A Giant from the Kootenai River

by | Apr 18, 2020 | giant trout | 4 comments

Kootenai-AnglerIt was classic spring morning here on the banks of the Kootenai River in Libby, Montana.  There was a steady drizzle making it hard to get up from bed.  I managed however because I had a blog to write.  Granny and I are settled in a cozy cabin here at our buddy Dave Blackburn’s Kootenai Angler.


Kootenai-RiverAfter a couple hours of writing and listening to the birds on the covered porch, Granny had a big breakfast going.  It was the all American cholesterol feast that comes in handy for burning later on these wet spring days.  Especially when you plan to fish through it which indeed we did.  At least Dave and I, Granny backed out when the rain raised its level from drizzle to light rain.


Kootenai-RiverDave and I hit the river around 11 AM.  Granny helped Dave with the shuttle while I stayed with the boat.  Completely decked out in my Simms G4’s and full raingear the wet weather goes almost unnoticed.  It’s the sunglasses that get misted often that remind you of the rain.


redband-rainbow-troutBy the time we pushed off it was noon – actually perfect timing on such a day.  Regardless of the late start, we’d still have a full day.  Last night it wasn’t dark up here in the north of Montana until after 9.  Fishing started off excellent with a few high-jumping slick-looking Columbia River Redband Rainbows (Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdnen).


Dave-BlackburnThere’s a pool right below Dave’s place he calls the Camp Pool, and despite looking unreal, it didn’t produce a fish for us yesterday.  Its fast and deep but has a few eddies from enormous boulders.  Before we got there I boldly stated to Dave, “I’m not leaving the Camp Pool without a fish today”.  By the look Dave gave back to me I must have sounded like I wasn’t talking “an ordinary fish” either.


Well, in my heart I wasn’t talking an ordinary fish.  I didn’t mean for my statement to sound so bold but seriously, the pool looks outstanding.  This river has huge bull trout and beastly sized rainbows.  It was time for the pool of this stature to produce!



When we arrived Dave dropped anchor on top of the pool and we both went to work casting.  I got a yank from a small rainbow but didn’t land him.  Soon we were 50 casts in between the two of us and nada.  Dave picked up the anchor and gently rowed me down lower in the pool.


I’d changed my fly to a heavy black and purple over-weighted streamer.  Its more jiglike than a normal fly.  But I knew it would sink through this fast water column better than any other fly in my box.  Its tied by my friend Rich Strolis and he gave me a few at the Marlboro Fly Fishing Show back in January.  On my first cast I went tight with a big fish.


By the weight of the thud I was expecting headshakes and a dive from a bull trout but instead out came a rainbow of significant proportions.  I giggled like a kid when the slab hit the water like a bowling ball.  Then the fight began.


Kootenai-RiverI was fishing my 6-weight Winston Air with my Scientific Anglers Stillwater Intermediate sinking clear line.  This is my favorite rig for streamer fishing for trout.  But this fish was more of a 7-weight fish by the way he took off and jumped again.  But I had another thing going for me, its my straight 0X fluorocarbon.  That’s 14lb test and with the bend absorption from my Winston I can put the heat on fish.  And that’s exactly what I did.


In less than two minutes I hoisted my fish to Dave’s net.  Its head was in but the tail was out because the huge fish didn’t fit so well.  I leaped from the boat and grabbed the tail to keep him from getting away.  This rainbow trout was a true specimen!


I say it all the time on this blog – when you catch a special fish like this – enjoy him.  Keep him in the water and look at every inch.  Look him in the eye then study the details.  This rainbow was stunning through every part of the body.  The pectoral fins were spotted up and down like the big boys in Alaska.


Jeff-Currier-huge-troutAfter a heap of photos, I turned the big fishes nose upstream to release.  He didn’t need any resuscitation.  He blew out of my hands like speeding bullet.  Wow what a fish!


I’ve taken some big rainbows in my day.  Especially after nearly a lifetime on the Henry’s Fork.  Even a number of trips to New Zealand.  But I tell you, this rainbow was huge.  It wasn’t only its length, it was its shear heft.  This fish was fat, wide and thick across the back.  This one makes the trip.  The month.  Perhaps the year!


fish-MontanaWhile Dave and I didn’t catch another chunky fish like this rainbow, we did catch many many more.  These drizzly days are always good and this one didn’t disappoint.  While most the fish were average sized 13-14” redband rainbows we caught another bull trout and even some whitefish.  I haven’t nymphed in a year but Dave wanted me to show him some Vladi style Polish nymphing so I did and it was a blast.


It was a phenomenal day and we didn’t get back to Dave’s till around 8 PM.  We nursed every minute of this one and rightfully so.  Now Granny has some burgers going and I picked up Dave’s banjo with plans to draw him a bull trout on it.  Show me fishing like I saw today and I’m likely to run my Sharpies dry.  Until tomorrow. . . . .


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


  1. Tad


    Congratulations !

    That is an amazing Rainbow trout.


  2. Lane

    Nice fish!

  3. Brent

    Great fish! Congrats!

  4. Jeff

    Thanks guys! Good to get lucky and put in front of a big one now and then!

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!