kootenai river fly fishing

Kootenai River Montana: Flows, Floating and Fishing

Kootenai River Montana – Tucked away in the the northwestern part of the state, this is a huge drainage with low traffic and incredible views. It has some great fishing opportunities and the intense Kootenai Falls sets the stage for many movie scenes. It’s used in A River Runs Through It and The Reverent.

The area immediately below the Koocanusa Reservoir Dam has some huge fish. The dam releases stable temperatures and the spillway dumps out Mysis Shrimp. The big trout do not come easy but they are worth the effort. There is a ton of access as well.

Flows And Weather

Kootenai River bl Libby Dam nr Libby MT

  • Flow: 3950 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 17.77 ft
.
USGS

KOOTENAI RIVER AT LEONIA, ID

  • Water Temp: 39.56 ° F
  • Flow: 4640 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 10.43 ft
.
USGS
Clear
Monday
Clear
20%
Overcast
Tuesday
Overcast
20%
Snow
Wednesday
Snow
90%
Overcast
Thursday
Overcast
10%
Mostly Cloudy
Friday
Mostly Cloudy
20%
.

Rapids and Float Notes

The first section of the river below the dam is fairly fast but does not have any major rapids or hazards. China Rapids delivers the first big set of whitewater and Kootenai Falls is right below. This stretch is extreme and is better passed unless you are an extremely skilled kayaker.

Alexander Creek Rec Area – A mile below the dam. Nice access site.

Dunn Creek Rec Area – Only 1 more mile down to reach this nice recreation area.

Blackwell Flats Rec Area – Another short 1 mile jump. There are no shortage of options in the first few miles below the dam.

Osprey Landing – 5 miles from Blackwell. Jennings rapid is the only event on this float.

Libby Bridge – 9 miles to the bridge makes this a great full day float option.

Bighorn Terrace – 10 miles down. You have to run China Rapids on this one. Make sure you don’t miss the takeout or you will get pushed into the falls.

Troy Bridge – 9 miles. Good launch site.

Yaak River – There’s a campground where the Yaak comes in. 8 miles below Troy.

Leonia – 6 miles from the Yaak confluence. This is the Idaho border.

Shuttle Services

Kootenai River Outfitters – 406-295-9444

River Specific Fishing Regulations

Exceptions to Standard Regulations: Kootenai River

  • As per the District Standard, the Kootenai River is closed to angling for bull trout; any bull trout caught must be immediately released.

Libby Dam to Highway 37 Bridge, near Fisher River

  • Open June 1 through February 28.
  • Combined Trout: 1 daily and in posession, 28 inches minimum length.

Highway 37 Bridge, near Fisher River, to Idaho border

  • Open entire year.
  • Combined trout: 4 daily and in possession, includes 3 under 13 inches and only 1 over 18 inches.

Kootenai Falls to 0.8 miles downstream of Swinging Bridge

  • Snagging: open for salmon from September 15 through November 30.