Kootenai River Fishing Report 7-13-2020

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:

Libby Dam outflows decreased to 20 kcfs on July 11th, at 04:49 MDT.

– Libby Dam outflows will decrease from 20 kcfs to 18 kcfs on Wednesday, July 15th at 23:00 MDT.

– Libby Dam outflows will decrease from 18 kcfs to 16 kcfs on Thursday, July 16th at 23:00 MDT.

– Libby Dam outflows will decrease from 16 kcfs to 14 kcfs on Friday, July 17th over two hours beginning at 22:00 MDT.

– Libby Dam outflows will decrease from 14 kcfs to 12 kcfs on Saturday, July 18th over two hours beginning at 22:00 MDT.

– Libby Dam outflows will decrease from 12 kcfs to 10 kcfs on Sunday, July 19th over two hours beginning at 22:00 MDT.

In-Flow From Lake Koocanusa: Approximately 24,000 cfs

Kootenai River water temperature below Libby Dam: 52 degrees

Water Clarity:  Water clarity is terrific.  The river is not gin clear this time of year and we actually like it this way.

Hatches: midge, caddis, pmds

Patterns: zebra midge, midge pupa, parachute Adams, purple chubby, parachute pmd, elk hair caddis, caddis pupa, prince nymph, soft hackle pheasant tail, Pat’s rubber legged stonefly, SJ worms, 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

Discharge from Libby Dam will be decreasing through the week.  Big water is over and great fishing conditions will be here in a few days.  Wading is still minimal.  It’s all about drifting until the flows reach approximately 12,000cfs.

We had a late start here on the Kootenai this year due to high runoff and heavy rains in June.  The river was huge but is dropping fast.  Flows will arrive at 10,000 cfs on July 20 and will remain steady for the remainder of July and August.  The fishing might be a little tough this week while flows are dropping and fish are settling into new habitat.  For the most part they will be moving off banks and into the main channel.

Meanwhile, caddis, and pmds 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 or an elk hair caddis perfectly well.

You could surely run a dry/dropper rig all day if you wanted.  Depending on what stretch your fishing, you will see bugs.  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.  The last couple days have been very good.  Water temperatures are warming up and trout are feeding more aggressively.  Remember to get bugs down and keep them down.  Keep a keen eye on your indicator and if you notice even the slightest change in speed, lift.

Look for fish in slower currents, buckets, tailouts, and especially around cover and down rocky runs. 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.  Fish streamers slowly with a pulse now and again to make them look like struggling baitfish.

7 Day Weather Outlook:  Expect mostly sunny days and temperatures in the low 70s.  Toward the end of the week expect some cloud cover, cooler temps in the 60s and possible thunder storms the day.  Perfect fishing weather!

man holding a rainbow trout from Kootenai River
Bread and butta Kootenai rainbow for guest Gordy B.