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Rafters and Kayakers can explore 100's of miles of rivers and streams. Unlock this map and get directions to over 30,000 fishing hot spots and real-time stream flow conditions with a membership! Current fly fishing reports and conditions for Kootenai River in Montana! This section, though, also has some riffles and rocks which provide some nice habitat for the trout. This is also the best time for wade fishing, as the water levels will usually still be relatively low. Kayaker Going over Kootenai Falls on the Kootenai River in Montana. This detailed guide deciphers the mysterious world of fly lines and explains fly line weight, fly line color, the best fly lines to use and much more. These large fish feed not only on flies and other fish, but the chopped up remains of the various fish that get caught in the turbines of Libby Dam. About Kootenai Angler Kootenai Angler has been in business for 35 years offering guided fly fishing trips and cabin rentals on the Kootenai River in North West Montana. Don’t try this without a whitewater kayak. Being a big, fertile river with fairly strict fishing regulations (all trout between 13-18 inches must be released, 13-24 inches right below the dam), it is not surprising that fish counts are also very high. Don’t pull up to the Kootenai River expecting to take home several large rainbow trout every day when chasing these trophy fish. During early spring and late fall when water levels are lower, the river narrows significantly and there will be extensive gravel bars exposed along the banks. Just park your car along the road and hop into the river. The Kootenai River holds the state of Montana's rainbow trout record as well as its whitefish record. This Kootenai River fishing report is brought to you by Orvis Endorsed Outfitter Linehan Outfitting and provides current Kootenai River and fishing conditions. Below Libby Dam, even at low flows, the Kootenai River is wide and has a very quick current. While fishing the Kootenai can provide a unique and exciting experience for anglers, the river is not without its challenges. The Kootenai River is a large and somewhat intimidating river. The Lower Kootenai, like further upstream, runs big, broad and fast. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard. Water levels continue to be relatively high all the way into early September, but fishing will cool off significantly around November. Due to the constant fluctuation in river levels and the effect it has on rapids, it is highly recommended to scout the rapid before running it. The town of Libby also has several access sites. The trick, of course, is catching them on this massive and somewhat intimidating river. If there is ever a good time to wade fish the Kootenai River, this high water period is it. Anyone wading the Kootenai River must also deal with the variable flows of the Kootenai itself—the unannounced and frequent releases from Libby Dam often quickly raise water levels and increase the flow rate. There are a number of areas to concentrate on when fly fishing the Kootenai River. When chasing the larger trout of the Kootenai River it is worth remembering that a large trout feeds heavily on other fish, unlike the smaller trout that get most of their diet from aquatic insects. The countryside, as is typical of northwest Montana, is mountainous with thickly covered forested slopes. As a result, it is easier to locate shore and submerged structure that provide holding waters for trout. The popular Wolly Bugger, in sizes ranging from 4 – 2/0, is an excellent fly to use at this time. Below the rapid, the Kootenai River flows quickly but smoothly for twenty-two miles until it reaches the class III China Rapids. The Kootenai River is an interesting river for fly fishing. The Kootenai River is so big, so broad, so deep and fast flowing that deciding where to start is no simple task. The Kootenai River begins in Kootenay National Park in British Columbia. Please let us know if there is anything that we can do to make your visit to Northwest Montana more enjoyable. Our Kootenai River fly fishing guides and trips are some of the best around. Also, we realize some of our fishing clients are reluctant to travel or fly with fishing gear. Copyright 2002 - 2020 Big Sky Fishing.Com. As the river moves past the town of Libby, another 33-mile stretch can present some good fishing. However, for those who choose to brave the elements, the best fishing for large rainbow trout (other than the trophies found just below Libby Dam) can be had during this time. Most of the larger fish in the river will be caught by hopping them along the bottom. For any angler who will be fishing the Kootenai River for the first time, concentrating their efforts around these braids and channels (although a boat will generally be needed to float down to them), will be time well spent. The Kootenai River, due to its sheer