Kootenai  rainbow
Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Kootenai River Montana
The Kootenai River is the Kootenay River in Canada. It
is historically called the Flatbow River. It's a major river
in southeastern British Columbia and northwestern
Montana. It's a major tributary of the Columbia River.

The Kootenai River runs for about 485 miles from its
origin in the Kootenay Ranges of the Canadian Rockies.
It enters northwestern Montana and the northernmost
part of the Idaho Panhandle and returns into Canada.
It's a glacier stream that flows through a rugged
landscape of mountains and valleys.

Fly fishing the Kootenai River is a real experience. It's a
big, fast river that can be dangerous to fish from a drift
boat at times. Drifting the river is a boat is the best way
to fish it. It can only be waded when the water is low.  

There's yet another problem. A prime section of the
Kootenai River is a tailwater and you have to watch the
flow, especially if you wade it. Water from Libby Dam can
change the flow in a heart beat. The Kootenai River
holds the state of Montana's rainbow trout record as well
as its whitefish record. Both fish were caught below
Libby Dam.

Fly fishing the Kootenai River can be difficult. It is
usually running high and fast during the Summer. The
tailwater section of the Kootenai River is seventeen
miles long. The tailwater is wide and usually has fast
flowing water. There are some braided areas along with
runs and deep pools. Access to the tailwater section is
great. There are several boat ramps. Highway #37
follows along the Kootenai River much of its length
above Libby.

From Libby to the Idaho state line, the Kootenai River
runs for about thirty miles. The best fishing in this area
is above Kootenai Falls. This section of the Kootenai
River has more riffles and pocket water than the section
below the dam. Access is difficult on this section of the
Kootenai River. It flows through private property. The  
Kootenai Falls area has some good access points. The
Yaak River, a tributary stream, joins in on the flow at
Libby. Fishing below Kootenai Falls is also possible but
it's not quite as good as the above two sections.

The Kootenai has lots of different aquatic insects and
they vary from the freestone sections to the tailwater.
The most plentiful mayflies are the Blue-winged olives
and Pale Morning duns but there are many more. The
tailwaters have tricos. Caddisflies consist mostly of
Spotted Sedges, Little Shorthorned sedges and October
Caddis but again, there are others.

Sculpin are plentiful throughout the river in both sections
and so are midges. Midges are very important in the

Fly fishing the Kootenai River can be good any day of
the season.
Springtime is a good time for fly fishing the Kootenai  
River. The tailwater section is usually clear even during
Summertime is the most popular time to fish the river.
Fall is a good time to fish the tailwater section of the
Kootenai River.

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and Trout Flies
Type of Stream

Brown Trout
Rainbow Trout


Northwestern Montana

Nearest Towns

3rd Sat. May - Nov 30th

Access is great in most sections. The
lower section from Libby to Idaho has
private property areas.

Non-Resident License
State of Montana

National Weather Service Link

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and
Trout Flies

USGS Flows:
Below Libby Dam
Free Shipping Continental U. S.
100% Satisfaction Guaranteed
Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (sales@perfectflystore.com)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (sales@perfectflystore.com)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $100 are shipped via
Priority Mail.  
(Fishing report 7/25/16
(Bottom of page)
Kootenai River Fishing Report:
04/17/14 The best stretch to fish is from Fisher
River to Osprety Landing. Fishing is currently
closed from Libby Dam downstream to the
mouth of the Fisher River.
Blue-winged olives
midges are working the best at this time.
05/06/14 Customer ordering flies reported
the discharges have been very high lately
and no one has been able to fish.
06/24/14 Customer reporting he is catching
plenty of nice size brown and rainbow trout.
Several hatches are taking place and the
trout responding well to dry flies. Golden
Stoneflies are hatching big time.
07/27/14 Two good reports from anglers
ordering more flies. Plenty of PMDs, caddisflies
and Little Yellow Stoneflies hatching.
10/18/14 We don't report on the Kootenai as
often as we should but this one is well
deserved. A customer reported catch
several larger size brown including one that
measured 29 inches. This was taken on our
White Belly Sculpin.
12/15/14 The season ended November 30th  
We will resume reports when the season
opens next year
01/13/15 We have developed an accurate
hatch chart for the river (based on actual
stream samplings) and can advise you as to
what flies you will need to use for any time
frame. Just send us an email anytime.
02/07/15 Two good reports the past week.
Much warmer weather and good stream
levels. Midges, red and cream larva and
pupa in tandem are producing.
03/05/15 We received another good
report last week. The weather and stream
conditions for this coming week are great.
05/30/15 The river is in a full blown out
stage right now. This usually last two or
three weeks but hopefully, will end by mid
07/10/15 Runoff is over and the river in great
shape. PMDs, Spotted Sedges, Little Yellow
and Golden stones, and more hatches taking
place. Shoot us an email.
08/10/15 Sorry for the lack of reports but it
wasn't that the fishing isn't good. It is
excellent. Good stream levels, lots of
hatches and lots of trout being caught.
03/25/16 We no longer keep current
fishing reports. You can call or send us
an email for the latest information and
fly recommendations.
07/25/16 A report to mention customers are
reporting some very good catches the past
two weeks. Lots of hatches and good all
around conditions