The Kootenay River – British Columbia Fly-Fishing

Located in S.E. British Columbia, the Kootenay River is a large freestone river that has a good population of bull, cutthroat, and rainbow trout. Dave Brown Outfitters has been guiding on the Kootenay since 1999 and was the first fly fishing service on this historic water.

The Kootenay River

A fish caught while fly fishing on the Kootenay RiverThe Kootenay River below Libby Dam in Montana is a renowned tailwater fishery. But above the dam and Lake Koocanusa, on the Canadian side of the border, the river is virtually untamed and unknown. Fishing’s best on this vast drainage in April and May, then again from late August thru October. These are the times the Kootenay runs low and clear. The river consists of long featureless flats with faster moving side channels and braids mixed in. It’s home to decent populations of westslope cutthroats, cuttbows, rainbows and bull trout – some of which are very large. This is an extremely scenic river: to the east is the Steeples, the towering backside of the Rocky Mountain Range; and to the west is the rugged Purcell Range. The river valley is covered with lodgepole pine and aspen stands, while sage brush and native bunch grass line the river’s banks. Wildlife is abundant and so are grasshoppers at the height of the season!

Fly Fishing the Kootenay River

Fish caught while Fly Fishing on the Kootenay RiverBecause of the Kootenay’s immense size, all our fishing is done from drift boats and Jet Boats . Anglers will find themselves switching back and forth between dry-fly rigs and streamer set-ups with high-density sink-tip lines. During the pre-runoff season, anglers spend time fishing for huge bull trout with fast-sinking lines. Dries are called for when good hatches of caddis and Skwala stoneflies come off, and the river can come alive with surface feeding cutthroats and rainbows. Late in the season, fishing a Turck’s Tarantula or Chernobyl Ant along undercut banks often produces great results.

The best times to fish the Kootenay are from April into late May, then again from late August thru October.

Giant Bull Trout
Join us in the Fall for a Bull Trout expereince you will never forget.We use a jet Boat to move up and down the river in search of Monster Bulls.Check out our  video .

The Elk, St. Mary and Bull Rivers are all within an easy drive of the Kootenay and there are numerous small streams in the area.

Trip Duration
We suggest a one- to two-day trip on the Kootenay – an easy addition to a multi-day trip to S.E. British Columbia.

We have several lodging options in the Fernie area, including our own Tight Lines Lodge.

Special Equipment
For fishing streamers we recommend a 9-foot, 7- or 8-weight rod and a 200- to 300-grain, 30-foot sink tip line. For dry-fly fishing we suggest a 9-foot, 5- or 6-weight rod and a weight-forward floating line.

Contact us for details

Salmon Fly
Golden Stone Fly
Yellow & Lime Sally
Various Caddis
October Caddis
Pale Morning Dun
Western Green Drake
Red Quill
Blue Winged Olives

* Hatches may very depending on elevation and watershed *