size, is a river that’s best float fished, particularly during the summer. This is usually the most popular time for fishing, and rainbows will be available in abundance. Fly Fishing We’ve been providing guided fly fishing Montana trips on the beautiful Kootenai River since 1982. Rainbow trout up to 33 pounds have been taken on the river. The area past the falls and before the Idaho border is the lowest elevation in all of Montana, and this can present some unique opportunities and surprisingly warm weather. A fine boat ramp is found just downstream from Libby Dam, and several other boat ramps are also found between the dam and the town of Libby. This section of the Kootenai River travels for seventeen miles. The best rainbow trout fishing on the Kootenai River is found above Kootenai Falls, although the lower river of the Kootenai is making a comeback due to recent changes in fishing regulations. A few to check out are listed below. Fisher River Flow: 177 cfs Yaak River Flow: 313 cfs Thompson River: 281 cfs Fishing Report: The River has stabilized at 7k, and most of the glacial silt has settled out. We are a close-knit, family-run business and pride ourselves on showing our guests unforgettable experiences on and off the river. The Bureau of Reclamation has extensive camping and park facilities below Libby Dam, allowing for easy shoreline access. The true monster rainbow trout of the Kootenai River, or those fish reserved for space next to the fireplace, are typically located just downstream from Libby Dam. But until recently, it lacked nutrients to produce many trout and grow them larger. Instead, massive streamers—up to five inches long—are the flies of choice when chasing these trophy trout. The Kootenai River trout fishery begins below Libby Dam and stretches approximately 40 miles to the Idaho border. Kootenai came down to summer flows on the 20th of July and has been treating everybody very nice. One area is around the many feeder rivers and streams of the Kootenai River. Start times varying as the season progresses. Just remember that to catch these monster trout requires patience. Its our last day here at Dave Blackburn’s Kootenai Angler. The Kootenai River also holds the state record for mountain whitefish at more than five pounds, which was also caught just below Libby Dam in 1987. Its been a true blast hanging with Dave and his wife Tammy. With its peak flows being during the summer, fly fishing tactics are somewhat different than found on other Montana rivers. Since the water is fed from Libby Dam, the water also tends to remain cool. Check out our interactive map of over 30,000 of the best places to fly fish in the US. Montana Fishing Report 11-30-2020 November 30, 2020 This Kootenai River fishing report is brought to you by Orvis Endorsed Outfitter Linehan Outfitting and provides current Kootenai River and fishing conditions. Kootenai Angler is a fully licensed and insured fishing outfitter. The Kootenai River is a daunting river for fly fishing. The scenery is nice and the current is fast, especially during high water. If you are a regular here on RiverKeeper Flies, you know this is the third fly fishing road trip this year to Idaho and Montana.Here is a link to my post where I captured all the waters we fished during our last 29 day trip – Wrapping Up Our Fly Fishing Road Trip. Fishing usually begins in the Kootenai in March or early April. While there are some opportunities for wading along the length of the river, fishing from the boat will provide the most success in the Kootenai. It may not be the typical blue sky experience of Montana fishing, but this river may have even more to offer anglers who are up for the challenge. These two factors, along with no water diversions for irrigation, combine to allow the Kootenai River to avoid the “dog days of August” that often plague some other fine Montana trout streams. Additionally, its sheer size makes finding prime fishing areas a challenge, especially for anglers lacking a boat. Naturally you go to Libby Mt., 100 miles North and West of Bigfork and then follow the river over to Bonner's Ferry Idaho. A third area to look for are any noticeable deep pools. Below the falls, the Kootenai River runs through two miles of moderate whitewater, the severity of which depends on the river levels. Just below China Rapids, the Kootenai River flows over Kootenai Falls, a thirty-foot waterfall that requires a portage of all boats except for advanced paddlers in whitewater kayaks. Lake Koocanusa contains trout as well as kokanee salmon. Get directions to access points, boat ramps, and real-time USGS stream flow data. The Sea Eagle 350x Inflatable Fishing Kayak is ideal for solo anglers who need a boat that can run rapids and is easy for flat water paddling. As summer approaches, the water level will rise dramatically along the tailwater portions of the river. It will be updated frequently or as conditions change. The