Kootenai River Fishing Report 6-17-2020

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:  Flows are currently 26,000 cfs and may increase due to runoff.

In-Flow From Lake Koocanusa: Approximately 42,000 cfs

Kootenai River water temperature below Libby Dam: 48 degrees

Water Clarity: You may see some color downstream from tributaries but for the most part water clarity is perfectly good.

Hatches: midge, baetis, March browns, caddis, stoneflies

Patterns: zebra midge, midge pupa, parachute Adams, bullet head skwala, rasta skwala, purple chubby, parachute March brown, black elk hair caddis, caddis pupa, 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

Runoff has officially started.  From now through the end of June the Kootenai will likely offer fair conditions at best.  It’s big and brawling right now so be careful.  Tributaries will sporadically be kicking in color.  At the moment water clarity is good and there is fishing to be had.

Meanwhile, caddis, and a few stoneflies will continue to pop later in the afternoons each day depending on sections.  Dry fly fishing is spotty.  If you see bugs, you’ll likely see rising fish.  And they’re hungry this time of year.  Make a good presentation and they’ll eat a size 14 parachute Adams every time.

You could surely run a dry/dropper rig all day if you wanted.  Depending on what stretch your fishing, you will see bugs.  Nemoura stoneflies have been active as well as early caddis.  A size 12 rasta skwala, purple chubby, or bugmeister with a size 16 bh pheasant tail will roll nicely if that’s your preference.

Nymphing the Kootenai River is still the most consistent 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 especially as runoff increases and the river starts to carr a bit of color. 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 Weather Outlook:  Low pressure front will be moving into the area early this week bringing cooler temperatures and showers and rain.  You can also expect some breezy weather out there as well under these conditions.

photo of Lake Koocanusa in Libby, Montana
Lake Koocanusa above Libby Dam is filling fast. Good snowpack this year means good water conditions for the Kootenai River.