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  • Marc Fryt

Fishing Report, Spokane River, June 28th 2024

fly fish spokane

Recently, the Spokane River had another drop in flows as Avista is reduces the amount of water leaving Lake Coeur d’Alene to keep lake levels up. The upper Spokane is flowing at around 1800cfs, and below the Spokane Falls the river is at 2300cfs. While this is concerning because we are not even out of June yet, these lower flows do provide much easier wading opportunities up and down the river.

  With lower flows, much of the pocket water forming around boulders is shaping up nicely and we’ve seen some trout rise to dry flies in these areas. Fly fishing the pocket water and riffles is about as fun as it gets on the Spokane River and you’ll find some hefty trout amongst the bubbly water all summer long. Dry-dropper rigs are the way to go; you should especially try using large dry flies with a lot foam paired with a tungsten bead head nymph drifting underneath. If you are not getting into trout, then try lengthening the tippet between your dry fly and nymph, and/or use a heavier nymph.

  Water temperatures are also creeping up higher. In Idaho, roughly the first 9 miles of the Spokane River is blocked behind the Post Falls Dam. It’s much shallower in these 9 miles, and the flows are minimal during the summer, so the water temperature warm up. This warm water is then released through the Post Falls Dam and into the rest of the Spokane River.

  From the Post Falls Dam to about Sullivan Road, the river loses water to the aquifer; in other words, the river water seeps through the ground. The effect of the dam, the river losing water to the aquifer, and increasing temperatures due to climate change, changed the upper Spokane River from a cold water fishery (trout fishing) to a warm water fishery (smallmouth bass, which are an invasive species). These changes have been playing out for roughly the last several decades.

  The stretch of river from the Post Falls Dam to Sullivan Road is warming up again already this summer, and temperatures are inching up into the 70s (Fahrenheit). When water temperatures increase into the 70s, it becomes lethal to trout, and they start to die due to the lack of dissolved oxygen in the water. The trout in our river, when water temperatures begin to increase, head down river to cooler sections where the aquifer bubbles up and begins to recharge the river with cold water.

  But the smallmouth bass living in the river do great with these hotter water temperatures, so if you are fishing anywhere from the Post Falls dam to the Idaho-Washington state border, you can find some excellent smallmouth bass fishing right now. Streamers and crayfish patterns have been working well, along with poppers thrown in the slack water downstream of any riffles or runs.

  The 3 mile stretch of river from the Idaho-Washington border to Harvard Road, is pretty fishless right now. WDFW has been conducting a smallmouth bass kill-off over the past several years because it is an invasive species that predates on the native redband trout. This might be able to help redband trout populations rebound after their numbers have plummeted over the last decade. Thousands of smallmouth bass have been removed from this section of river.

However, since the water temperatures, in this stretch of river, are now too warm for trout, these 3 miles of river are essentially barren because the trout retreat downriver and most of the bass have been killed. So, if you or a friend or family member head down to that section of river (from the state line to Harvard Road) and don’t catch a single fish, that is because there virtually are no catchable fish there during the summer months.

fly fishing spokane river

  From Sullivan Road, the aquifer begins to recharge the river with cold water, so you can start to find trout again anywhere downriver of the Sullivan Road bridge. My wife and I also had a date night earlier this week where after dinner we walked over to Riverfront Park and spent about an hour hooking into some redband trout. They weren’t anything large, only a few inches, but to catch wild, native redband trout without even getting your feet wet is a blast! Small nymphs and wooly buggers were working, and there are definitely much larger trout that can be found around Riverfront Park. A dad and his two young kids (the youngest was about 5) also walked by, and we handed the Tenkara rod to the kids and they were catching trout within minutes. Tons of fun!

  The Spokane River installed some water temperature gages on the Spokane River, so you can also check the temperature from your computer. One gage is at Harvard Road, a second one is in Peaceful Valley, and a third is along the Little Spokane River. Those gages are available here.

There's also a really informative document that walks you through the details of the aquifer, including a map showing you where the cold water bubbles up from the aquifer helping to keep the water temperatures in the river colder. That document is here, and refer to page 12 for that map.

fishing report spokane river

  For this weekend, the weather looks to be warm but not too hot, and even some cloud cover on Saturday. If there’s any sort of rain over the weekend, that could help the caddis and mayfly hatches going and you could see some steadily rising trout around any deeper pools or glides. If it does start to rain while you’re on the river, don’t pack it up! Carefully walk along the river until you start to notice trout rising to the surface; the larger trout will barely break the surface of the water with their snouts so keep your eyes peeled. A single dry fly is really all you’ll need, and a size 14 or 16 caddis (like the X Caddis fly pattern) or size 16 mayfly (like a simple Parachute Adams). Other than that, keep fishing the pocket water with dry-droppers or just head to Riverfront Park early or late in the day to fish from the bridges or walkways.

And be sure to carry a trash bag with you while on the water and filling it up with some garbage on your way out. It's our river, and we all need to look after it. And a big thank for every bag you fill up!


Update on the gate at Downriver Park

  In a previous fishing report I talked about an issue with a locked gate at Downriver Park. For the full details on the situation, read the this fishing report. The most recent update I have received was from the Parks and Rec department saying the gate is back open, and there are new signs that tell people where they can and cannot park.

If you are at Downriver Park, please don't park anywhere past the gate or anywhere in the trailer turn-around zone. If you do notice someone parked in those places, be courteous and talk with them to explain that those areas need to be open so the fire department and individuals with rafts/trailers can access the water. If there is a car park in those places, and you can't find the owner, then call Parks and Rec to let them know: (509) 994-1424


Upcoming Community/Conservation Events

June 28th and 29th, Indigenous and Environmental Film Festival at the Garland Theater

Celebration of the Expo 50 Tribal Culture Pillar continues with a strong lineup of thought-provoking and inspiring films, from locally-produced favorites like Smoke Signals to timely stories that intersect art & justice in our region and abroad.

Hear from visiting filmmakers and local conservation leaders, and explore ways to engage in making our communities stronger and healthier for everyone. Come experience this unique showcase with themes that flow like water through tribal culture, environmental stewardship, climate change, human rights, and returning salmon! This event isn't just about entertainment—it's about making a difference for generations to come.

Films screening will include Smoke Signals, Bones of Crows, Inhabitants, Covenant of the Salmon People, and more.

Tickets available here

July 21st, River Rendezvous: Byo-Boat Float with the Spokane Riverkeeper

Join the Spokane Riverkeeper July 21st to float the Spokane River! Bring your own boat, either a kayak, tube, raft, or paddleboard (with very short fins!). While you float with the Riverkeeper, you'll learn insightful information about the local ecosystem, river history, and their work on the river along the way.

More info and sign up here.

July 22nd, Community Science Training with Gonzaga, 4:30 to 5:30pm

Join the Spokane Riverkeeper and Gonzaga University Professor Madeleine Matthews to learn about a new project that uses high-frequency real time water quality monitoring to better understand our watershed.

The project will use the Riverkeeper's EnviroDIY Mayfly Data Logger data stations and provide supplemental data through community science samples. That’s where you, as a volunteer scientist, help out! The Riverkeepere will need help once/week collecting data from Hangman Creek at 11th Street Bridge and the Little Spokane River at St. George’s School.

More info and sign up here.

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...or just show up the day of the event!

fly fishing spokane



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