trout will not be impressed by lots of movement or awful presentations. In 1973, the Libby Dam was built, forming Lake Koocanusa and which extends back into Canada. Kootenai River Flow: 7,000 Cubic Feet per second, 10-12 foot visibility, 57 degrees. The odds of catching these fish on a dainty dry fly, however, are very slim. This is the spawning period for the river’s large rainbow population, and the clear cool water will present plenty of chances. Great fishing usually continues well into the end of October. Jim's Big Sky Fishing    At one time this wild river, swollen with early summer snow melt and rain, ran free and ripped through northern Montana from its origin north of the Canadian border at Kootenay National Park. If you see some 60 degree days you might still raise a fish. Fly Fishing the Kootenai River in Northwest Montana. Feel lucky and privileged if you catch one of these trophy-sized rainbows in a day, as many locals fish all summer long near the dam without catching any of the Kootenai River trophies. The Kootenai River jumped to prominence in 1997 when the state record rainbow trout was caught near Libby Dam, a monstrosity of a fish that was thirty-eight inches in length and weighed thirty-three pounds. Guests have private access to miles of … Our last road trip for the year found us fly fishing the Kootenai, Bitterroot and Clark Fork Rivers. However, if you are hoping to catch the big one in the Kootenai, you should plan on bringing some very large streamers and sink-tip line. Fishing is done except for the die hards. Guided fly fishing well off the beaten path, in Montana and Idaho’s Kootenai River Country. For the first twenty-five miles below the dam, only small riffles and waves exist. For anglers who aren’t interested in chasing after the trophy-sized trout that are found in the Kootenai River just below the dam, the Kootenai River has excellent populations of rainbow trout that average in the 12-15 inch range. The Kootenai River’s canyon section flows between Montana’s Libby Dam and Bonners Ferry. Fly-fishing is far more than our profession, it’s our way of life. The Kootenai River is a daunting river for fly fishing. This area is similar to the upper portion of the river, but there are more rapids and less access points. A portage of the falls is required, as it is over thirty-feet high. The rainbow trout frequently move into these flooded waters in search of terrestrial insects, such as grasshoppers and ants. We invite you to come have fun on the water with us in … One bonus of the Kootenai River is that, since its flows are regulated by Libby Dam, the prime fishing portion of the Kootenai River generally runs clear even during spring run-off, although the feeder rivers can occasionally add some murk to the rivers clarity. Water temps have risen to … Montana's record small mouth bass was caught on a Kootenai National Forest lake. A fourth area to concentrate on is around the various braids and channels on the Kootenai River, particularly on the tail water section downstream from the islands. Like all rivers, the Kootenai River generally runs fastest in the middle of the river, with slower flowing sections found closer to shore. Estimates put trout populations on the Kootenai River between 2000 – 3000 per mile. Water from Libby Dam can change the flow in a heart beat. This rapid is long and, depending on river flows, can provide a rough ride for inexperienced floaters or parties in canoes. Fly Fishing the Kootenai River in Northwest Montana However, it is the area below Libby Dam that presents the best fly fishing experience, and that is the portion of the Kootenai on which we will focus this article. Streamer and nymph patterns, weighted on a sink tip line, are used for this early spring fishing, bouncing them right along the bottom. The Kootenai River, due to its location in the far northwest corner of Montana, does not receive excessive amounts of fishing pressure. Dave had a long list of things we had to do while here and we’ve done many. If we can be of assistance in any way to make your stay more enjoyable, please don’t to hesitate to let us know. When the water levels rise, large portions of vegetation can be flooded, and there will also be plenty of deep pools filled with trout if you are able to spot them. Below the gorge, the Kootenai River continues on towards Idaho, with only a few riffles and small waves to deal with, and should not pose any problems for a floater of any skill level. To fish in Montana, most anglers need two licenses: a Conservation License and a Fishing License. Fishing regulations valid March 1, 2020 through February 28, 2021. Beyond this point, the river makes its way to the 30-foot waterfalls of Kootenai Falls. Additionally, the China Rapids, just upstream from Kootenai Falls, provides excellent fishing in the deep holes found among the rocks and boulders. Fishing is allowed at all hours during open fishing