Everything You Need To Know About Our Fishing Program.
How We FishThe majority of our angling is done from a boat of some sort, though we do wade fish in select venues. A typical day with KCA is spent floating an eight to ten mile section of river, fishing as we float, and anchoring or pulling over as called for.
We have a variety of watercraft that we use to get our clients to the fish, in all manner of water types and conditions, including drift boat, jet boat, and inflatable.
TechniquesIn any given season in our search for hungry trout, we utilize every technique under the sun to get our flies where they need to be in the water column. In the spring we tend to fish slow and deep with nymphs and streamers, attentive to the first sign of Skwala Stoneflies, March Browns and Blue Winged Olives coming off on top. In the summer we like to fish large foam dry flies and twitch them on the surface to elicit strikes. In the fall & on cloudy days, we add streamers to the mix. And when there are insect hatches with fish keying in on them, as there are most evenings of a summer, we feed them what’s on the menu. Evening hatches on the Kootenai can be a thing of wonder and challenge. With small dries, the drift matters. So does fly selection and pinpoint accuracy. It’s one of our favorite games.
Where We FishWhere we fish within our network of fisheries depends on the time of year and client preference, we have a venue to suit every taste. Montana is known as Big Sky Country, but in our corner Big Water Country is a better fit. The Kootenai River, our primary fishery, is the second largest tributary to the Columbia River, fluctuating between 25,000 and 4,000 cubic feet per second throughout the year. We have well over a hundred miles of uncrowded fishable water in our home drainage, with more a bit further afield. We also access select tributaries, lakes and reservoirs at certain times of year. We are the only outfitter that accesses the coveted canyon stretch of the Kootenai in both Montana and Idaho. Read more about the waters we fish here.
A note on our region: Highway signs upon entering Kootenai Country proclaim it to be: Rich, Rare, Remote. We often find ourselves marveling at how very true that is, on so many levels. Kootenai Country is an unique place- from the culture to the natural ecosystems. The land and terrain itself is certainly rich: from minerals to timber, freshwater, flora and fauna. Everything you need to sustain life and then some, can be found here. The locals are hardy, true, and define the old world American values of community- increasingly rare in today’s world. And nobody who has come here can deny how remote it is-a defining characteristic and saving grace that we cherish in today’s overcrowded world.
When We FishWe fish year-round with the exception of the dead of winter, as conditions allow: from March to November. Every year is a bit different, though we can usually find good fishing somewhere come March. As with springtime fishing anywhere, plans need to be a bit flexible. Summertime and early autumn in Kootenai Country tends to be as idyllic as it gets, with sun drenched days into the nineties and cool nights into the fifties. Despite the hot days, Kootenai water temps don’t suffer from the overheating issues affecting other fisheries in the state, making it the perfect place to be during the hottest months of July and August, for fish and anglers alike.
What We Fish WithYou are welcome to fish with our rods and reels at no extra cost. Should you wish to bring your own rods, for the vast majority of our fishing we use:
For those seeking a rainbow like the one-time world record that hailed from the Kootenai, we don’t mind helping you try. For trophy fish you’ll want to bring 6-8 weight rods with 10-24 ft fast sink tips and be prepared to cast heavy flies all day long, with a potential goose egg (or possibly the largest trout of your life) to show for it.
Leaders & TippetWe’ve got Leaders and Tippet for days, but should you want to bring your own, we fish 9ft 4X nylon leaders and complement them with mono and fluorocarbon tippet in 3-5X range.
A note on fluorocarbon vs monofilament tippet and leader material: It’s a good idea to have both mono and fluoro in your kit. We use fluorocarbon for subsurface applications on the whole, as it has a tendency to sink and can drown delicate dries. Mono is a better choice for surface applications.
FliesWe supply all the flies you will need when you fish with us. Our fly selection is a dynamic, ever-evolving, and extensive affair. If, like us, you are a compulsive tier or prepper, the best thing to do would be to call or email us when you’re getting ready to come up and we will give you a bead on our current favorites. You can browse our short list of tried and true patterns here. We are always on the lookout for new styles of flies, so if you have a magic fly from your home water in your box, don’t leave it at home!
What We Fish ToWe have a lot of variety in Kootenai Canyon Country. The Kootenai River itself has a healthy population of the native and stunning Columbia River Redband Trout and Westslope Cutthroat throughout. The lower Kootenai also adds to the mix a stronghold of brown trout that we take pleasure in seeking out.
The larger rainbow trout in the system tend to be Kamloops, a native Redband strain from lower in the Kootenai system, and the endangered Bull Trout, a type of char. We don’t target Bull Trout specifically by law, as they are sensitive and protected fish that don’t handle pressure well, but they will occasionally latch onto a streamer or a smaller fish you are fighting, and it’s always great fun when they do.
As for other species, should you ever tire of trout, we’ve discovered some fun venues for Northern Pike, Smallmouth & Largemouth Bass in our area. They like mice patterns and other large, loud fare, and are often sight fished to while cruising, very reminiscent of saltwater flats fishing. Pike are invasive predators to our area with with explosive population growth rates and as such are the only fish that we harvest.