Kootenai River Canyon
Kootenai River Outfitters Montana
Kootenai River Upper Canyon

The Kootenai River

Making its way in an arch through the Northwestern corner of Montana the Kootenai is one of the least known and traveled but arguably best tail waters in this state. The Kootenai is a freestone glacier system flowing through deep beautiful valleys and surrounded by National Forest. Traveling approximately 90 miles in Montana on its way from the Canadian border there are roughly 70 miles of fishable water below Libby dam. The Kootenai is classified "Blue Ribbon" by the state of Montana and home to hard fighting Columbia Redband Rainbow and Westslope Cutthroat that will average 10"-14" with some pushing the 16"-24" range.

While other more "famous" Montana rivers might average larger fish, those rivers almost guarantee that you will be sharing the water with many other people / boats. We believe that a quality experience is much more than just the size of the fish. We will take quality fishing, solitude, scenery, and competent knowledgeable guides any day over the "bumper boat" scene that has become the norm on so many other western rivers. A busy day on the Kootenai River means you might see 3 other boats in an average 8 to 9 mile float. Most days you will pretty much have the river to yourselves. The Koot is "Big Water" by most any standards, and quite a bit larger than its Southwest Montana cousins, with minimum flows never dropping below 4000 cfs and averaging 8-12,000 cfs. Most of the fly fishing here is done from drift boats thereby allowing us to reach places that would otherwise be inaccessible. We do however stop and wade many of the islands, deep runs, pools and back channels.

The majority of our fishing is dry fly. Since these fish see much less pressure than other rivers they will still consistently take a well presented fly. But that doesn't mean we don't do our share of nymphing and throwing streamers. Though we can never guarantee fish or fish size, we do guarantee the quality and knowledge of our guides. We think that there is more to a day on the water than just fishing. A good friendly and locally knowledgeable guide can make the difference between an average day and a great day. Our pledge to you is that we will always do our best and try what ever it takes to produce for you. Hatches of Baetis, Caddis, PMD's, March Browns, Green Drakes, Stoneflies, and Midges of all colors are our staples. We also see great terrestrial action. Hoppers and ants in the summer will always take some bigger fish. The Kootenai is primarily an evening fishery during the summer when we may be on the water till at least 10 pm. During those periods we will not start till noon or 1 pm. Earlier and later in the season we adjust times accordingly.

Check the Hatch Chart and River Report here.

While most of the Kootenai River is open year round with quality fly fishing beginning as early as April - May. The end of May through June normally sees high run off so our private water, lakes and tributaries are our focus then. The Kootenai is almost always ready to go by July. Great fishing usually continues well into the end of October. Don't think that means the early season can't produce well though. This is the "banana belt" of Montana and March and April can produce some fantastic fishing as well. Though more hit and miss an early spring warm spell can trigger some great Baetis and Midge action. Water releases from Libby Dam keep temperatures at optimal levels for fish year round so even though it may be a bit cold outside fish will feed regularly. And for those streamer diehards big fish are starting to wake after a long winter and they are hungry!

Kootenai Rainbow Trout


Montana Kootenai RiverKootenai Rainbow Trout Montana
KRO - MT Oufitter Lic # 10137