fall feeling in the air now. With the leaves changing colour and a dusting of snow on the mountains, it is time to get out and fish now…. before the season is over! Have fun and stay safe on the water. Tight Lines Kelly and Karen St. Mary Angler