Big "Y" Flies

Big "Y" Flies
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Discussing fishing flies, trout flies, salmon flies, fly fishing gear and equipment, Idaho and Montana fishing rivers, NW rivers, fly tying and fly fishing trips. Over 50 years experience in fly fishing, best flies, fly tying, fly fishing techniques, fish stories, directions to rivers and lakes and great fly fishing tall tales with special communications from area guides.

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Here is the scoop. We will also be going on some shorter side trips this summer as well. They will be posted here. If you live in Montana, Idaho or Washington state, you may want to contact IdahoAngler@live.com for details. You'll meet some really great fellow fishers!
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Friday, May 25, 2012

Kootenai River - The Forgotten Mighty River

"The Kootenai River, Idaho/Montana" is posted by YellowStoneFly aka Idaho Angler at Idaho Fly Fishers blogspot. "The Kootenai River has its origins in British Columbia's Kootenay National Park in Canada. From there it flows 485 miles into northwest Montana and through the towns of Libby and Troy. It flows into northern Idaho, then back into Canada and Kootenay Lake. Ultimately it joins with the Columbia River. Sixteen miles north of Libby, the river is held back by Libby Dam, creating a 90-mile long reservoir which reaches into Canada.

The Kootenai River is the second largest tributary to the Columbia River in terms of runoff volume, third in terms of drainage area. In Montana it is second only to the Clark Fork in volume and size. The major tributaries of the Kootenai River are the St. Mary, Bull Elk, Fisher, Yaak, Moyie, and Slocan Rivers. The Kootenai Basin is largely mountainous and dominated by three major ranges. The Rocky Mountain Range and its offshoot, the Flathead Range, constitute the eastern boundary; the Purcell Range roughly bisects it from north to south. The Selkirk and Cabinet ranges mark the western boundary. Elevations reach a maximum of about 12,000 feet with most summit elevations between 6,000 and 7,500 feet. Except for a few areas, the entire watershed is heavily forested.

The Kootenai River supports fisheries populations of westslope cutthroat trout, bull trout, Kokanee salmon, and rainbow trout, among other species. White sturgeon also live in river, mostly below Kootenai Falls. Libby Dam, completed in 1972, has impacted fisheries values and water quality, although to what extent is still undetermined. Water quality within the Kootenai River basin is generally considered high and the river is considered to be a Blue Ribbon trout fishing river providing exciting sport fishing action. The drainage contains a wide variety of insect life, resulting in prolific hatches throughout the season. The Kootenai and its tributaries are the only waters in Montana to contain a native strain of rainbow trout, called Columbia Redbands, which are indigenous to the head waters of the Columbia River, and known for their excellent fighting ability.

The river varies from big and broad to the rushing waters in the China Rapids Canyon and over Kootenai Falls. The waters between the falls and Libby Dam offer a variety of deep water, shallow rapids and mid-stream islands for fishing access. Many people fish from the banks and islands or use drift boats and float tubes. Boat launches can be found along the shores of the Kootenai. Consistent angling usually starts around the middle of June and lasts well into November." ***

In Idaho, the Kootenai is a wonderful trout fishery. The last three times I have fished here, I have only seen one drift boat each day. Floats are generally long and will take most of the day. My favorite access points in Idaho are the Yaak River ramp in the campground and the access at Twin Rivers Campground near Moyie Springs, ID. While there, check out the Moyie River which dumps into the Kootenai at Twin Rivers. After snow melt, throw Adams and Elk Wing caddis to trout in feeding lines below rapids. The action is frequently non-stop for hours. The bigger fish however are in the summer once the hoppers arrive. The larger rainbow and cutties are generally hanging everywhere along the banks, near structure and even in the "frog" water. A midge caddis dropper off of your large foam hoppers will also bring fish to the boat. Another suggestion is large foam, ugly stonefly patterns. PS-Don't forget to stop frequently, take in the beauty and fish the multiple rapids and shoals all along the river which are only accessible by drift boat or raft.

The Idaho Kootenai is almost never fished and can provide just as much action as the Montana side. Also, do not forget your Idaho and Montana fishing licenses if you put in at the Yaak. The first six miles of river is in Montana and the rest is in Idaho. And they do check licenses here, particularly around Leonia, ID. Have a great time and do fish the Kootenai when you can.

          Moyie River
          Bull River, MT

*** Our thanks to the US Forest Service for providing some of this information.

1 comment:

  1. You have kept your information interesting and original. Your hobby are great and I also love It.

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