Fishing the Kootenai River
Nice Kootenai Rainbow
Rainbow trout caught on the Kootenai River with Dave Blackburn's Kootenai Angler guide service. Photo courtesy Kootenai Angler.
Kootenai River Bull Trout
A big bull trout caught with a sinking line in deep water below Libby Dam. Photo courtesy Dave Blackburn, Kootenai Angler.
Rainbow trout. Photo courtesy Linehan Outfitting Company.
Beautiful scenery, great fishing!
by Dawn Ballou, LibbyMT.com
July 12, 2005
The Kootenai River begins in British Columbia and flows through northwest Montana and Libby. "It is one of the west's premier dry fly trout rivers," says Libby fly-fishing guide and river expert, Dave Blackburn who owns and operates Kootenai Angler. "The Kootenai and its tributaries are the only waters in Montana to contain a native strain of rainbow trout, called Columbia Redbands. They are known for their excellent acrobatic fighting ability and their characteristic "football" shape," says Blackburn.
The Kootenai River was rated the "Best of the West" in Montana by Field & Stream magazine in their July 2005 magazine. Libby’s Kootenai River country was picked as their choice for best place to "Lose the Crowds" in Montana offering "some of the state's finest rainbow trout fishing."
The waters of the Kootenai River flow through sections of river courses, through a 90-mile long reservoir behind Libby Dam, over water falls and rapids, and though Kootenay Lake in Canada. Ultimately, after a journey of many hundreds of miles between the United States and Canada, it flows into the Columbia River. This river is known for its scenic beauty and blue ribbon fishing. Species include westslope cutthroat trout, bull trout, Kokanee salmon, rainbow trout and white sturgeon.
Below the dam, the river varies from big and broad to the rushing waters in China Rapids canyon and over Kootenai Falls. The waters between the falls and Libby Dam offer a variety of deep water, shallow rapids and mid-stream islands for fishing access. Many people fish from the banks and islands, but the best access is with drift boats and float tubes. Consistent angling usually starts around the middle of June and lasts well into November.
According to Blackburn, "Fish are active year round with the controlled consistently cool flows from the Dam. Weed beds, riffles and long deep runs contain an array of aquatic insect life to support from 1500-2500 catchable trout per mile. The Kootenai fishery remains one of the western rivers that is virtually unaffected by drought and forest fires due to the deep, large reservoir which insures an endless cool water supply."
Linehan Outfitting guides fishermen on the Kootenai River out of Libby and Yaak. "It's a place of dense, coniferous forests, tremendous numbers of game, and a place where there are miles and miles of trout water. It's most efficiently fished by drift boat in the traditional float/wade style and wading is very user friendly since most of the river bottom is gravel."
Both Kootenai Angler and Linehan Outfitting offer custom river fly fishing guide services and lodging near the river. They welcome questions and comments about fishing on the Kootenai River. Both guide services have wonderful websites with extensive information about fishing the Kootenai River and photos showing the area and fish caught on the river.
A fishing license is required to fish Montana waters. Licenses are available at local sporting good stores and other locations in Libby and Troy.
Photos courtesy Kootenai Angler and Linehan Outfitting Company
Dave Blackburn Kootenai Angler Log guest cabins located on the banks of the Kootenai River below Libby Dam near the confluence with Fisher River. Fully furnished with private porches overlooking the river. They own the nearby River Bend restaurant and saloon, on the banks of the Kootenai River, as well as the local Orvis fly shop in downtown Libby. 1-800-322-9339, 406-293-7578, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.montana-flyfishing.com
Linehan Outfitting Company Based out of Libby and Yaak. Their Anglers Hut is on Hwy 37 just north of Libby, next to Macs Market. Guided fly fishing trips on the Kootenai River and other nearby lakes and streams. Casting instruction available. Lodging includes their Kootenai River House located on 6.5 acres on the banks of the Kootenai River or 3 hand-crafted log cabins located in the scenic Yaak country near the Yaak River, and a close drive to the Kootenai River. 1-800-596-0034, (406) 295-4872, E-mail: email@example.com, http://www.fishmontana.com/