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  • Ethan Crawford

Fishing Report, Spokane River, March 5th 2023

Waist deep in freezing water catching as many days fishing as I can before the river closes March 15th. These are the days that bring out the true die-hard fly fishers. Me and my good friend Thomas went out and hit the river Wednesday. We fished later in the day and had a good time. Thomas threw nymphs while I spey fished. I had a few grabs but

nothing stuck, ugh. Marc and I also hit the river a few times and Marc had success with the euro rig. I made the mistake of sticking to the spey rod, which I am still getting the hang of. While fishing the river we saw a blue heron who, like us, was trying to catch fish. The abundance of wildlife so close to the city always amazes me.

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The river has been flowing around the 2800-3200 cfs. Overall, the river has been running clearer. Higher flows do not stop fishing in my opinion, they just mean you need to get deeper, quicker. Further below Hangman Creek, Marc went out Friday below the take out and said the river was relatively clear. The boat take-out below the waste water treatment center is also free of snow, so if you are trying to float that is an option. With so much water moving through it can be hard to locate fish. But they are still there.

fishing report spokane river

In the winter, I look for deeper pools that have shelves or drop offs. The fish will stack up in these pools as food will drop off the under water cliffs. My personal favorite prey item to imitate in the winter is the sculpin. Sculpin provide a meaty treat to the larger fish allowing them to get more nutrients than the average nymph. Another great fly imitation option is the stonefly nymph. Stoneflies in their nymphal stage are easy targets, especially when they are washed off in fast flowing waters. I notice takes increase with stonefly nymphs when the water rises or drops. I believe this to be due to the fact that the nymphs are working hard to find more suitable water conditions.

Personally when imitating food items like sculpins I will do semi-realistic fly patterns that flutter in the current. This usually means 2-4 inch flies with minimal flash (mainly in the body) and colors like olive or brown with a lighter underbelly. Flies that I like for imitating sculpins are slider patterns, baby gongas, and any tapered jigged euro streamer. As for the stones, I like a size 8, 60 degree jigged hook paired with a 3.8-4.6 mm tungsten bead in copper, black and orange. The Fly Project has some awesome jigged Japanese made hooks and that size 8 is a killer.

I think another key success on any river in the winter is grabbing a fish's attention. Therefore, I will throw flies with bright colored heads like orange or chartreuse. Also adding light flash to stone fly patterns in particular can be productive. Buggy, buggy, buggy. Rubber legs and brahma hen collars are going to be your friend.

For me my favorite way to catch the redbands on the Spokane is on the spey or switch rod, the act of methodically swinging for trout is heightened in the winter months. Being able to cover more water is not only efficient but also effective. Spey fishing is for the angler looking to get more out of these colder days rather than just bobber doggin'. Using a ten foot section of T-8 can be good this time of year due to the higher flows and low lying trout. My go to fly in the winter is a black and purple Brett's intruder, which can be found at North Forty's fly shop in Airway Heights.

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If you are euro nymphing, Marc was using a 6 foot tippet section from the sighter to the first fly, and 18 inches to the second fly. As his point fly, he had on a euro jig-head streamer, and then a little dark bodied frenchie in size 14 for the dropper. When euro nymphing this time of year try using an abnormally heavy fly to get your dropper down quicker. Euro streamers are a great option this time of year especially when hangman is over flowing and the water murks up. This time of year I would not fish anything smaller than a size 14, and once again I would pair that with a size 8 or larger stonefly or euro streamer.

fishing report spokane river

Lastly, in the mid-afternoons there were some midges and blue-winged olives hatching (midges size 22-24 and BWOs sizes 16-18). There weren't any notable rises to these bugs, but knowing that in the afternoon these insects are swimming/working their way up through the water column is good information. So, target those afternoon hours with nymphing (again, using dark bodied nymphs) and at the end of a drift allow come tight to the flies and allow them to swing up through the water column which will mimic those midges/BWOs doing the same.


The Spokane River Forum is having their two day conference April 26-27, which is a great event to learn more information about conservation efforts on the Spokane:

Our conference theme is “renewal.” As in giving thanks for being able to again meet face-to-face to:

  • Share information and network around critical topics,

  • Explore policy, technical and public engagement dynamics taking us into the future,

  • Welcome new faces taking on this important work as the baton is handed from one generation to the next, and

  • Update our commitments.

Trout Unlimited/Spokane Women on the Fly also have a lot of upcoming events (everyone is welcome to attend these events):


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.

spokane river fishing report



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