Spring-Kootenai River Montana Fishing Report 3-11-19

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:

Libby Dam will decrease outflows from 10 kcfs to 4 kcfs over four days, starting on Monday evening, 3/11. Detailed flow changes are listed below.  Scheduled flow changes from Monday (3/11) to Friday (3/15) are as follows:

Date                                      Time MDT           Change                 Flows

Monday, 3/11                    21-24                     decrease             10 kcfs to 8 kcfs

Tuesday, 3/12                    21-24                     decrease             8 kcfs to 6.5 kcfs

Wednesday, 3/13             21-24                     decrease             6.5 kcfs to 5 kcfs

Thursday, 3/14                  22-24                     decrease             5 kcfs to 4 kcfs

Friday, 3/15                        00-24                     constant               4 kcfs

After Thursday (3/14), outflow from Libby Dam will remain at 4 kcfs. The March Water Supply Forecast sets the end-of-March pool target at 2441.3 ft, which is above the current pool elevation. It is expected that the Libby pool elevation will continue to decrease gradually during March due to low inflows (lower than minimum dam discharge).

In-Flow From Lake Koocanusa: Approximately 2,100cfs

Kootenai River water temperature below Libby Dam: 35 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,

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

Snowpack is building nicely here in Kootenai country but it’s not exactly spring yet. Obviously, this bodes well for summer conditions and current Kootenai River basin snowpack is currently about 90 percent of average.

Dry fly fishing is pretty minimal during winter months here on Kootenai River. Midge hatches are sporadic. Look for rising fish in the afternoons especially in slick pools, flatwater, and off current areas. Don’t expect much in the way of noses. Water temperatures are cold this time of year and not conducive to promoting bug activity.

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 winter 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.

It’s beginning to feel a bit like spring is on the way.  It’s definitely not here yet but daytime temps are expected to be near or above freezing for the week.  Expect a front to move into the area this evening bringing rain and snow mix depending on elevation through mid-week.  The mood of early will return later in the week expect partly sunny skies and slightly warmer daytime temperatures.

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, 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!

Photo of Kootenai National Forest
The view from here.