Last week I took a trip to a corner of this fabulous state that is often overlooked. The Kootenai river and its surrounding waters are home to a variety of species and some great fishing. I went primarily for the pike, but the dry fly fishing for native Columbia River Reband Rainbows and Westslope cutthroats was hard to beat.
This was my first Pike trip, and I think I'm hooked. Pike are very aggresive and they will eat just about anything you put in front of them, a quality that I find very attractive in a fish. They can also grow to be really big, although I didn't get into anything you would call trophy sized. An example of this was one fish that I caught. He was sitting in some weeds, only 10 feet or so ahead of me. I dropped my streamer in front of him and just let it sink, then jigged it once or twice. On the first jig, he turned and began following it, and on the second jig he attacked.
I fished my Loop Booster 8'8\" 9wt rod, matched with the Loop Opti Speedrunner Reel and Rio Powerlfy line, for the pike. The Booster is a purpose built pike rod, and it is more than up to the challenge of launching whatever big, flashy, goofy looking pike fly you need to throw. At realistic distances, 20yds and less, it is hard to beat. Being a shorter rod, it is very manuverable on smaller pieces of water, and it doesn't get in the way in the boat either. For a steamer stick, I feel like it is one of the best options out there, especially for the price.
The Kootenai river offered some really unique fishing. Although the average size is not very big (about 10\" for the Rainbows and Cuttys), they are all 100% wild and native fish, so even a smaller fish gives an enjoyable fight. They are also very eager to eat a dry fly; all I needed was a Royal Wulff and a Purple Chubby. There is also a population of Bull Trout in the river, a native species that is rare, aggressive, and frquently exceeds 25\"-30\" in length.
My trip really opened my eyes to the variety of fishing Montana offers. Although it is a long drive (nearly 400 miles, around 7 hours), it is an entirely different ecosytem, with a whole different set of fish to throw a fly at. That type of variety is what makes Montana an angler's paradise.
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