Kootenai River Montana Fishing Report 3-23-2020

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: 4000cfs

In-Flow From Lake Koocanusa: Approximately 1600 cfs

Kootenai River water temperature below Libby Dam: 39 degrees

Water Clarity: Clear and in good shape

Hatches: midge, baetis, March browns

Patterns: zebra midge, midge pupa, parachute Adams, parachute March brown, 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


Kootenai River flows will remain stable at 4000cfs for the foreseeable future. Conditions will be good and this is definitely the start of spring fishing.

March brown mayflies have started to pop later in the afternoons each day.  Dry fly fishing is still minimal but 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.

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. 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:  It looks like a low pressure will move into the area bringing possible rain or snow showers throughout the week.  Daytime temperatures will be cooler as well and will be in the 40s each day.  None of this will impact river conditions to any great degree.  In fact, the cloud cover may actually increase hatches of March browns and baetis.

Fly fisherman on Montana's Kootenai River.

Linehan Outfitting guide Lucas Jones getting in some spring fishing on the Kootenai River.