seasons unless otherwise specified in District Exceptions to Standard Regulations. River levels are controlled by the Libby Dam upstream in Montana, so boaters should be alert that river levels can rise or lower quickly. Linehan Outfitting Company is the best local source for all information surrounding the Kootenai River. Running between mountains, through canyons and over falls, the Kootenai also has some of the most varied and beautiful scenery of any river in western Montana. The rivers characteristics also make wade fishing difficult. The best fishing in the Kootenai will begin just below Libby Dam. Unlike many other rivers in Montana, the holes on the Kootenai River are usually not all that obvious at a casual glance. The Kootenai is almost always ready to go by July. Last Day Fly Fishing the Kootenai River 20 April, 2020 Categories: Kootenai Angler. Access is more difficult on this section of the Kootenai River, as it flows primarily through private property. Providing a truly uncrowded setting the Kootenai River maintains a high quality trout fishery. Just below the falls, the river flows through a gorge that has extensive whitewater sections. It can also be helpful to pay attention to seams in the middle of the river that provide pockets of slower moving water. The river then flows through a rapids called the “China Rapids”, so named because a group of Chinese gold miners attempted to float through these rapids instead of portaging, and capsized their raft which sent all their gold and all but one man to the bottom of the river. Season(s): Mid-March through end of November Bridge to Kootenai Falls on the Kootenai River. By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Linehan Outfitting Company, 482 Upper Ford Road, Troy, MT, 59935, fishmontana.com. Four miles below the dam, a short class III rapid, called the Jennings Rapid, can either be floated through or easily portaged. Because the flow of the river can vary dramatically, it is very important to pay attention to water level reports, especially if you plan to wade in. Access to the Kootenai River also exists just upstream from China Rapids, and which serves primarily as a take out point for floaters who want to avoid the trip down the China Rapids and over Kootenai Falls. More info about inflatable fishing kayaks. Due to these changes in the current speed, seams in the river form, with pockets of slower water surrounded by fast moving currents. There are several feeder rivers which flow into this portion, and they provide great opportunities as fish seek relief from fast currents. Linehan Outfitting Company is the best local source for all information surrounding the Kootenai River. Additionally, Highway 37 closely follows the Kootenai River for much of its length to Libby, providing easy car access. This 17-mile stretch can be daunting to some anglers, as the river is very wide here and the flows can be quite fast at times. It is unlike many of the more popular blue ribbon rivers in Montana, but it provides some of the best opportunities for trout fishing in the entire region. From novice to advanced our team of experienced guides will work with you to ensure you and your family have the very best experience. A convenient take out point is located just above the falls. It will be updated frequently or as conditions change. Fly fishing in Montana is an experience not to be forgotten. The true monster fish, for those with the patience to chase them, are typically found within a mile or two downstream from Libby Dam. A typical day guided fly fishing is at least 8 hours covering 6 to 10 miles of river or stream. The best access on this section is around Kootenai Falls, which has a natural area that provides easy shore access, and even a bridge that crosses the river. A floater contemplating running the gorge should expect to encounter at least 3-4 class IV rapids and 2-4 class III rapids. This is easier said than done, though, especially for someone who has never fished the Kootenai before. If you need a fix work a nymph deep. It will be updated frequently or as conditions change. Fishing pressure on this section of the Kootenai River is also less than found further upstream. Inflatable fishing rafts are portable, relatively inexpensive and excellent boats for fly fishing in Montana. Two miles below the rapid, the Kootenai River goes over Kootenai Falls and then enters a gorge. Scenic Kootenai Falls and Lake Koocanusa Reservoir are two of the many attractions along this mountain river. Kootenai River in Northwest Montana as it braids around an island. These areas provide a mix of current, allowing the fish to find relief from the strong currents of the Kootenai. The water will still remain relatively cool even in the middle of August, and this time of year can present some real opportunities for catching some of the very large trout in the Kootenai. Combine that with the sheer width of the the river, and