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  • Marc Fryt

Fishing Report, Spokane River, July 22nd 2022

It is one of those times of year that I really enjoy being on the river, any river. If I could only have one type of river to fly fish for the rest of my life, it would be one brimming full of pocket water. Swirling, rolling, complicated pocket water. A single 100 yard stretch could take me all day to explore and fish through, I just love it.

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For larger rivers like the Spokane, really good pocket water only exists for the briefest of moments each summer and into early fall. Last year we had prolonged pocket water conditions due to the drought we went through, but this year we are just now getting into the prime stuff.

Pocket water also means dry flies, and the Spokane redband trout are notoriously uninterested in dries until now. With low and clear water, the redband are forced to also start looking skyward for a good meal, and with caddis, midges, mayflies, and even some grasshoppers all landing above them it is hard to resist.

Now, this doesn't meant that the redband trout will come easily to a dry. No, they still are habituated into duking it out in the fast, turbulent water vying for the best spots to feed on passing nymphs and tumbling baitfish and crayfish. But, work your way methodically along some pocket water and you'll receive an exciting rise here and there.

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The Spokane River has dipped below 2500cfs (and it had another decent drop overnight and is now around 2000cfs). This exposes a lot of those larger boulders in the river which create beautiful seams, pockets, large eddies, and smoother channels in which the trout will gravitate towards. Water temps have also been in the low to mid 60s which keeps the trout focused on looking for their next meal. Additionally, water clarity is also near its peak which gives the trout an unimpeded glimpse to the surface for any overhead passing food.

This past week, we finally had some fun rises to dries in the morning. Anglers caught some spirited redband on both caddis and hopper patterns. A nice cutthroat trout also came to net after it sipped down a caddis pattern near the bank. There are not very many cutthroat below the Spokane Falls, so it always gets your heart going when you see one tip up and take your dry fly!

If you are going to fly fish this weekend, focus on the evening or early morning hours. Midday the trout mope around under the high and bright sun. Pick out a fun looking piece of pocket water and really take your time exploring and fishing it. One stretch of pocket water should take you a few hours to effectively fish through, and there are plenty of surprises along the way. Also, any trout you do hook into, stop and study the water and think about why that trout was there, doing so will greatly improve your pocket water fishing skills.

(Read: Fly Fishing Pocket Water Part I, Part II, and Part III)

For fly patterns, caddis dries sizes 10-16, Parachute Adams (in gray and in PMD yellow) sizes 12-18, and hoppers sizes 8-12 can all be patterns to start with. Most of the hoppers are just now getting active along the banks (and in my garden). Beyond dries, you can also suspend nymphs below in a dry-dropper rig and patterns that have been working for us have been Frenchies and Blowtorch nymphs. If all else fails, you can work back downstream through the pocket water with a small streamer to see if you can get a chase/eat that way.

If you're needing any flies, be sure to stop by the North 40 Fly Shop over on West Highway 2 near Airway Heights and Caden, Ethan, or one of the other shop employees can set you up with patterns that are working right now. While you're there, ask Ethan Crawford about the Prickly Pear fly pattern. It's been a crazy effective nymph for me this summer while tightline nymphing. Ethan developed the fly and the redband trout approve of his creation.

(Read: 3 Ways to Set Up a Dry-Dropper Rig)


Conservation News:

There is one more public clean up on the Spokane River through the Spokane River Forum on September 17th. If you are interested in doing this clean up, you can register here. Even if you cannot make that clean up, we can all be stewards of the river by bringing a bag with us to the river and picking up some litter. After a couple hours of fishing, there's nothing easier than walking back to your car, bike, or house with that bag in-hand and filling it up along the way.

Some exciting news, the first adult chinook salmon have returned to Hangman Creek, and this has not happened since 1908. The Couer d'Alene Tribe has been working on this large project to reintroduce salmon to the Spokane River. They released 1400 smolt salmon to study the potential of these fish surviving the journey and the return of two adult salmon is a positive confirmation. It is an incredible odyssey these salmon have trekked through: dams, hot water temperatures, commercial fishing, hundreds of river miles, fresh water and marine predators, and even a few anglers along the way. To read more about this news check it out here.


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.

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