This Kootenai River Montana fishing report is brought to you buy Linehan Outfitting Company and provides current river and fishing conditions. It will be updated accordingly or as conditions change. Feel free to call anytime if you need guides or lodging or any help with the fly fishing world.
In-flow from Lake Koocanusa: approximately cfs 3,400cfs
Discharge from Libby Dam: 4000cfs
In-Flow to Lake Koocanusa: 3,800cfs
Water Temperature Below Libby Dam: 36 degrees
Water Clarity: Perfect
Best Time Of Day: This time of year it really doesn’t matter.
Patterns: Rubber legged stoneflies, zebra midge, bunny streamers, SJ worms, bh prince, bh copper john, circus peanut, big streamers in red and black and white
THE UPPER KOOTENAI RIVER FROM LIBBY DAM DOWNSTREAM TO THE MOUTH OF THE FISHER RIVER WILL BE CLOSED UNTIL JUNE 1.
It appears we’re finally headed for a thaw and that indeed spring is trying to muscle into the picture. Daytime temps have been above freezing for 4 days and rain has turned to snow. It’s still dark up here in Kootenai River country and for the foreseeable future it looks like precipitation will continue. Finally it’s rain on the valley floors and snow line has risen of late to about 4500 feet. Snowpack is still obviously building above 4500 feet and that means there should be plenty of water for the summer and fall which will be terrific for fishing conditions.
Recent rain has tributaries rising a bit and throwing some color into the main stem of the Kootenai River. It’s still very fish-able and a little color this time of year is actually a good thing. Water clarity is still perfectly good but that could change on a daily basis depending on weather.
The Kootenai River is still steady and holding at minimum flows. And with lower and more fishable flows, nymphing and streamer action is the way to go. Water temps are only 36 degrees here on the Kootenai river at the moment so don’t expect much in the way of bug activity or dry fly action. Go deep, go big, or go home.
Big fish always need to eat from time to time. And they’re much more likely to eat a big meal than a tiny one. Get your nymphs down and dredge the bottom and generally speaking give them at least #12 or bigger. Stick with attractors and rubber legs and flies that look buggy. Look for fish in 10 feet of water, in structure, and off current areas.
Typically this time of year we mostly throw big junk in the form of bunny patterns, circus peanuts, and deceivers and usually employ at least sink tips. If you don’t have a sink tip at least be sure to stick a few split shot right above the fly so that it gets down. Fish it slowly, and pulse it from time to time so that it looks like a crippled bait fish struggling in the water column. Work deep pools and water depth of at least 5-10 feet or more if you can. Be patient. This time of year it’s not about quantity.
The Kootenai River is actually very wade-able this time of year and access is good. Downstream from Libby along hwy 2 in the China Rapids section can offer good nymphing this time of year. If you’re floating, keep in mind ramps may still have snow. Be sure to scout ramps before you launch. If they’re snow covered, bring a long tow rope and don’t back your truck down any farther than you have to.
Expect another week of partly cloudy to mostly cloudy conditions with a mix of snow and rain depending on daytime temperatures which will be largely in the mid 30s, low 40s. While some of us are desperately in need of some sunshine and a break from precipitation and darkness, keep in mind these are terrific fishing conditions. It’s not too cold and skies are gray and gloomy.