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  • Marc Fryt

Fishing Report, Eastern Washington Lakes, April 17th 2023

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

(Note: This fishing report is for lakes that are within a 45 minute drive of Spokane)

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Sagebrush Buttercups blossoming

Sitting in the boat we could see the next line of snow squalls bumping over the mountains on its way to us. There's not much to do when the wind and snow (or rain) hits, just anchor in, leave the lines in the water, and wait it out. After ten minutes, everything calms right back down, you drop the hood off your head, pick up the rod and get back to fishing. There was plenty of that this past week.

This warm then chilly, flip flopping weather can make things sluggish at times. But, being out on the lake you can feel the energy from everything, and every creature, that's already out feeding and breeding. Turkeys and pheasants are out gobbling and cackling, we have the first blooms of Douglas' grass widows and sagebrush buttercups, and the larger trout are still cruising near the lake shores. Even the ospreys have returned and are now hunting the waters with us. Lots of noise, plenty of action, and just an all-around fun time to be amongst it all.


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From left to right- chironomid larva (aka blood worm), scud, chironomid pupa, and another chironomid larva. Mixed in amongst them are daphnia and other zooplankton.

We spent the previous week checking in on some of the lakes to the north of the city and also fishing the lakes to the south. For the most part, the water surface temps on the lakes have been about the same, low 50s on the surface, upper 40s down deeper (15-20ft). Not much in the way of bug activity besides a couple isolated chironomid hatches (though they still were a diminutive size, 18s and 20s). Throat pump samples included mostly zooplankton (like daphnia), some chironomid larva and pupae, a couple scuds, and one large leech.

Larger trout were still spotted in the shallows doing their false spawn, and others were cruising looking for a meal amongst what weedy growth there is. Both mornings and evenings fished about the same, and it really came down to covering water and targeting different structures on the lakes.

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On the right, two chironomid larva and a scud. Daphnia and other zooplankton dispersed throughout the container as well.

Most successful fly fishing action was targeting the shallows, drop-offs, and weedy shoals with attractor and leech patterns. I tied up some new leech patterns using turkey marabou I plucked off a tom I shot last spring and its been doing a fine job out on the water. Harvesting a trout or two with the fly and then hearing a gobble in the distance is a rewarding experience to say the least.


For this week and into Saturday, the weather looks like it might be a bit more stable, chilly, but stable. By Saturday it could warm up a touch and then Sunday is calling for some other small front to move back through. However, with the weather about the same, continue to focus your efforts on shallow areas, drop-offs, weedy shoals, and points. Successful anglers were those that covered those zones and worked around the lake using attractors (blobs, boobies, FABs, eggs) and leech patterns (woolly buggers, balanced leeches, feather buggers, etc.). More of our local lakes also open up to fishing this upcoming Saturday (April 22nd) so check the regulations to see which ones those are.

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Since a lot of the action has been sight fishing, a big tip I have is understanding refraction when spotting a trout and making a cast. Often, when we see a fish sitting in the water it will appear further away and shallower than where it actually is. This is due to light changing direction (being refracted) when it moves from the air into water. The closer you are to the surface of the water (i.e. standing on a boat vs sitting in a float tube) causes the effect to be more acute.

What this means for the fly fisher is that when we see a fish and make a cast our fly often lands to close to the fish (or even past it). At times, even though we think we are casting just shy of the fish, our fly line or leader actually lands right on top of it (and that's called lining a fish). The result is usually a spooked fish. See the illustration below for a visual on this:

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So what can you do to improve your sight fishing in this situation? Well, when using a streamer or other sub-surface fly:

  1. Identify the head and tail of the fish and aim to land your fly in front of the fish's head.

  2. Knowing that the fish appears further away and shallower, shorten your cast.

  3. In calm, clear water a fish should be able to see your fly if it's within ten feet or so. If you land the fly within this wide circle, give it a quick strip to come tight to the fly and to animate it which will help the fish locate it.

Hope that helps! And if you are interested in improving your sight fishing and casting skills contact us to schedule an instructional lesson or guided trip.

Conservation and Community Events-

Spokane River Forum Conference, April 26-27:

The Spokane River Forum is having their two day conference April 26-27, which is a great event to learn more information about conservation efforts on the Spokane. Some of the topics will include:

  • Water Quality: Stormwater, PCBs, PFAs, Non-Point Source Pollution

  • Water Quantity: Infrastructure Development, Planning, Conservation

  • Habitat: Riparian Restoration, Aerial Imagery Monitoring

  • Fisheries: Preparing Our Waters for Salmon, Redband Recovery, Invasive Species, Recreation

  • Stewardship: Cleanup, Restoration, Digital Media Messaging, Spokane River Water Trail

The conference will be a fantastic way for you to learn more about the river, become engaged in conservation/stewardship events, and connect with others on protecting and restoring the river and its fishery. More info and registration here:

Trout Unlimited/Spokane Women on the Fly:

Trout Unlimited/Spokane Women on the Fly also have a lot of upcoming events (everyone is welcome to attend these events):

Earth Day River Clean Up! Saturday, April 22nd, 10:00am-1:00pm:

The Spokane Riverkeeper and Spokane River Forum will be hosting their first and biggest public river cleanup of the year on Earth Day 2023. Last year volunteers removed 4,900 pounds of litter from Hangman Creek and the Spokane River. They will provide gloves and bags, you bring solid walking shoes. Sign up here:


For more information on our guided fly fishing trips and instructional fly fishing lessons here in Spokane, check out Our Services (including Spokane River fly fishing trips, and Eastern Washington lake fishing trips). Feel free to Contact Us to book a trip or to inquire more information.

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