Kootenai River Fishing Report 6-23-2020

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:

– There will be daily reductions in outflow, down to 20 kcfs, for a few hours each day this week.

– Outflows from Libby Dam are expected to average 25 kcfs through the end of June, then ramp down to 10 kcfs in early-mid July.

Libby Dam is conducting a set of maintenance activities this week that require reducing outflows to 20 kcfs each day. Once work is completed each day outflows will return to approximately 25 kcfs in the afternoon and overnight. The intended length of the reduced flows each day is only a few hours, although on Monday the period of reduced flows extended longer, into the afternoon. In subsequent days this week we expect that we will be able to shorten the duration of this reduced-flow period to a few hours. People on the river downstream, especially closer to the Dam, will notice fluctuations in the river level over a several hour period each day this week.

In-Flow From Lake Koocanusa: Approximately 37,700 cfs

Kootenai River water temperature below Libby Dam: 49 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.  Caddis are popping here and there in faster water and around riffles near islands.  A size 12 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. This is actually a great time of year to pick up a big fish.  Cover water, swing small size streamers and fish them slowly with a pulse now and again to make them look like struggling baitfish.  Don’t get concrete feet. Make a couple casts and take a few steps and fish an entire run.

7 Day Weather Outlook:  Expect mostly sunny days with chance of thunder storms.  Temperatures will be in the 80s and conditions will be gusty during periods of t-storms.  Be prepared and be sure to bring rain gear.

raft floating on a river
Rivers are dropping and the season is good to go!