We have fished some terrific places on our most recent fly fishing road trip. These have included the Owyhee River, South for of the Snake River, Teton River, Ennis Lake, and the Madison River and Quake Lake. The last stops on our trip were fly fishing the Clark Fork and Kootenai Rivers.

After we left the Madison River Valley, we headed to Sandpoint, ID. 

A small detour took us through Twin Bridges, MT and a quick stop at Winston Rod Company. My favorite fly rod is a Winston, a 9′ 5 weight BIIX. I have other Winston rods as well, but it’s the one that gets pulled out day after day.

Visiting Winston Rod Company in Twin Bridges MT | www.johnkreft.com

The Clark Fork confluence with the St Regis River has been good to us in the past and we decided to try it at sunrise. It’s right on the way and only about a mile from I-90.

Clark Fork and St Regis Confluence | www.johnkreft.com

You might remember the great fishing we had on the first trip back in 2017 (read about it HERE). This year was different… lower water levels and fewer fish on the morning we fished. I caught a couple smaller ones. 

They are still beautiful.

Clark Fork Rainbow | www.johnkreft.com

This cuttbow was caught with a Royal Wulff.

Cutbow with Royal Wulff | www.johnkreft.com

We drove farther downstream and ended up at a campground for the night. We fished the edges of a nice run and caught a few small fish. I was surprised we didn’t hook up on any fish larger than 12 inches. I’m sure they are there, but the two days we planned to fish the Clark Fork didn’t really pan out for us.

After attending a family wedding, we drove east out of Newport, WA to Libby, MT for a few days fly fishing the Kootenai River. 

The Kootenai originates in Canada, flows into Montana and Idaho before returning to Canada and entering the Columbia River at Castlegar, BC. I was confused by the spelling. I found the river is called “Kootenai” in the US and “Kootenay” in Canada.

The Kootenai is a big river (it was running 9,000 cfs) and like most rivers that size, it probably is best fished from a boat. A friend of ours had arranged for us to float the river with his good friend who lives around Sandpoint, ID. We had a couple of days to burn before our planned drift.

I had heard the tailwater section below Libby Dam was good fishing, so we headed all the way to the dam to check it out.

Being our first time on the river, we stopped at Dave Blackburn’s Kootenai Angler for current information about fishing and bank access. This is one of the access points they suggested.

Kootenai River Libby MT | www.johnkreft.com

It looked really fishy and we did catch a few fish here, mostly in the 9 inch range. I did manage to land a big 11 incher!

Koonenai River Rainbow below Libby Dam | www.johnkreft.com

One evening, we found larger fish rising below the dam. I was hopeful, but never hooked up on any of these fish. People told us of big fish in this section…Rainbow and Bull Trout.

Koonenai River at Libby Dam | www.johnkreft.com

We found some great campgrounds just below Libby Dam – Blackwell Flats, Alexander, and Duun Creek. I highly recommend any of these if you happen to be in the area. And they are FREE!

After a couple days fishing below Libby Dam, we met up with our new friend Dave to fish the Kootenai River in Idaho.

Our New Friend Dave | www.johnkreft.com

I think we floated 10 or 11 miles of river over nine hours.

The boat ramp was in Montana, but we were there to fish the Idaho water. Here is the Idaho – Montana border…the bridge marks the border.

Koonenai River at Idaho - Montana Border | www.johnkreft.com

Much of the time we cast to the bank as Dave worked the oars.

Fishing Edges of Kootenai River | www.johnkreft.com

Occasionally, we anchored on a gravel bar and tried to find fish in drop-offs.

Fishing Gravel Bar Dropoffs | www.johnkreft.com
Kootenai River in Idaho | www.johnkreft.com

We caught several fish along the way, but Dave was disappointed we didn’t hook bigger fish.

Kootenai River Rainbow | www.johnkreft.com

He said they regularly hook and land fish in the 16 – 20 inch range. We moved larger fish along the shore, but on this day they didn’t cooperate.

Casting from Driftboat on Kootenai River | www.johnkreft.com

We were grateful to Dave for his generosity rowing us down the Kootenai River!

We had a good time and might be back someday.

The Clark Fork and Kootenai were the last rivers we fished on our fly fishing road trip.

Oh…it’s good to be home.

Metolius Redside | www.johnkreft.com

Enjoy…go fish!

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  1. Hi John,.
    I would love to float the Kootenna next fall again with you and your wife. The fishing seemed to get better at the end of September an the beginning of October. Did well on October caddis.
    I wish you both a very happy New Year.


    1. Hi Dave

      Good to hear from you and thanks for leaving a Comment. We’ll see if that can happen. We are still planning our fly fishing trips.


  2. Hi John,
    During our “corporate America days” I lived in Sandpoint, ID where I was District Manager for the local phone company. I spend many hours on those two rivers and recognized every location you photographed. Your blog was a welcome venture for me down memory lane. Take care & …
    Tight Lines – Al Beatty

    1. Al

      Thanks for your comment. I’m so happy to hear this post struck a positive chord on your “venture for me down memory lane”. The feeling you had is precisely one of the reasons I continue to write weekly blogs.


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