Fishing Report, Spokane River, August 13th 2021
Updated: Mar 22, 2022
I hope that everyone that was able to get outside last weekend did so, this upcoming weekend looks like another smoky and sweltering few days. The refreshing temperatures and foggy mornings earlier in the week were so pleasant while they lasted. Being out on the river under a clearer sky of cool blues and grays was an unfamiliar nicety after weeks of smoke and haze.
Going into this weekend, it's best to keep your fishing to the early morning hours, which is commonplace for this summer. The water level continues to trickle lower and lower, but we are lucky to have a river that is recharged by an expansive underground aquifer which helps to stabilize water temperatures. However, limit your fly fishing to the morning hours and being done by about noon, not just for the fish's sake but for your's as well.
The "cooler" weather that looks to roll in on Monday will definitely help...I mean anything helps at this point. As these minor cold fronts move in, take advantage of the cloudy weather if you are able to get onto the river. Anytime the skies have filled with clouds this summer the trout have been more active throughout the day.
Continue to focus on the more turbulent sections of the river: runs, riffles, pocket water. Euro nymphing with a heavy jig-head streamer (something like this Tungsten Jig Bugger) right at the heads of runs can payoff nicely. You can also try working a light streamer through pocket water and riffles, just keep contact with the fly. Trout in these zones will strike fast, so don't play the fly line fast and loose. Strip the streamer in front of large sunken boulders that are near a good run or amongst deeper pocket water.
Dry-droppers also continue to reward anglers. This technique can be used in a variety of river sections: riffles, pocket water, runs, and the tailouts of pools or long glides. If you are not too familiar with dry-dropper fishing, or need to improve that skill, check out two of our instructional articles:
Precise placement of the dry-dropper is crucial when fishing the seams around boulders and along a run. Manage the slack in the line and, better yet, high stick the fly rod to keep much of the fly line off the surface of the water.
Earlier in the week, I set out to capitalize on the cool weather and fish the river hard, spending the entire day wading, tightline nymphing, and prospecting for trout. While on the river, I came across an alluring run that typically pays out in decent trout. Like all runs along the Spokane, the river bottom here is textured in boulders, stones, and pebbles that create intricate seams that make it a challenge to achieve optimal drifts for the nymphs. In spots like this, you have to work every nook and cranny, scanning for the most indistinct seams amongst broiling, churning water.
Watching my sighter move above the surface, I spent time tying on heavier or lighter flies, adjusting split shot, and dialing in the drift. I was able to cull a couple trout out of the run, but nothing over ten inches. I was expecting more from the run, but eventually I progressed methodically through the head of it and had to move on.
Further up river, there was a minor run that had depth and large, rocky structure to it, so I waded to it. After fishing the near side of the run, I waded slowly deeper until the water was up around my stomach. I was just wet wading and the current was refreshing but began to make me shiver.
It is an incredibly rare thing for a trout to me into my backing, but that's exactly what happened next. As I tightlined the nymphs alongside a large sunken boulder, the sighter twitched, I set the hook, and everything came to a solid stop. In a flash, the trout surged downstream as my click and pawl reel zinged loudly in response. I held the rod high as I watched the fly line zip through the guides followed in hot pursuit by the backing.
Barely clinging to the fish, desperation kicked in. Anyone who has waded in the Spokane knows how utterly slick the stones are, and trying to get anywhere quickly is futile. But, there I was, looking like a basket case slipping and stumbling through the water yelling incoherent curse words as I attempted to manage the chaos.
Watching the backing grow thinner on my small click and pawl reel, my heart raced ever higher. Eventually, the trout effortlessly dashed into a boulder studded run downstream and promptly wrapped the line around a rock that dispatched the fly. I was left looking disheveled with piles of line floating in the current.
I sat down on a boulder and began going through the five stages of grief after losing a large trout. My hands were still shaking as I replayed the event in my head, picking apart what I could have done differently. Thinking about its size and strength, that fish now sits on my mental roster of notable lost trout.
The Spokane will do that to you, hit you clear out of the blue skies with a lunker that throws a haymaker of a punch. When that happens, it leaves you wanting more. That trout made it a great day to be on the Spokane.
Lastly, some of our guides went out over the weekend to help out the Spokane Riverkeepers with collecting crawfish. These collected crawfish will go towards a study that will test the levels of mercury in the Spokane River, along with other pollutants like PCBs. It is always an enjoyable time spent with the Spokane Riverkeepers, you can learn a lot from their knowledgable team members and other volunteers. Be sure to check out their website for upcoming volunteer opportunities and clean up events: Spokane Riverkeeper
As always, if you are interested in booking a guided fly fishing trip with us Contact Us, or check out our Spokane River Guided Trips page for more information. We also offer Fly Fishing Instructional Lessons here in Spokane if you are interested in spending just a couple hours out on the water improving your fly fishing skills.