This Kootenai River fishing report is brought to you by Linehan Outfitting Company and provides current Kootenai River and fishing conditions. It will be updated frequently or as conditions change. We have guides available and we’re the local source for all things surrounding the Kootenai River. Give a call anytime if you have any questions about the Kootenai River or anything about Montana fly fishing or fly fishing in general.
Discharge from Libby Dam: the Present discharge from Libby Dam is 4000cfs
In-flow from Lake Koocanusa: 4000 cfs
Kootenai River water temperature below Libby Dam: 47 degrees
Water Clarity: gin clear
Best Time of day: Conditions are good throughout the entire day
Hatches: baetis, midge
Patterns: parachute Adams, purple parachute Adams, midge cluster, green meanie midge, purple chubby, red chubby, tan parachute hopper, royal Wulff, zebra midge, green goblin, olive emerger, pt soft hackle, bead head pt, bh copper john, red bh copper john, big bunny streamers and deceivers in red, pink and olive.
Winter fishing conditions have officially arrived. Yeah, yeah…I guess it’s still technically fall and Thanksgiving is next week and festivals are still on the schedule. But here in Kootenai River country it’s much more like winter already. There’s snow on the ground and already a fair bit above 4000 feet.
Water conditions are still terrific and flows from Libby Dam are still steady at 4000cfs. That means the entire river is penetrable with streamers and nymphing rigs. Fish are still feeding and water temps are hanging in there and surprisingly warm for this time of year. It’s generally not a numbers game but there is fun to be had if you’re game.
With Kootenai River flows at 4000 wade access is terrific up and down the entire river. Drift boat fishing is often a better bet. Drop the hook in appropriate places like deep runs and pools and work the water.
Nymphing in specific water like around cover, through deep runs, and tailouts is a good bet. Try a big, dark attractor with rubber legs like a Pat’s stonefly and drop a small prince or lightening bug about 18 inches below. Under these Kootenai river flows two BB split shot should be just about right with an indicator 7-8 feet above the big bug. Be sure to get the bugs down. Concentrate efforts in deeper runs with good current since fish are not really holding in riffles this time of year. There are no hatches to speak of and this time of year fish become more opportunistic. If it bumps them in the nose they’re likely to eat. Don’t expect them to move very far.
This time of year we really like to throw streamers. Get out the 7 weights and the 150 grain sink tips and start slinging. Again, it’s likely not going to be a numbers of game but more about a big rainbow or two if you very lucky. Don’t be over zealous. Fish are getting a bit lethargic as water temps start to drop. Fish streamers with slower action and even just let them swing. Get out the two handed rods as well. This is a great time of year to stand in a run and learn to spey cast. Look for fish in deep runs and around cover and especially right down the main channel in the deepest part of the river. Short strikes are common. If you get a grab don’t strip. Instead, let the fly sink and swing and pulse the tip of the rod a few times giving the impression of a wounded baitfish. Sometimes fish will respond and then really eat the fly in earnest.
Expect dark, cloudy skies for the most part this time of year here on the Kootenai River. Snow and rain/snow mix are predicted for the foreseeable future. It’s chilly out there so dress appropriately. Daytime temps are expected to be in the 30s. Conditions are actually darn good for this time of year.