This Kootenai River Montana fishing report is being brought to you by Orvis Endorsed Linehan Outfitting. This report will be updated weekly to provide current conditions, weather, hatches, patterns, and flows to our local waters and across the state.
Flows from Libby Dam: Current discharge from Libby Dam is 9,000cfs. Flows are schedule to increase to full power house capacity (25,000cfs) on Wednesday for runoff and sturgeon augmentation. Flows will remain at 25,000 cfs until the end of May. Call Libby Dam 406-293-3421 for daily discharge schedule.
In-flows to Lake Koocanusa: 14,000cfs
water temperature at Libby Dam: 40 degrees
hatches: midge, blue winged olives, March browns, early caddis, little stoneflies
patterns: zebra midge, parachute Adams, purple haze, bugmeister, olive sparkle dun, purple chubby, bh prince, soft SJ worm, bh pheasant tail, bh rubber legged stonefly, big streamers in white, pink and olive, circus peanut, black conehead buggers
The Kootenai River is on the rise as I write and will be big with spring runoff and sturgeon augmentation flows until the end of May. What does this mean? It means that conditions will be fair through most of May. When the Kootenai River is running at full power house capacity, it's not that you can't fish, it's just really big. It may run clear but for sure it's float fishing exclusively.
When the Kootenai River is this big, look for fish in off current areas, soft pockets below islands, big cushions, and walking speed current with depths of 3-6 feet. Keep in mind trout will seek refuge out of big current and will be spread out and not necessarily concentrated.
For weather, expect a mix of spring weather throughout the week with partly sunny skies and chance of showers and rain. Unsettled weather is name of the game this week. Water temperatures are still chilly but provided warmer weather continues, hatches of early caddis, March brown and blue winged-olives will continue. That means in spite of cold water temperatures, trout will be active.
Dry fly action is pretty good is you're on the water and get some insect activity during the late afternoon. Look for early caddis here and there and blue winged olives and March brown mayflies. If you see a rising fish, you're in business. Don't expect fish to be push overs. They will not be too fussy but you will need to feed them cleanly. Make a good cast, target trout noses, and get a good drift.
For now, nymphing is still the best bet. You don't need a bunch of junk and with low flows you really don't need that much weight either. Set your indicator about 6 feet from the first fly and start with a single BB splitshot. Concentrate on walking speed current and 3-6 feet of water. Boulder gardens and softer currents will hold fish. Trout are less likely to be in faster water or riffles this time of year.
Streamer action has been picking up. As I always remind you, don't expect big numbers. You will not hook up as often compared to nymphing, but you may hook up with a significantly bigger fish. Keep the fly down and fish it slowly. Make sure it stays near or at the bottom for as long as possible. You can even dead drift a streamer this time of year with success as well. 15 foot depth charge sinking tips are best. Full sinking lines are not really that necessary during periods of low flows. White deceivers, circus peanuts, and purple will move fish.
All access points and boat ramps are clear. Don't forget from Libby Dam downstream to the mouth of the Fisher River is closed this time of year for spawning. Wading conditions are great under low flows especially below between the Kootenai Falls and Bighorn Terrace boat ramp. Nymphing in this stretch and through China Rapids section has been very productive lately.
In other news, the Boston Red Sox are off to a great start and currently have the best record in MLB! he pitching staff has started to come together and the names of Rodriquez, Eovaldi, Perez, and Barnes are starting to become known across MLB. Bats have been making contact and putting runners on base as offensive led by Kike Hernandez, Bogarts, Gonzalez, Martinez, Dalbec, Verdugo,Devers and Verdugo has really stepped up run production. Go Sox!