The river flows dropped again this week, just enough that it permits me to anchor the boat up in the choicest of places, to take our time in the prime water, and to stack the odds in our favor when we find that rare, consistent, rising redband. This morning we found one.
We savored the cat and mouse moment, because we are given so few of those on the Spokane. It was a decent redband, identifiable by the dark red lateral line on its side every time it barely curved out of the water's surface. It was the only sizeable riser we could see, and it was feeding. Midges, caddis, and some trace BWOs were all drifting through its lane. It wasn't going anywhere, anytime soon.
A quick fly change, chopping off the dry-dropper and tying on a single parachute adams, yielded nothing. Clip that fly off and tie on caddis. Nope, not impressed. What about a smaller parachute? The fly drifts right over the trout and it immediately rises after the fly passes over, there's no clearer rejection than that folks.
I had to get this trout to commit now, not on principle of being a guide, but on my own drive as an angler to see this game all the way to the end. Because that trout kept rising.
After a similar situation from last season, I now keep a fly box tucked away in a boat bag that's lashed to the gear rack on stern of the raft. It's a "break glass in case of emergency" kinda box. Today we would break that glass.
I pulled it from the bag and popped the lid open to a selection of smaller, more imitative patterns. Nestled amongst was a tiny adams, not a parachute, just a simple little adams. I had tied up an array of these during Covid, and there are moments when these old reliables just work. So, why not for this trout?
Splice in some smaller diameter tippet to the leader, thread the hook eye, lock it in place, and wait for another rise to confirm the trout's location.
Cast, mend, set!
I loved seeing that fly rod bent over.
It is hot out, but if you can resist hitting the snooze button and make the short drive out to the river, there's good fly fishing to be had. The water levels have come down even more, but the water temps are still hanging out around 59/60F in the early hours. This low water also has the trout looking skyward and it's a gem to catch our native redbands on a dry.
The focus should still be on the pocket water, riffles, runs, and any water in the immediate vicinity of those places. Those water temps have the trout's metabolism up and kicking, so they are looking for a meal and most of their aquatic food is located around the more turbulent parts of the river (aquatic insects are more concentrated in areas that are infused with higher oxygen content).
I wouldn't go down to the river though with the sole intention of finding that one rising trout, you'll most likely end the day feeling let down. Rather, use searching dry fly patterns with a nymph underneath, and if you do come across that surface feeding fish, stop. Observe. Plan each cast. If the fly lands terribly on the water, let it drift by the trout before you pluck it up off the water. And, lastly, change flies only after you know the fly you are using passed over that fish.
If you go out and are getting blanked, then also try a standard nymph rig, or swing wet flies as you work back downstream. A pair of wet flies, one weighted, the other unweighted, drifted methodically through the current and around boulders and rock piles can be very effective. When I use wet flies, I like using a 10ft 5 weight rod as it helps me to add subtle mends and movements to the flies and I can make easy adjustments as the flies gently swing through the current. Pocket water, calmer runs, and riffles are all good places to prospect with wet flies. Below are two articles you should check out:
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.