Fishing Report, Spokane River, July 13th 2023
Early Tuesday morning I went for a long hike and fly fishing outing, the hike was for the dog, the fishing for me. I really wanted to get down to the water to see how it was looking after rainfall provided a nice bump in flows at the start of the week.
It was chilly with overhead clouds blocking the morning sun, and I had made the choice to wear wet wading clothes so I only ventured out just up to my shins while waiting for the overcast to clear out before I went any further. There wasn't a hatch to speak of, but a short cast's length in front of me were lanes of steady, deeper current amongst the surrounding choppy flow of the river. I practiced the drift over in my head and then made a cast.
The trout were there alright, and the ones that I managed to hook into all preferred the nymph over the dry. So, no surprises there. Even with the slight bump in river flows, it was still shallow and twenty inches of tippet below the dry to the nymph was plenty enough to get into the feeding zone (I typically have more tippet than that).
Moving upstream to the next seam, I drifted the flies working from bottom to top, and it was right at the upper edge of the seam, a spot that the water color darkened just a bit more, where a weighty trout took the nymph. In a flash, the trout hit the current on the far side and spun me round as I pivoted in an attempt to keep leverage on the fish, but it bested me and a sharp head shake was enough to pop the fly out from its jaw as it took off down the Spokane.
By now, the sun was starting to trickle through the clouds and, given how hot this summer has already been this year, I hated to admit to myself that it felt good on my back. I was shivering a little but now didn't mind. I went deeper out into the current to lay the flies into one last seam of current I had kept eyes on while fishing every other spot.
Cast close first, then work the flies further out with consecutive drifts, that's what I try to get anglers to do when fishing anchored in my raft. No need to sail it way out there which might potentially spook trout that are right under your nose, and besides there are only so many ideal seams of current on any given stretch of river. Work it, and work it methodically.
It was on drift number five, in the same initial lane, that I finally struck a trout. It zipped out of the water and vibrated the line as it shook vertically in the air, and you know the hook set was solid when they react that way. I pressured the rod over on its side and brought the redband to a cove of slack water behind a boulder where it slid along the surface and into the net. Black spots on its back faded with the dark olive color around its dorsal fin, and after plucking the fly I dipped the brim of the net and the fish knew where it was going from there.
My dog was slowly wading further out with me and was now making it known that our hike needed to resume. Across the river bulldozers were clanking away flattening out mounds of dirt as the busily worked on the Downriver Disc Golf Course. The sound did not bother me because the filtration ponds they are building will do a lot of good for the river, filtering out millions of gallons of stormwater that used to flow into the Spokane.
As I mentioned above, the Spokane received a bump in flows early in the week, but it is steadily receding back down, and it is now just above 1400cfs. I'll take any uptick in the current at this point. Water temps were around 61F down around the Frisbee Golf Park first thing in the morning. Speaking of water temps, the Spokane Riverkeeper just finished installing a new water temperature monitor upstream of People's Park and it was reading 64F this morning. You can access that monitor data here.
That monitor is going to be very useful this summer, and especially for this upcoming weekend as the highs are jumping back into the upper nineties. For this weekend, the primary fishing hours should be in the morning and by the afternoon it is best to hang the flies up and leave the trout be. It's also a good idea to have a thermometer on hand so you can check the specific water temps for wherever you are fishing. It's when temps creep up to 68F and higher that trout can get stressed out.
Nymphs on dry-droppers or indicator rigs worked better this week. The next "hatch" coming up are the grasshoppers, and I've been seeing them and hearing them click about whenever I walk the river banks. They are still what I call baby hoppers, but they are growing fast and in a couple short weeks will be a feast for any trout if they helplessly fall in the current.
Euro nymphing has also been a great tactic whether you are wading or fishing from a boat. From a boat? Yes.
There isn't a lot of literature on the tactic of euro nymphing from a raft or drift boat, so I decided to write up an article on how to euro nymph from a boat based on experience from the last few seasons on the Spokane. It's not just for advanced anglers either, I have taken people completely new to fly fishing and had them try euro nymphing, and the majority wanted to keep fishing that way during the trip, it can be that effective and fun.
If you looking to learn something new in fly fishing, want another skillset in your quiver, or are tired up getting skunked when the other tactics aren't working, give us a call (509-655-0865) or email (Info@FlyFishSpokane.com) to set up a guided trip with us to learn more about euro nymphing from a boat.
We have also been doing a number of instructional fly fishing lessons this summer for people that want to learn how to fly fish but don't necessarily want to spend a full day out in the heat. These are two hour lessons and you can bring up to four people. We provide all the gear, and it is a fantastic way to get you, your family members, and friends into fly fishing!
Lastly, be sure to pack a bag with you as you hit the river this weekend and fill it up with trash on your way out. Let's call it Negative Trace instead of Leave No Trace. It's something we can all do. Also, if you are looking for more opportunities this weekend to be a steward for the Spokane there is a Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Clean Up happening this Saturday over at Upriver Park, starting at 10:00am (more info below).
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):
BHA will be hosting a clean-up on the Spokane River on July 15th, starting at 10:00am. They are partnering up with the Spokane Riverkeeper, and the meet-up location is at Upriver Park: 1667 E Upriver Dr, Spokane, WA 99252. It's a great opportunity to give back to the river. Those with watercraft (kayak, canoe, etc.) are encouraged to bring them in order to access more difficult pieces of litter, and you can also consider bringing waders if you want to wade around and collect garbage along the shoreline. If you don't have waders or a watercraft, no worries because there is plenty of trash for everyone to pick up amongst the trees! More info available here.
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 July 26th, 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.