About time! It looks like the weather is finally going to give us a break, and I couldn't be more ready! Even if cooler weather sticks around for just a few days it will be great to get out on to the water and not be blasted by the heat. This cold front is going to start working its way in tomorrow, we'll have plenty of cloud cover, maybe some rain late Saturday and into Sunday, and cooler temps, all things that can make for more productive fishing.
The river flow is low, just under 900cfs, and when the water is this skinny and clear the trout can be spooked easily and the bite turns off a bit when harsh sun bombards the river. Having cloud cover on Saturday could make fishing not only more enjoyable for us, but it will give the trout a little extra cover/security to continue feeding throughout the day. Water temps have also been in the low 60s, and the grasshoppers are nice and big now (sizes 4-8).
I did some personal fishing this morning and saw a couple of those grasshoppers clicking around the willows, and a couple fell into the river and twitched around as they floated downstream. You could give a larger hopper pattern a try this weekend and see how that works for you. If you're not getting an hits you could also add a slight, very slight twitch to it to mimic the naturals, and of course tie a nymph on underneath for a dry-dropper setup to hedge your bets if the trout aren't impressed with the dry.
Plenty of rock gardens are changing and shaping as the flows drop. New nooks and crannies are giving the trout new spots to station themselves, so work any pocket water methodically by turning over every rock (pun intended). When wading and working rock gardens, my favorite line presentation is a quartering upstream cast. This cast is effective because:
You can stay downstream and out of the trout's line of sight.
You can land the flies and fly line into your targeted seam of current without lining the fish with the leader/fly line.
You don't have to mend the line nearly as aggressive as a cast made perpendicular to your position.
Gathering slack is not as frantic as making a straight upstream cast.
Although the fishing was slow this morning, another tactic that worked for me was euro nymphing the heavier, more turbulent water immediately downstream of the pocket water. I was using some pretty heavy nymphs on thin tippet to get to depth quickly, but it paid off.
I would also suggest wearing waders for this weekend if you are going out earlier in the morning. Water temps are nice and cool and with some overcast and potential sprinkles it could have you shivering. If you are going to be floating the river instead, please be careful. Low water has exposed more urban debris that could puncture a raft or pontoon, especially as you make your way through riffles and the heads of runs. One such spot is the at the start of the run about a half-mile downstream of TJ Meenach where a large metal pipe is sticking out of the water (it's located more on river right as you approach it).
TJ Meenach Bridge has also been shut down the last several days due to the ongoing construction for renovations at Downriver Park. However, they are calling for it to be back open by tomorrow.
Lastly, if you are looking for an added challenge and a way to test your fly fishing skills, try sight fishing a nymph to a largescale sucker. You can spot a lot of these fish at the tailouts of pools and it is tough getting them to take a fly, you really have to get it into their feeding lane and almost bump it down until it's right off their nose. If you get one, tag us on Instagram or Facebook and the first person to do so can get a free Fly Fish Spokane hat. Snags don't count, and we'll hold you to scout's honor that the fish actually took the fly in its mouth.
Other tips I'd add to help you out with this challenge:
Use a bright, colorful nymph, one that you can easily see so you know where it is and when the fish bites it.
Look for tail outs around deeper pools and rocks where you have more of a view into the water.
Indicators (foam, plastic, yarn, etc.) just affect the drift too much, gotta "naked nymph" it, and use thinner tippet to minimize drag.
When you do hook one, it will take you into your backing multiple times. Just kidding, they really just roll over and give up! I wish they fought more like carp!
Why do challenge yourself with this? Great question. Sight fishing with a nymph is one of the hardest techniques in fly fishing and it tests so many of your skills as a fly fisher. Working on and improving this specific technique will pay huge dividends when it comes to presenting flies for carp, bonefish, permit, and yes even trout. Some of my personal best trout were caught sight fishing a small nymph on a naked leader.
It's fun, tough, and there's plenty of largescale suckers in our river for you to pummel.
Oh, and don't forget to carry a bag with you and fill it up with some garbage on your way out or just hand carry some trash out if you forget (like I did this morning). Negative Trace is better than Leave No Trace when urban fly fishing!
Conservation and Community Events
Spokane Riverkeeper Crayfish Study:
The Riverkeeper is starting their crayfish study again for this summer. This is a volunteer event you shouldn't miss. It is a chance to learn some cool things about the river, hang out with the Riverkeeper and biologists, and give back to the community all at the same time. My wife and I love going to one of these events each summer.
The purpose of the study is to collect crayfish that will be sent over to the University of Idaho to monitor the crayfish for mercury, and this is valuable data used to assess health of the river.
There are three dates you can choose to volunteer (or heck all three):
People's Park August 12th 1-3 PM
Upriver Park August 31st, 4-6 PM
Stateline August 17th, 4-6 PM
More information and sign-up can be found here.
Trout Unlimited CX3, September 27 - October 1, 2023:
Trout Unlimited will be hosting their national CX3 event (Community, Coldwater, Conservation) right here in Spokane! This week-long event Cx3 is Trout Unlimited’s biggest family-and-friends focused gathering featuring outdoor adventures, epic excursions, and hands-on activities with family and friends. There will be all sorts of family fishing events, women-led angling trips, kids activities, tours, conservation films, presentations, and Q&A sessions.
There is going to be a lot to see and do, and it is exciting that TU has picked Spokane to host this event, so mark down September 27th to October 1st on your calendar and check out the event's website for more information as well as ticket purchasing options.
Spokane River Forum and Spokane Riverkeeper:
Upcoming public clean-up events on the Spokane River:
August 19 - Location TBD
September 16 - Stateline to Spokane Valley Locations
September 16 - City of Spokane Locations (Lands Council)
More info and registration for these clean-up events can be found on their website here.
Washington Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA):
Every month, the local Washington chapter of BHA meets at the restaurant Hunt in downtown Spokane (225 W Riverside Ave STE C, Spokane, WA 99201) and invites a biologist to provide a presentation and discussion on any number of wildlife, conservation, and/or habitat topics. It's a great time to meet other anglers/hunters, learn something about our local wildlife and how we can be more engaged with looking after angling and hunting opportunities within the state.
The next upcoming event is on August 30th, 2023 at 6:00pm - 8pm, more info 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.