Kootenai River Montana Fishing Report 3-2-2020

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 3500 cfs

Kootenai River water temperature below Libby Dam: 39 degrees

Water Clarity: Clear and in good shape

Hatches: midge

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

THE STRETCH FROM LIBBY DAM DOWNSTREAM TO HIGHWAY 37 BRIDGE/FISHER RIVER IS NOW CLOSED FOR SPAWNING UNTIL JUNE 1.  BELOW HIGHWAY 37 THE RIVER IS OPEN TO ALL ANGLING.

Flows have been reduced and will remain stable at 4000cfs for the foreseeable future.  Conditions will be good and this is definitely the start of spring fishing.

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.

If you’re on the Kootenai and you’re goal is to catch a few trout, nymphing is the way to go.  This time of year fish 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 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.

If you’re game, 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.

photo of Montana's Kootenai River
The Kootenai River is in excellent shape for spring fishing.