Kootenai River Montana Fishing Report 4/21/2019

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: Present discharge from Libby Dam is 8,000cfs.  As runoff increases flows may increase this time of year as well.

In-Flow From Lake Koocanusa: Approximately 5,800 cfs

Kootenai River water temperature below Libby Dam: 38 degrees

Water Clarity: Recent showers and warmer temps have caused runoff to start.  Tributaries are now pushing a bit of color into the mainstem of the Kootenai River.  For now, the river is still in great shape and very fish-able.

Hatches: midge, baetis, March browns

Patterns: parachute Adams, Orvis purple parachute Adams, zebra midge, green goblin, olive emerger, 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

Dry fly fishing was picking up with pretty good hatches of baetis during the afternoon.  If you looked 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. Keep in mind the river is closed to fishing from the mouth of the Fisher River up to the Libby Dam.  There is some great nymphing water between Libby and the Kootenai Falls that offers pocket water on steroids 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 fair weather throughout most of the week with partly sunny skies and daytime temps in the 50s.  There is a chance of showers during the middle of the week as well.  This may increase snowmelt and runoff but we’ll have to see.  This time of year conditions can vary day by day.  If you’re trying to make plans, my guess is that conditions will improve a bit over the next couple days making the river fish-able for a bit longer before flows increase dramatically from Libby Dam.

In Boston Red Sox news, we’re off to a shaky start.  Things just aren’t clicking but it’s a long season. We’ve been here before.  Have faith in Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Mookie Betts, and the rest of the lineup. We just earned two solid wins against first place Tamba Bay so things are starting to look up.  Go Sox!

photo of Kootenai River and man fly fishing
LOC guide Sam Stevenson capturing spring fishing on the Kootenai River.