We typically post a Kootenai River fishing recap for each season, but in 2022 most of the details felt repetitive, with greatly reduced wildfire and injury drama, too. In the end, we just went fishing and had fun. So in lieu of regurgitating facts about flows and insect hatches (click here here for a previous post that goes into great detail and is very much relevant), I’ll provide a brief recap followed by glimpses into what it’s like to be on the Kootenai with us throughout the different seasons.
Pretty much all you need to know about our 2022 Kootenai River fishing season is this: We had snowpack levels over 140% of normal heading into an abnormally cool and precipitation-heavy spring, which combined to extend the high water period beyond what we’re used to. Trout took some extra time getting comfy. The river started fishing consistently after the first week of July- a tad bit late compared to most years.
Once it got going, fishing was excellent overall. Kootenai Country had an exceptionally dry and warm late summer and fall, with records set for cumulative days without rain. From the middle of July to the end of September we received no significant precipitation. This caused problems of its own in the ecosystem, but all it meant on the river was an extended season. It was a gorgeous fall to be angling for trout on the Kootenai River in Montana & Idaho.
The only trend of note that varied from previous years is that thanks to the exceptionally drenching spring, the reservoir actually turned over. As a result, the water was just a bit off-color for much of the year. That is actually a good thing, on many levels. It can make spooky fish a touch less wary, always a positive. But more importantly, it delivers a lot of extra nutrients into the system, which ultimately translates to fish food.
That’s our 2022 Kootenai River fishing season in a nutshell. Read on to dip a toe in the water with us…
An entire seasonal wardrobe change in a six-hour span.
It begins with snow and ends with rain. In between, there is sun.
It begins and ends with nymphs. In between, there are dries.
At first glance it is still winter. Trees bare of leaves, banks capped with receding hairlines of dirty snow.
If the eyes deceive, the nose knows. One wet-muddy-green whiff is enough: spring has sprung, the egg has cracked, the flood is coming.
Feeding time is a fleeting frenzy, announced by swallows winging low. Some of the morsels they seek are small and some large, while some are just right:
March Browns, Nemouras, Caddis.
Some flutter, some sail, some struggle in the surface film.
Boxes full of feathered steel emerge, there are choices to be made.
Choose right and the eats, for a time, are rabid.
Spring…is all about seizing the moment.
Shade is sparse, the water is crystal jade.
It begins with sun and ends with sun.
It begins with dries and ends with dries. In between, there are dries.
Hoppers click in the rocks, Ospreys chirp in the pines.
A giant fly that resembles nothing in nature is yanked across the surface like it’s a grasshopper with seizures or perhaps equipped with malfunctioning jet propulsion.
There is actual prop wash.
A trout bursts through the wash and does a back-flip over the fly, misses it entirely, and then somehow manages to find and smash it a second time.
In the resulting explosion of water droplets it’s hard to be sure whether the trout or the angler sets the hook, but it doesn’t matter.
Summer…is all about savage takes.
It begins with frost and ends with fleece. In between, there might be sun.
It might begin with nymphs, it might end with streamers. In between there are definitely dries.
Everything is still. Oar stroke ripples feel invasive, normal speech too harsh.
Fish are rising in the tail-outs and slower seams, like a reverse rain.
On the water there are Olives, and Pseudos- little mayflies with wings like sails.
The boat creeps in.
There is a standing order for no blind casting- real targets only.
A fish within range elevates, a delicate nose to dorsal reveal.
The cast lands well upstream, is adjusted, fed.
When the fish eats, the take is so subtle it hardly displaces a drop.
Fall…is all about finesse.
Which season would you choose? Personally, I don’t have a favorite season to be on the water. Or rather I do, but it always seems to be the one that’s in front of me at the moment. Except winter. If it’s so cold that ice forms on the line, you won’t find me, because I’m not there. Stay warm my fellow fish-beguiled friends, and see you when it’s time to emerge from the den.
2022 Kootenai River Fishing Season Recap brought to you by Rita Rose