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  • Marc Fryt

Fishing Report, Spokane River, June 20th 2024

fly fishing spokane

Clear water, cloudless, sun overhead. Under these conditions the fishing is typically not the best. And that's usually the case.

Hiking down to the river, it's very late in the morning, I'm out getting the dog some exercise and my plan is to fish one particular boulder. It's a boulder I pass by while rowing the raft, and every now and then a trout is plucked from that spot. But I want to have a better look, to see just how the trout are holding on the upriver-side of the boulder.

The river flows have been dropping (around 3500cfs now) and this particular boulder is exposed more above the water. It sits on the inside bend of the river in heavy, fast current. Pushing back against the river, the boulder forms a pillow of softer current, a spot for trout to hover, glide, and feed on drifting insects passing in front of the it. It's a good place for a trout, and there are many boulders like this one up and down the Spokane River.

There's a lot of water flowing around the boulder and a typical dry fly or lightly weighted nymph just rockets past any trout that might be swimming right in front of the boulder. Catching trout in spots like this requires a heavy nymph along with thin tippet (4x or thinner) that minimizes the amount of drag between the monofilament and the current. The nymph is nothing fancy; slim, bullet-like body, no squiggly legs, little to no's a nymph that punches through the heavy current, gets closer to the bottom, and stays down there drifting along.

fly fishing spokane
From Top Left to Bottom Right: Stonefly, leech, caddis, and more caddis

Standing on the bank, balancing my foot atop a rock, I lean forward trying to look and see through the fast water for any trout in front of the boulder. The water is clear and deep, the colorful gravel and rocks on the bottom all lit up by the sunlight. The river's current heaves into the boulder, then breaks and crashes down either side in a million tiny bubbles. A swell of calmer water pulses into the boulder and a brief window opens up offering a glimpse through the water.

The boulder has a small ledge near the bottom which creates a shadowy pocket. And there's a small log wedged into the base of the boulder providing ample opportunity to snag and lose a fly. And maybe that's the tail fin of trout? Tucked up close to the shadow?

The river's current rushes in and quickly closes the window.

Maybe there's a trout. If it's there, it's several feet beneath the current happily feeding on drifting bugs. A single weighted nymph is all that's needed. An indicator is useless here, it will only grab the current and keep the nymph from getting deep. High sticking a fly rod is the way to go, and a longer fly rod would be great, but I didn't want to hike down to the river with a rod and reel. So, I packed the Tenkara rod and now pull it out of the backpack, already rigged up and ready to go. It's twelve feet, plenty of length to keep my feet dry, reach out, tuck the nymph into the current and then drift it down to the boulder.

A dark colored nymph with a gold tungsten bead is tied to the end of the tippet. I make a quick roll cast sending it into the water, the fly plummets down and the line immediately goes tight. I set the hook. Snag.

Somewhere down in the water the nymph is wedged into the rocks on the bottom. I work my way up the riverbank, above the snag, and pull the line against the current which frees the nymph.

I make another cast and keep the rod angle slightly higher. The nymph drifts and ticks against the rocks, then continues traveling towards the boulder. I track the line entering the water and estimate where the nymph is and then see it near the bottom of the river glinting in the clear, bright water.

Once the nymph gets close to the boulder I stop the rod which tightens the line arching the nymph up through the water slowly, just a couple feet from the front of the boulder. The nymph drifts upward, suspended in the almost invisible water.

fly fishing spokane

A flash of white, and the line goes tight, the rod bends over and the trout is on the hook. If the trout pushes towards the middle of the river the fight is lost. So I curve the rod and angle it upriver and towards the bank, forcing the trout to play into the shallower water. It twists and makes short jabs back towards the middle of the river but the hook is firmly planted and the rod is bent deep which cushions the thin tippet from snapping.

It's a good fish, magenta on its cheeks and sides. Another, smaller trout, darts up to see what is going on and then promptly circles and disappears back into the river.

The trout twists and jabs a few more times, but inches closer to the bank with each rest. Soon it's near and I bring the trout in and unpin the fly (barbless hook, keep 'em wet, all that good stuff for the trout).

A quick rest and the trout is ready to go. With a quick tail flip the trout races away.

You can learn a lot by fishing just one boulder.