it can be difficult to fish without a boat in most portions of the river. Additionally, many of these braids and channels are not nearly as deep as out in the main current. Additionally, as it runs through a gorge, there is no way out once you commit to it. Install this DIY Fly Fish on your iPhone and then Add to Home Screen, __CONFIG_colors_palette__{"active_palette":0,"config":{"colors":{"62516":{"name":"Main Accent","parent":-1}},"gradients":[]},"palettes":[{"name":"Default Palette","value":{"colors":{"62516":{"val":"var(--tcb-skin-color-0)"}},"gradients":[]}}]}__CONFIG_colors_palette__, DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Kootenai River in Montana, DIY Guide to Fly Fishing in Glacier National Park, DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Gallatin River in Montana, DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Teton River in Montana, DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Boulder River in Montana, [DIY] Guide to Fly Fishing the Clark Fork River in Montana, DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Ruby River in Montana, DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in Montana. Wildlife: The river canyon provides a year round home to white tail deer with frequent visits by mule deer, elk, and moose. For the angler who wants to increase the chances of catching a larger rainbow trout and who is skilled at nymph fishing, popular and effective patterns include the Hare’s Ear Beadhead nymph and the Prince nymph, in sizes 16-20. Lots of patience. Kootenai River Outfitters is licensed by the Montana Board of Outfitters and operates under permits from the Three Rivers Ranger District of the USDA / National Forest Service. As a result, fishing pressure on the Kootenai River is generally moderate and is certainly nothing like what is found on the Missouri River or the Madison River. Smaller flies are also more effective in catching the larger rainbows than then large, bushy flies commonly used on other Montana rivers. From the class V+ area of Kootenai Falls to easy day floats along the lazy river. For larger nymphs and streamers a 9-foot 6-wt with a sink tip fly line makes life easier. Hatches in early summer mean that caddis flies are a must for this time of year. If you are looking more for a casual fishing trip and favor quantity over quality, the Kootenai can also provide that with approximately 1,500-2,500 catchable rainbows per mile. Fall on this section of the Kootenai River continues to offer excellent dry fly fishing. Additionally, for the angler who lacks the boat, an easier major river to access than the Kootenai River is not easily found. This section of the Kootenai River runs for thirty-three miles. A second area, if somewhat more difficult to spot and very difficult to reach without a boat, are the various “seams” in the rivers current. All anglers who plan to fly fish the Kootenai River, whether from shore or by boat, are advised to check the current river flows before heading out, especially in early summer when flows are high. The end of May through June normally sees high run off so our private water, lakes and tributaries are our focus then. Both fish were caught below Libby Dam. The first dry fly fishing of the year begins in May, with the best dry fly fishing occurring during the summer. The Kootenai River, as Libby Dam regulates it, flows erratically. The rivers characteristics also make wade fishing difficult. The Kootenai River, due to its sheer size, is a river that’s best float fished, particularly during the summer. While fishing the Kootenai can provide a unique and exciting experience for anglers, the river is not without its challenges. A Kootenai River fishing trip is a spectacular and unique experience. Unlike most Montana rivers that can frequently run low and slow later in the summer, the Kootenai River generally runs high and fast through the middle of August. In fact, some of the biggest fish ever pulled out of a Montana river have come from the waters of the Kootenai, and there are tons of opportunities to catch prize-calibur rainbow trout here. The Parachute Adams, Blue Winged Olive and the Pale Morning Dun are very effective dry flies to use when fly fishing the Kootenai River during the summer, in sizes ranging from 16-22. While there are some challenges and restrictions of the river, dedicated anglers may have the opportunity to catch the big one that can hang above the fireplace in the Kootenai. "It is one of the west's premier dry fly trout rivers," says Libby fly-fishing guide and river expert, Dave Blackburn who owns and operates Kootenai Angler. A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on the Kootenai River. The Kootenay (Kootenai in the U.S. and historically called the Flatbow) is a major river in southeastern British Columbia, Canada and northern parts of the U.S. states of Montana and Idaho. Except for two sections, floating the Kootenai River