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  • Ethan Crawford

Fishing Report, Eastern Washington Lakes, March 17th 2023

The Spokane river closed this week on Wednesday. So where will to fly fish now? Well, stillwater fly fishing is heating up. Many lakes are still fully capped with ice and are only starting to thaw. However, with temperatures heating up, ice off will be coming very soon. A lot of lowland lakes opened March 1st, so be sure to check state regulations on which ones are open. A very useful (and free) app to download on to your phone to help with finding out which bodies of water are open is Fish Washington (it's managed by WDFW and they did a stellar job with creating/updating it).

This week, I went out onto some winter-only lakes and had good success. Taking out my kayak I hit up Hog Canyon lake which is only open for another week. Using boobie flies in bright pink and orange, and also an array of balanced flies under a strike indicator help me to hook into some trout. The fish were in the top water column and hugging the shore. On the fish finder there were not many fish further than five feet below the surface.

fishing report eastern washington lakes

This is a great time of year for the lakes. During the ice over season, the aquatic plants receive no sunlight and the lake reduces in oxygen due to the plants decomposing. Now, with lots of light and no ice to block it, the lakes are coming alive. Trout are becoming more active and are very hungry.

Using larger flies this time of year can be productive. Fish right now are mainly eating what they can as bug activity is not yet in full swing. Scuds, leeches, sculpins are just a few of the food options that winter over. Presenting patterns that are full of movement will provide the most success.

With brighter days you can also try using flashy flies. When tying balanced leeches my favorite flashy dubbing is Semi-Seal (by The Fly Project) in Black Magic, Crawdad, or Deep Leech, and you can pick these colors up over at the North 40 Fly Shop (9646 U.S. Rte 2, Spokane, WA 99224). Try these balanced leeches under strike indicators and make sure not to go too deep. Trout tend to look up, so keep the flies three to five feet below the surface.

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When targeting trout this time of year, look for deep drop offs close to shore that plateau, as well as rocky outcrops and weedy shallow bays. These areas will warm up during the day quickly which means that trout and their food will be out and about. Additionally, it is great time of year to hit the lakes from shore. Trout will be holding in shallower warmer waters which provide great fly fishing access to the bank angler.

Lastly, for those of you who love the taste of trout, early spring is when you can harvest up some delicious meals. The trout will have good, firm meat from being in the cold water all winter. For the tastiest trout, look for lakes with scuds, or shallow weedy lakes as trout that eat plenty of crustaceans and bugs have more flavorful meat.

One of my favorite recipes is called Trout Bites:

fishing report spokane

- One cup milk

- One cup cornmeal

- One tablespoon of cajun seasoning

- A few shakes of black pepper

- A sprinkle of garlic powder

Put 3/4 inch of oil into a skillet and bring it to 350 degrees (or drop in a small piece of flour and it should sizzle). Dunk one inch cubes of fillet trout into the milk, then coat them the corn meal powder mixed with the seasonings. Place coated trout bites in the oil and cook for five to seven minutes each side. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel. Enjoy!


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):

Spokane Riverkeeper:

Join the Spokane Riverkeeper for a panel discussion on the Rights of Nature:

Join us for a panel discussion and learn more about Rights of Nature and why this legal framework, and cultural way of framing the world is the next horizon of protecting the natural places we care about. FREE and open to the public. 6:30-8:00 PM, March 21 at the Moot Court Room, GU Law School.


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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