This weekend the weather is going to be hot and sunny. The caddis (sizes 14s and 16s) have still been hatching in good numbers throughout the morning. Water levels continue to drop which is shaping up the boulders and pocket water. Wading is becoming easier in the lower flows so getting out into the cool water this weekend sounds like a great plan.

Nymphing with indicator rigs, euro rods, of just high sticking, are all working. Heavy tungsten beaded nymphs, sizes 12 to 16; dark to bright colors are a good choice. Tough to beat a Frenchie or any sort of perdigon.

Dry-dropper rigs are another effective option, using a buoyant caddis dry fly and a beaded nymph tied beneath. I usually like two to three feet of tippet between my dry fly and nymph. If you need a refresher on how to rig up a dry-dropper, check out this article I typed up.

Also, if you really want some insights on how to fly fish the Spokane River then be sure to join me on the river this Saturday for a free fly fishing clinic (more details below).


Update on the gate at Downriver Park

In the last fishing report I talked about an issue with a locked gate at Downriver Park. This locked gate prevents the public from using public land to launch/recover rafts. For the full details on the situation, read the previous fishing report.

fly fishing spokane

Spokane Parks and Rec had the gate open but people kept parking cars down at the water. I received an email about a week ago saying that the gate is going to be locked again until they can get signs up that denote where to park, and where not to park. I was told the gate should be back open by the end of this week.

However, Parks and Rec is still offering keys to people/businesses that need access (for a $100 deposit). Now, again, I'm of the opinion that this is public land, and the new park amenities were paid for by taxpayers, so if the gate is closed and locked, then it should be closed and locked to everyone (except emergency responders). Anything else is just the privatization of public lands, especially if keys are only offered and given out to businesses (like ours).

If you would like to use this boat launch then please email Spokane Parks and Rec Assistant Recreation Director, Ryan Griffith ( telling him that anglers want to use this access point. The more anglers that email Parks and Rec about this the more they will work with us to open up public access along the river. And I encourage people to float this section of river from Redband Park to Downriver Park, it's a fantastic half-day float with beautiful scenery and wild fish.

Yes, the problems with people parking down along the river and crowding the boat launch site will always be an issue. It'll be a headache, and will take having talks/discussions with many of the river's users. This just shows that people want to spend time outdoors, in nature, and along the river. And that's a good thing. It also shows that we should open up more boat launches and access up and down the river.

Locking launch sites on public, but still making it accessible to private businesses, is not the answer.


Upcoming Community/Conservation Events

Saturday June 22nd, Free Fly Fishing Clinic starting at 8:00am at the Islands Trailhead

  I’ll be hosting a free fly fishing clinic at the Islands Trailhead. We’ll go over some fly fishing 101 information, gear talks, and insights on how to fly fish the Spokane River. Then we’ll do some casting practice and maybe have time to get a little fishing in right there on the river. I’ll have just a couple fly fishing setups for people to borrow, but please bring your own fly rod if you have one.

I'm planning on just wet wading because it'll be hot, but if you don't like standing in cold water then I'd consider wearing waders.

You’ll also need a fishing license if you plan on fishing with us.  

June 26th, 5:00-7:00pm, River Cleanup Walk and Talk

Join Waterkeeper, Jule Schultz & River Cleanup Lead, Liv Kindl for an educational walk along the Spokane River. Everyone will be cleaning up litter along the way and learning more about Hangman Creek and the Spokane River. Very informational event to learn more about your local waters!

Additional details and sign up here.

June 27th, 5:00-7:00pm, Happy Hour Social

Join Spokane Falls Trout Unlimited, Spokane Women on the Fly, and Spokane Fly Fishers as they kick off the summer with a collaborative happy hour meet-up!

Time: 5-7pm (come and go as you can)

Brick West has great brews and a food kiosk with offerings from Outlaw BBQ.

September 14th, Spokane Scavenger Hunt!!

This is a free and fun event to spend time on the Spokane River with other fly fishers exploring and fishing our local waters. It's a chance to connect with anglers, learn about the Spokane River, challenge your angling skills, find out ways you can volunteer with Trout Unlimited and the Spokane Riverkeeper, and to just enjoy the outdoor opportunities we have right here in the city. Plus, the winner will receive a free guided trip down the Spokane River with me.

All of the info for the scavenger hunt is located here, and you can email me ( to sign up or to ask further questions.

fly fishing spokane river
(this isn't the spot I fished in the story above, btw)



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