A Kootenai River fishing trip is our bread and butter. The Kootenai is the home water that we know the best and maybe even feel a little bit precious about. It is also an untapped resource. The Kootenai is Montana’s largest tailwater fishery, with over half its drainage located in British Columbia. It is a major tributary of the Columbia River, and due to its remote and pristine waters it can fish like an absolute dream.
Mid-March through end of November
Rainbow, Westlope Cutthroat Trout, Bull Trout, Mountain Whitefish
12-14 inch rainbows with opportunities for bigger fish
9’, 4 or 5 wt. rods. Medium to fast action for dry-fly fishing. 9’ 6 or 7 wt. medium to fast action rods for nymphing and streamer fishing.
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A Kootenai River fishing trip is what we are known for, and an angling experience you will not soon forget. The Kootenai River is Montana’s largest tailwater fishery, encompassing a tremendous expanse of water. At Linehan Outfitting we focus on the Kootenai trout fishery immediately below the Libby Dam, which is located 18 miles north of Libby, Montana. Above the Libby Dam, Lake Koocanusa Reservoir extends over 100 miles into the Canadian Rockies. Linehan Outfitting guides have isolated and mastered approximately 40 miles of guidable water on the Kootenai from the Libby Dam downstream to the Idaho border. For those hungry anglers for whom the Montana Koot is simply not enough, we also offer trips on the Idaho stretch of the Kootenai as licensed Idaho guides through Colby Blair/The Last Resort Outfitters.
The Kootenai River’s wild and native strain of inland Redband Rainbows are representative of the strong, hard-fighting, and acrobatic trout that have lived in the watershed for eons. It’s not uncommon for a Kootenai River rainbow to rip fifty feet of line off your reel and leave it smoking, turning three or four cartwheels along the way and leaving your perceptions unraveled and adrenaline-soaked.
Bull Trout are a prized endemic fish species on the Kootenai. While state regulations don’t allow targeting of bull trout, we catch them inadvertently on large streamers run down and deep. With jaws and teeth well-suited to their predatory nature, Kootenai Bull Trout are an awesome quarry, and representative specimens often range into the 10 lb. class. When passing over known Bull Trout runs, our guides are instructed to remind guests to keep hands and feet in the boat… guides and guests alike have learned the hard way just how voracious Kootenai Bulls can be.
Kootenai River fishing tactics vary across the seasons and the hatches, but at Linehan Outfitting we certainly consider Montana’s Kootenai essentially a dry-fly fishery. The river’s long runs and flat pools are perfectly suited for long, lazy drifts. With steady flows and temperatures from Libby Dam throughout the season, hatches of PMD mayflies and caddis are predictable, and we can always count on Kootenai trout to look up. As the summer deepens, terrestrials like hoppers and ants add a little roughage to daily trout diets. Nymphing and pulling streamers can also prove effective on the Kootenai, and we’re ready to do whatever it takes to get guests into fish. If you don’t know the technique that’s called for, we’re happy to show you how; together, we are certain to find a few knuckle-busting rainbows and enjoy some toothy grins in the process.
If you’ve already fished around the great state of Montana, you owe yourself an experience on the Kootenai. You are guaranteed a wonderful and entirely unique experience.