Kootenai River Fly Fishing

Mid-March through end of November

Rainbow, Westlope Cutthroat Trout, Bull Trout, Mountain Whitefish

Average Size On Average Day:
12-14 inch rainbows with opportunities for bigger fish

Tackle Suggestions:
9ft, four or five weight rods/medium to fast action for dry fly fishing 9ft, six or seven weight/medium to fast action for nymphing and streamer fishing

A Kootenai River fishing trip is a spectacular and unique experience. The Kootenai River is Montana’s largest tailwater fishery with over half its drainage located in British Columbia and is also a major tributary of the Columbia River. Immediately below the Libby Dam, located 18 miles north of Libby, Montana, the Kootenai River trout fishery begins. We have approximately 40 miles of guidable water on the Kootenai River from the Libby Dam to the Idaho border. Above the Libby Dam, Lake Koocanusa Reservoir extends over 100 miles into the Canadian Rockies.

The Kootenai River’s wild and native strain of redband rainbows are strong, hard fighting and extraordinarily acrobatic. It’s not uncommon for a Kootenai River, Montana rainbow to rip off fifty feet of line and jump three or four times before your skills catch up with your adrenaline.

Bull trout are also native to the Kootenai and we catch them with streamers run down and deep. With jaws and teeth suited for their perfect predatory nature, these beasts are awesome and often range in the 10 lb. class. When passing over bull trout runs, our guides are instructed to remind guests to keep hands and feet in the boat, please.

Kootenai river fishing can be varied throughout the year but we certainly consider Montana’s Kootenai River essentially a classic dry fly fishery. Its long runs and flat pools are perfectly suited for endless drifts. With steady flows and temperatures from Libby Dam throughout the season, hatches of pmd mayflies and caddis are predictable and always have fish looking up. As the summer deepens, terrestrials like hoppers and ants add new flavors to daily trout diets. Nymphing and pulling streamers is also very effective and here at LOC we’re pretty much ready to do whatever it takes if the fish aren’t looking up for dry flies. If you don’t know the technique, we’re happy to show you how. Together, we’ll find a few knuckle-busting rainbows and share some toothy grins in the process.

If you’ve already fished around the state, Kootenai River fishing will offer a totally different experience.

Read more about the Kootenai River here.

Kootenai River