• George's Record Rainbow

    The date was January 25, 1976, Rhoda Hill told me, when she slipped a net under the biggest rainbow trout ever caught by rod and reel in Canada. Her late husband George Hill caught the record rainbow in Kootenay Lake B.C. on a Silver Horde lure that still hangs in the mounted fish’s jaw on Rhoda's living room wall. The huge trout weighed 35.12 pounds when weighed on the scales at the Grey Creek store and the weight was confirmed the next day in Balfour across the lake.

    Kootenay Lake is a deep, blue glacier fed lake about 100 miles long, less than two miles wide, which never freezes. It=s surrounded by forest and mountains and it's beauty inspired George and Rhoda to built their home on the lake's shoreline after raising three children on the British Columbia coast. The two were inseparable anglers and they fished together until George passed away at the age of 57. In her seventies now, Rhoda still fishes and recently shared a fishing derby win with a Kootenay Lake neighbour.

    Although British Columbia lakes have produced lots of big fish over the years, apparently it wasn't until fresh water shrimp were introduced and became a forage base that the Kootenay trout became world class in size.

    I heard about George's record fish in 1999 from George's sister Dorie Ridley and nephew Steve Ridley, both keen anglers and residents of Sauble Beach. I hesitated to write the story then because I couldn't find any recent documentation or if even if anyone was keeping track of Canadian sports fishing records. Until the early nineties Canadian Mist Whiskey kept track of our nation’s biggest fish but when they quit keeping their statistics it appears no one took over. Rhoda has a scroll from the 66th annual Field and Stream magazine recognizing their trophy as Canada's biggest and Canadian Mist whiskey also listed the Kootenay Lake rainbow trout as the Canadian record but as far as I can discover, documentation of this fish and national records for other species are no longer being kept. An Ontario-only sports fishing registry is now kept and maintained by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and the biggest rainbow trout ever recorded in this province weighed 29.12 pounds.

    Recently Canadian Tire sponsored a booklet called "Canadian Fishing" which featured tips from professional angler and T.V. host Bob Izumi. On page 22, George Hill's 35.12-pound rainbow trout is listed as the Canadian record but since no source is credited, Bob or his staff may have relied on the decade old Canadian Mist registry as well. For now, George’s fish is the one to beat and that may be hard to do. If anyone does surpass George's record, I hope the fish comes from Kootenay Lake and I hope Rhoda Hill reels it in.

    Grant Ferris
    Grey/Bruce Outdoors