Kootenai River Fishing Report by Linehan Outfitting Co. 3-16-2020
By angelamontana

Posted: March 20, 2020

This Kootenai River fishing report is brought to you by Orvis Endorsed Outfitter Linehan Outfitting and provides current Kootenai River and fishing conditions. It will be updated frequently or as conditions change. Linehan Outfitting Company is the best local source for all information 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: 4000cfs

In-Flow From Lake Koocanusa: Approximately 1600 cfs

Kootenai River water temperature below Libby Dam: 39 degrees

Water Clarity: Clear and in good shape

Hatches: midge, baetis

Patterns: zebra midge, midge pupa, bh prince nymph, soft hackle pheasant tail, Pat’s rubber legged stonefly, SJ worms, pt soft hackle, Orvis bead head pt, Orvis bh copper john, red bh copper john, big bunny streamers and deceivers in red, pink and white, and white circus peanut


Kootenai River flows will remain stable at 4000cfs for the foreseeable future. Conditions will be good and this is definitely the start of spring fishing.

We are headed back to nice spring weather after a few days of wicked cold weather and snow.

Still don’t expect much in the way of dry fly fishing until water temperatures rise into the middle 40s. Midge and March browns will eventually show up but not for another couple weeks. It’s easy to get a jump on the season especially since it’s really feeling a bit like spring at the moment. But it’s still a bit early.

Nymphing the Kootenai River is really the best technique this time of year.  Trout will still be lethargic and not necessarily feeding aggressively. Remember to get bugs down and keep them down. Don’t be in a hurry either and don’t expect savage strikes. Takes will be subtle. Keep a keen eye on your indicator and if you notice even the slightest change in speed, lift. And don’t be too aggressive with you strike either. Remember, trout are feeding slowly so they bite will be soft.

Look for fish in slower currents, pools, tailouts, and especially around cover. The China Rapids stretch between Libby and the Kootenai River Falls can offer some great opportunities this time of year. Slip your bugs above and especially below boulders in the cushions as fish will be concentrated in soft pockets. Also, water temps will likely be a few degrees warmer as you get downstream from the Libby Dam.

Be brave and confident.  Get out the bigger rods and throw streamers. This is actually a great time of year to pick up a big fish. Don’t expect numbers but cover water, swing small size streamers and generally fish them slowly with a pulse now and again to make them look like struggling baitfish. Cover water as well. Don’t get concrete feet. Make a couple casts and take a few steps and fish an entire run.

7 Day Outlook: Expect pretty decent weather through the early part of the week with partly sunny conditions and daytime temperatures in the 40s. Beginning mid-week it looks like a low pressure will move into the area bringing a wintry mix of rain and snow at higher elevations. None of this will impact river conditions to any great degree so it look like a great week to get on the water so long as you dress appropriately.


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