Kootenai River Montana Fishing Report 3/21/2019

This Kootenai River fishing report is brought to you by Orvis Endorsed Outfitter Linehan Outfitting Company 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:  For now flows are 4000cfs but that could change a bit any day depending on how quickly runoff starts.

In-Flow From Lake Koocanusa: Approximately 2,800cfs

Kootenai River water temperature below Libby Dam: 38 degrees

Water Clarity: The Kootenai River is gin clear this time of year.

Best time of day: This time of year afternoons are best.

Hatches: midge, baetis, March browns

Patterns: parachute Adams, Orvis purple parachute Adams, zebra midge, green goblin, olive emerger, Pat’s rubber legged stonefly, 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

The vernal equinox arrived and so did the spring weather!  The last several days here in Kootenai country have been outstanding with daytime temps in the high 40s and sunshine.  Yup.  Sunshine.  Never thought we’d see it again after one of the coldest winters to date.  It looks like we’re going to finish the winter with about 90% snowpack.  We could get more but on this, the first day of spring, the weather is terrific.  90% snowpack bodes well for summer conditions.

It’s amazing what a few warmer days does to change things.  Dry fly fishing is still minimal but hatches of March browns are sputtering along during the afternoons and if you look in the right places you could find some rising fish.  Midge hatches are also in play up near the Dam.  Look for rising fish in the afternoons especially in slick pools, flatwater, and off current areas. Don’t expect to see rising fish all over the place but it’s beginning to happen.

Indicator nymphing is most productive at the moment. Stretches that offer boulder gardens, varied currents, and other cover are holding fish. Additionally, look for trout in runs that are 4-6 feet deep with walking speed current. It’s a good idea to use yarn indicators this time of year as well since strikes can be soft and are often more difficult to detect.

If you’re up for it, streamers can bring some really big fish to the net. Be sure to use a heavy sink tip line and make sure you get the fly down. Don’t expect big numbers. Throwing a streamer this time of year is definitely more about quality and not about quantity. Fish are lethargic when water temperatures are cold. They will not move too far or too aggressively to feed.

Above Libby there are some stretches that offer good spring fishing opportunities. There is some great nymphing water between Libby and the Kootenai Falls that offers pocket water on steriods with boulders as big as the bed of a pick-up truck. Fish will tuck in around boulders so seams and cushions above and below the boulders are always good places for fish to hold. You can always jerk a streamer through these soft areas of cover as well.

Expect a beautiful week of weather with sunshine and daytime temperatures in the 50s and no wind.  It looks like a small front may move into the area toward the weekend bringing a chance of showers.  The weekend could offer some great fishing with cloudy skies and possibly some better hatches of March browns.  Flows from Libby Dam are stable at the moment.  It’s hard to say what will happen this time of year but for now, spring conditions are terrific.

The Boston Red Sox are enjoying spring training, getting into shape, and trying new line-ups each day.  Manager Alex Cora has been giving playing time to younger players which is always nice to see.  But it’s also good to see the big guns like Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, and Dustin Pedroia who played for the first time since last May this past week.  All in all MLB opening day can’t get here fast enough.  Go Sox!

Kootenai River fly fishing and man holding rainbow trout
LOC guide Sean McAfee with a perfect bread and butta Kootenai rainbow on the first day of spring.