Fishing Report, Spokane River, June 3rd 2022
Updated: Jun 4, 2022
It was a warm day on Thursday and even though the high was only 78F when I stepped out of the truck it felt more like it was the nineties. This cool, wet spring has softened me up a bit. Thinking back to last summer and those triple digit days, that heat dome and blaring sun is almost unfathomable. Yet, this April and May have been refreshing.
Our spring has been weeks of cool temps and plenty of precipitation. It is good for the river, the trout, quail, and the grouse. The snowpack for the Spokane River watershed is also well above average for right now, sitting at about 179%. If regional temperatures don't do anything wacky (like last summer), then this snowpack should set up the Spokane River for good flows throughout the season.
Speaking of flows...the river is still cranking along at 17,000+ cfs. It briefly dipped down to 12,000cfs last week but promptly did an about-face and spiked back up. Lots of high, swift water is moving through the gorge right now.
I was on the river with one of our guides, Ethan Crawford, yesterday trying to connect with a couple of trout by plunking our flies into any slow seam of water we could find. The river was a bit off-color from snowmelt, and scores of trees and islands were engulfed in its current. As we drifted down, a handful of salmonflies still fluttered heavily in the air, it amazes me how they manage to crawl out of the river when it is surging like this.
We primarily fished hefty drop shot rigs with stonefly patterns that helped us to hook into a couple trout, but the fishing was obviously difficult. We lost flies, tippet, and shot as we worked through any decent piece of water. You have to fish hard when conditions are tough, and if you are not losing flies then you are not fishing hard enough.
Earlier in the week, Ethan also had success trout spey fishing from the bank. He was able to pick up a few trout by swinging fish tacos and Brett's intruder fly patterns using a Skagit head and T-20 sink tip. With high water, staying out of the river is definitely the right call to make, it just way too swift to safely wade. Using a trout spey rod during this time is a great way to effectively fish from the bank and deliver your flies to where the trout are. If you have any questions on trout spey fishing, be sure to stop by the North 40 Fly Shop near Airway Heights (9646 West US Hwy 2, Spokane, WA 99224) and Ethan or Cayden can help answer them.
If you are not planning on spey fishing, but still want to fly fish from the bank this weekend, then focus on targeting slower channels of water right against the banks. Pockets of good water can be found on the outside bends of the river tucked in behind trees and rock piles, get your flies into these zones. A drop shot rig under an indicator is a good technique to get your flies into those zones without losing too many fly patterns to snags.
Check out this article on how to set up a drop shot rig.
Stonefly nymph patterns, sizes 4-10 in black are a good place to start as well as dead drifting weighted streamer or crawfish patterns. Be prepared to snag flies, so use your cannon fodder patterns and not the ones you would feel remorseful about losing.
Lastly, the weather going into this weekend looks to be overcast and drizzly with a few potential thunderstorms. The fishing should remain about the same due to the high water, but the storms might help a few more bugs hatch and cause the trout to surface feed in the back eddies. Our season may be a bit delayed but the trout are still there, and they are still feeding. Enjoy the rain and cooler temps while they are here.
*Update on the Spokane River Water Conservation and Drought Response Plan for 2022-
The drought response plan was voted in favor by city council (5-2) but was vetoed by the Mayor. This is a vital plan to ensure the health of the aquifer and Spokane River, and city council has an opportunity on June 6th to vote to uphold the plan (they need a minimum of 5 votes again). Take a moment to read the plan and consider writing to city council (firstname.lastname@example.org) showing your support for it.
Here is a draft email that the Spokane Riverkeepers created as a template if you would like to use it:
Dear City Council,
Thank you for supporting our River by passing Ordinance C36209 on June 23rd. Please stand strong with your community and override the Mayor's veto on water conservation. We love our Spokane River. It brings incredible value to many individuals and communities across our region. It is deeply threatened by declining flows and over-consumption of aquifer water. This aquifer water is essential to the life in our River and we need to uphold the values our community has already affirmed by supporting this water conservation ordinance.
If you are interested in doing some volunteer/stewardship events this summer, check out the Spokane Riverkeepers and Spokane River Forum for volunteer clean-up dates. They still have a couple clean-up dates in June and September, or you can schedule one with a group of friends, family, and/or co-workers. They are two amazing organizations that look after our river.
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 page 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.