Late September finds a stunning autumn in full swing. It just doesn’t get any more beautiful out there, and the fishing is pretty good too. Winter is coming and trout have their feedbags on, last call to fatten up.
The river has been flowing at 6,000 cfs out of Libby Dam since early September, and water temps are ideal for active trout at 58 degrees. Because the Kootenai River is such a large body of water, ambient temps are slow to influence water temps. Much more important is the temperature of the water coming out of the reservoir, and the level in the water column the dam engineers draw from. Even as low as Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho, seventy miles downstream from the dam, water temps are currently fluctuating only a degree or two in either direction of the dam temps in a 24 hour period, despite some freezing nights.
It’s been a classic September in terms of weather so far, with lows in the 30’s and 40’s and highs in the 60’s and 70’s. Cool, cloudy and drizzly weather is bringing on nice hatches of Blue Winged Olives and Pseudos throughout the system, and we are seeing October Caddis on the lower river. The big bug terrestrial game is still in play river-wide as well, and is bringing up nice fish.
There’s a decent run of Kokanee Salmon in the lower river at this time, their end destination the Kootenai falls. We don’t specifically target the Kokanee, but they bring a nice splash of color to the crystal clear water and we have on occasion taken them on the fly.
We’ve been fishing out of the boat in the big river a lot, but we have also been getting out into the back-country to sample the forest at it’s most spectacular. There are innumerable lakes and streams where jewel bright Westslope Cutthroat and brookies can be found to test our pet two-weight, and where we’ve yet to see another soul. All in all, it’s a really special time to be outside in Kootenai Country.