How to Go Kootenay River Fly Fishing

How to Go Kootenay River Fly Fishing

Kootenay river fly fishing experience is every angler's wet dream. The "I want to retire here yesterday" kind of dream. The river itself flanked by the rugged Purcell range, the towering behind of the Rocky mountain range, and the Steeples. To say it's scenic will be an understatement. To crown it all, it's prime location means there's a lot of wildlife, including a thriving population of grasshoppers during peak season. And you know how fishes love their hoppers. 

How Kootenay River Fly Fishing Works 

So the Kootenay river's BIG. Like, "you need a boat" kind of immense. You probably shouldn't waddle in the water kind of big. You get the point. Depending on how far out you move, or how stable your boat stays, you might find yourself alternating between stream set-ups and dry-fly figs. 

What you should note though is that the Kootenay river's highly erratic. The reason is that, despite its immense size, the river's movement is highly regulated by the Libby dam. Coincidentally, your most thrilling Kootenay river fly fishing experience will come from the area close to the dam. It's where the state's biggest fish was caught - at 33 pounds and 38 inches! 

If you're not a trophy hunter, and favor quantity over quality, the Kootenay river's big enough for you too. The river boasts some 1500 to 2500 catchable rainbow trouts per mile. 

Best Time for Kootenay River Fly Fishing 

The Kootenay river has an earlier fly fishing season than most places. Meaning if you already have a regular spot, you won't have to miss it - just take an early fly fishing trip and you can visit other places. 

So when is the best time for Kootenay River Fly fishing? Like most places, the spring offers the most bountiful angling opportunities. It's when insects graze languidly thanks to fading winter, warmer climes, and blooming plants. Fishes literally have a bouquet to choose from, and they do. However, instead of the bountiful season beginning in April - like with most rivers, the Kootenay river fly fishing season begins around March. A full month ahead of its contemporaries. 

This early start runs all through the summer, takes a break and resumes in the later parts of August through October. Note that during the preseason, you'll need to use fast sinking lines if you plan on catching bigger fishes. 

Tips for Fly Fishing in Kootenay River 

First, don't hesitate to ask for help. As we've already said, the Kootenay River is huge. Along with its size, comes a thriving fly fishing community and shops around. Anglers tend to behave like a close-knit family, so once you indicate your interest or need for assistance, you'll be flooded with it. Besides, the beauty of angling is in discovering hidden spots - who better to show you hidden gems than the locals around. 

Second, a 9 ft 5-wt rod might be okay for average-sized rainbow trout, but you'll need at least a 9 ft 6-wt fly rod with sink tips for streamers and larger nymphs. You should be able to find all these in local fly fishing shops, but knowing what to expect beforehand gives you the option of bringing your own gear from home. 

Third, the water is always freezing. Not because the weather's never warm, but because of the Libby dam - it always keeps things cool. 

Fishes in the Kootenay River 

Without a doubt, the Kootenay river offers some really great angling opportunities. Just by mere marveling at its sheer size, you can tell that it'll hold large fishes. The trick is figuring out how to catch them. 

As we've said, Libby dam is where the big stuff. The rainbow trout caught in 1997, weighing 33 lbs and measuring 38 inches was found at the bottom of the Libby dam. The state record mountain whitefish was also caught below the Libby dam. The area's been heavily regulated to protect the fishes, so all they do is feed. 

Then there are the Kootenay falls. It's home to a variety of trout - both brown and rainbow. Make sure you know what you're hunting for before stepping on a boat. 

The most incredible fly fishing opportunities are often the most difficult. Need challenging waters? Kootenay river is it.


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