Fishing Report, Spokane River, August 19th 2022
It was a brief, but revengeful moment. At least that's how I like to think about it.
Let me explain. Things came full circle this week for me, in one of those rare moments where you can't help but try to connect the dots in what may be nothing more than just coincidence. That osprey, the osprey whose territory I encroached on a couple weeks ago (that story is in this fishing report), finally got its revenge on me.
It started out as a pretty successful morning. The sky was mostly cloudy obscuring that merciless summer sun, the angler I was guiding had already boated a few trout, and we were enjoying some refreshing cold-brew coffee (big thanks to the angler for bringing that!). My kind of morning.
We drifted around some rapids, through a bend in the river, and to the spot where a couple weeks back I trespassed on an osprey's domain. It wasn't too thrilled with me then, and as we approached its tree it sat there squawking towards us, apparently not too thrilled with me now. I thought the bird and I had settled our differences, not so.
Feathering the oars, I crept the raft to the far side of the river where the angler made a cast and drifted the flies in a stretch of tempting water. The dry fly plunged down, the rod swept high, and the fly line went tight. A solid trout was on the other end, and everything just seemed to spiral out of control after that.
The angler kept tight to the trout as it whipped around in the water, its metallic olive, silver, and red sides flashing beneath the surface. It was rolling and fighting, doing those head shakes that make you hold your breath hoping the fly doesn't fling free from its mouth.
In a flash, just a few yards off the bow of the boat, the osprey swept above us and hovered a few feet right over the trout, every talon at the ready.
"Holy s*%t" was all I could say, not knowing what a guide should do in such a situation.
"No! No!" the angler yelled at the osprey. That bird still whirling its wings and targeting our trout.
The angler tried to pull the trout somewhere else, anywhere else, and the osprey maneuvered to relocate the fish. In the mix of things the trout made a brilliant, daring, jump out of the water snapping the tippet clean and made its escape.
The osprey chirped, squawked, and flapped its way back to the tree. We were left floating in the slack bankside water just collecting ourselves from that moment. Nothing more to do than just laugh.
Was it the same osprey? No way to know for sure. Same spot, same tree...same bird? In my head that story rounds out nicely and I'll replay it that way. I like to think it was the same osprey, that it knew me, that it had its motives, and it got back at me. Nicely played. But, can we call it even now?
This week the river levels have dropped back down below 1000cfs after riding up around 1500cfs at the start of the week. The pocket water is in great shape, and the fishing has been consistently good. Most trout are still positioned around that turbulent, bubbly water so focus your efforts on pocket water, riffles, and runs.
We had a decent number of rises to large terrestrial patterns (beetles and hoppers), as well as to oversized caddis dry flies. The water is clear and skinny so they will be looking up so aim for those soft pockets amongst the white or swift water to drift your fly.
Of course, dry-droppers are the main tactic. Dark bodied weighted nymphs worked nicely this week. If you are not getting hits on the dropper, try lengthening the distance between the dry and dropper (20, 24, 28 inches). You can also try heavier nymphs and smaller diameter tippet leading to the dropper (4 or 5x) to help it get to depth quicker. Also, when fishing more turbulent areas, make constant small mends to your dry fly to slow the pace of it down which will allow the nymph to sink a touch deeper.
When fly fishing pocket water, it also pays to not only think about mending the fly line but also mending the leader. Many times, anglers will mend the fly line upstream of the dry-dropper and think that everything is now drifting nicely. However, that mend might not have brought the leader upstream of the dry and so it remains bowed and dragging downstream of the flies. In this case, the flies are still getting pulled unnaturally, not by the fly line but by the leader.
It is hard to see the leader in the water at times, so watch your dry fly. If you make a mend and it still looks like the dry fly is getting tugged around by something, then it could be the leader. Make a more deliberate mend to get that leader upstream of the flies.
These small adjustments make all the difference in pocket water, runs, and riffles.
Conservation and Other News
The 2022 International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4) is coming to Spokane on August 25th over at the Magic Lantern Theater (25 W Main Ave. 99201 Spokane, WA) from 7:00-9:00PM. It will be hosted by the Spokane Riverkeepers and all proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Riverkeepers and their efforts to protect our Spokane River fishery. There is a fantastic line-up of fly fishing films that will get you jazzed up to go out and cast a line, and it is for a great cause to support our local watershed. Fun for the family, so please consider going, tickets can be bought at the IF4 website.
Again, there is still a date available to take part in a crayfish study on the Spokane River. This is a really fun and informational event where you will help collect crayfish which will be sent to the University of Idaho to monitor mercury levels in the river. It's a great stewardship activity and kids also have a blast with it so bring the family. Sign up for that is over at the Spokane Riverkeepers, and the last available date is 27th.
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 pages 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.