Sep 15

A float on the Kootenai

My dad and I (my dad came along on the trip as we are forging some new traditions these days) had a trip with Linehan Outfitting Company over on the Kootenai, of which the Yaak is a tributary. We met Sean and headed to the dam on the Kootenai. First stop was to look at the fish just out of range, above the bridge that designates the fishable water. Sitting there were a few Bull Trout well above 25″, as well as several rainbows ranging from 6″ to 24″. So… there were fish in the river, of size.

A big river

A big river

We had a choice. Cover a lot of water and rack up some numbers. The “bread and butter” fish here is about 12″ and you can put a lot of them on the scorecard if you want to do that. We went another route. We put me on the streamer rig (about 7″ long and heavily weighted) and went after the big fish.

Shortly after starting our drift we went right over a rainbow that had to be over 30″.

I didn’t catch it.

I didn’t catch much of anything on the streamer, as it turned out, but I knew that was a risk going in. Sean had nice things to say about my casting and about my sticking with things. I managed to catch one pike minnow and hooked and lost a bull trout. The water was so clear you could see at least 30 feet in the water and I saw the bull chomping on the fly. He came unbuttoned and that was the only bull I had eat.

I switched over to dry/dropper and nymphs and picked up a few fish in the last mile or so of the drift. My dad ended up as top rod, but not by much.



The Kootenai is a cool river, a big, broad river, a river without much traffic on it and a river that stayed cool throughout the hot, parched Montana summer.

I’ll be back next year, and I’ll be rigged for the big boys (and girls). Those fish are stuck in my head.

Reminds me a bit of tarpon fishing. You see the fish, you know they are there, sometimes they eat, and sometimes they don’t.