Fishing Report, Spokane River, June 30th 2022
And just like that, we're on the river.
It felt like we would easily roll into July without having a real chance to fish the Spokane River. All of the rain in May and June, and the strong snowpack, kept river levels high. But, this week Avista started to turn the dial down on the Spokane, and flows have dropped to right around their historical median which is about 5,000cfs.
I will always take a wet, cold spring but I was chomping to get back on the Spokane River to float and cast flies to our wild and native redband trout. Today, Ethan and I were able to do a guide's trip down the Spokane to wake up a couple of the trout, and to check out our favorite runs to see their current conditions.
Getting the oars into the water, feeling the pull of the water against the raft, we started our float down the river as a few caddis fluttered just above the current. We casted flies and sunk them close to the river bottom amongst boulders and sunken logs. The trout were a bit sluggish, probably due to the rapid change in river conditions, yet we managed to pull a few of them to net.
We rolled through the rapids past Hangman Creek, it's waters were finally running clear after that brown mess that spilled out due to erosion along its banks. Further downstream, we focused on the heads of runs while eyeing any calmer channel of water, and soon we hooked into a handful of trout that pulled line from our hands and cranked on to the reel.
The start of the summer season is always met with a variety of expectations. After several winter months of mulling over new fly patterns at the vice, thinking about different ways to rig gear, researching other tactics to try out, you finally get to employ them out on the river. Our guide's trip today was spent doing just that, and it was exciting putting some of our theories to test and seeing them pay off. That is one of the reasons why I keep on with fly fishing, the opportunities for creativity are truly endless and it's a lifelong pursuit of puzzle solving.
With the start of the season, as the river levels continue to slowly drop throughout the weeks the fishing will only get better. For those of you, like me, who are ready to head out to the Spokane River (and save some gas by not having to drive all the way into the Idaho Panhandle), the fishing this weekend should be decent. The trout will have become more accustomed to the lower river levels and will hop right back into their feeding routines.
Water temps throughout the river (from below Spokane Falls to the water treatment plant) are hovering right around 59F, which is in that sweet spot to keeping a trout's metabolism going (55-65F is what we usually are looking for). The redband trout have definitely started to move into the swifter, more turbulent sections of river to feed, so focus on those areas.
If you are going to try and fly fish from the banks, then my recommendation is look for any areas where channels of water break away from the main river. The river is still high enough that alternate side channels are still flowing pretty good and provide for better wading access. As always, be super careful with wading or bank fishing the river, the currents are still strong and the water levels high in places.
There were a few rises to caddis, but they were mainly smaller trout in the side eddies and too few and far between to really focus on dry fly fishing. We did have a couple of trout take a streamer that was played right along the banks, so that is an option as well. Besides that, work on your nymphing game, either under an indicator or tightline nymphing. We mainly used some drop shot tactics, and that seemed to pay off nicely.
(Read: How to Set Up a Drop Shot Rig)
As you begin to head back out to the river, it is also a good time to begin brushing up on certain skills like reading pocket water. It won't be too long before the levels drop low enough so you can really hit those pocket water sections with dry flies and dry-droppers. That is the summer season that truly gets me jazzed up! Be sure to check out some of our instructional articles about fishing pocket water: Fly Fishing Pocket Water Part I, Part II, and Part III.
This summer has launched off with a wacky start, between rising gas prices and rising water levels it was pleasant to final coast down our local river and hook into a handful of trout. Take advantage of this time, the trout haven't seen a fly for several months now and won't be overly picky. Enjoy the start of our summer season, even if that means taking the rod out of the car at the end of a work day to fly fish the river for an hour after work. The river is right here, in our backyard, and it's ready.
For conservation news, Senator Murray and Governor Inslee released their draft report on restoring Snake River Salmon. From the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition:
This document makes clear that the services provided by the lower Snake River dams – energy, irrigation, and barge transportation - can be fully, feasibly, and affordably replaced with reliable, cost-effective alternatives.
What you can do-
There is a public comment period between now and July 11th where you can submit support for removal of the dams and restoration of the lower Snake River. Please consider submitting your comments as this is a historical opportunity to enact the largest salmon recovery in history. For more information and to submit your comment, please visit Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition.
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.