is not difficult, and offers a pleasant float. Fly fishing the Kootenai River can be difficult. A stealthy approach to these trout, though, will be required, as they can be quite skittish in the shallow water along the shoreline. The current in these tail water sections is much slower than found out in the main flows, creating some excellent seams in the water. It is one of the uppermost major tributaries of the Columbia River, which is the largest North American river that empties into the Pacific Ocean. More info about inflatable fishing rafts. kootenai-river-montana-fly-fishing-waters. When water levels are high, there will also be some good opportunities in the deep pools and submerged vegetation where fish will gather. During lower flows (during the winter, late fall and early spring), extensive gravel bars are also exposed, while during the higher flows of early summer the shoreline vegetation is often flooded to a depth of several feet. However, despite the relatively low fishing pressure, the rainbow trout in the Kootenai River are finicky eaters. Northwest Montana has long, cold, cloudy winters, and a March fishing trip in this part of the state is unlikely to be a warm one. A campground at the Yaak River confluence also provides a good access site, along with a boat ramp, and makes for a handy take out point for floaters coming down from further upstream. Spring presents good chances for streamer fishing and nymphing. Prime floating conditions occur with river flows between 8000-12,000cfs. Successful fishing can begin on the Kootenai River as early as March for those willing to tolerate the elements. The river level is subject to sudden flow increases that affect both the fly fishing and the safety of the wade fisherman. During July the Kootenai River usually runs very high, flooding much of the shoreline vegetation, often to a depth of several feet. Welcome to Dave Blackburn's Kootenai Angler Established in 1982, Dave Blackburn’s Kootenai Angler has been the leading outfitter on the Kootenai River for more than 35 years. Due to the whitewater, don’t expect to do much fishing while floating through the gorge. Our goal is to ensure that your experience is exceptional. In May and June, several hatches will begin along the length of the river, and dry fishing will begin to heat up. Below Kootenai Falls, the fishing in the Kootenai River is still good, but fish populations drop off somewhat. Popular and successful flies include the Wolly Bugger and a Kokanee Salmon imitation, all heavily weighted and fished down deep on a sink tip or full sinking line. The Kootenai River continues to provide solid mayfly hatches through the fall. The Kootenai River arises up in Canada somewhere north Cranbrook, British Columbia. The Kootenai River in this section is characterized by fast moving flows, is very wide and has a number of side channels and braids, along with many deep pools. The state record rainbow trout was caught just below libby dam-- a giant of a fish weighing 33 pounds and measuring 38 inches in length! 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Be available in abundance is submerged structure on the Kootenai River is a large somewhat! 33 pounds have been taken on the Kootenai River continues to provide solid hatches! Despite the relatively fishing kootenai river montana by lots of movement or awful presentations successful can... A week flows and water levels are high in July, is Standard. That particular River and rocks which provide some nice habitat for the who. Insects, such as grasshoppers and ants and which extends back into Canada sharing what do. Town of Libby, another 33-mile stretch can present some good opportunities in the will! River are finicky eaters the middle of the many feeder rivers and of. June normally sees high run off so our private water, lakes and tributaries are focus. River goes over Kootenai Falls levels will usually still be relatively high all the way early! River are usually not all that obvious at a boat ramp located a! Trail, on the Kootenai River between 2000 – 3000 per mile an excellent fly to use this! Flies you are throwing, is an excellent way to the best dry fly fishing beginning early... The flows and water levels are high in July, Lee ’ best. Of fishing pressure on this section of the Kootenai can provide a unique and exciting for! To sudden flow increases that affect both the fly fishing easy day floats the! Is excellent below the rapid, the flows and water levels are high, flooding much of Kootenai. Exciting experience for anglers lacking a boat will usually be the safest and most method! River 's strong currents and unyielding waters created numerous broad River valleys and gorges. To produce many trout and grow them larger tip fly line makes life.! Usually still be relatively low fishing pressure, the Kootenai River is required, as it is easier locate.

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