Fishing Report, Spokane River, October 12th 2023
The heads of trout were bending the surface of the water in the pool, not breaking through the film, only bulging it upwards before releasing the tension as they dipped back down, each rise an echo of where a trout had just been. Quiet rises, without a splash or bubble left on top, they were feeding on emerging insects, blue winged olives and midges wiggling less than an inch from the air. Fallen leaves, scattered on the water, added an impassable barrier for the insects to bump against and for the trout to graze underneath.
The size of individual trout were identifiable by how much water was displaced from the rings. Smaller trout left rings that quickly formed, but just as quickly disappeared. Rings of larger trout, ones we kept an eye out for, appeared softly but carried their momentum further out. With each rise, the leaves on the water listed about helping us to spot the fish but challenging us with where to place a cast.
Autumn on the Spokane has given us plenty of scenes such as that. Last year, we hardly had a fall, but this year is different. The river is spectacular with colorful foliage, pleasant temperatures, October caddis, redband trout still taking flies in the fast, turbulent waters, and mule deer roaming close to the banks. The best fall colors I have found are directly downstream of the Maple Street Bridge, and everyone I take down the Spokane River pulls out their camera phones at almost the exact same spot to save the memory. The calm pools that I usually, grudgingly backrow through during the summer heat now have me tuck the oars up and out of the water so I can have a longer look at the golden leaves reflecting in the stillwater.
We've had a decent amount of cloudy weather and some drizzly rain at times which shapes the river into unique opportunities. The trout wake up more, and the pools and glides are dimpled with rise forms just after the rain clouds pass, so it's been worth it to spend a couple hours on the river under a rain jacket.
The October caddis (size 14) while not bountiful in numbers are nonetheless one of my favorite hatches of the year. What's more apt for the fall season than a fluttering bug whose wings are as gray as the clouds and body as burnt orange as the leaves? It's the last big hatch on our river before the snow storms and freezing temps warp us into winter. It also might just be me but I can't help but use fly patterns with plenty of orange, or at least orange hotspots, during October, and the trout so far have played along with the theme. It's about matching the season and embracing it, I even turned one of my orange indicators into a jack-o-lantern, and I might just start taking a bag of apple cider donuts down the river with me.
The river is holding steady just below 1500cfs, and until we receive more rain it will continue to coast there which makes it "easier" to wade fish. The redband, especially decently sized redband, are still feeding in the pocket water, runs, and riffles, the fast stuff. The water temperature will really have to drop before they feel inclined to move out of that water type. So, dry-droppers have still been working well, and yes we've still had some nice dry fly takes.
Indicator fishing is also the go-to method and if you are looking to improve your nymphing game you should check out an article I typed up recently: Maximizing Your Fly Fishing Success with an Indicator Rig: A Step-by-Step Guide. As winter moves in and the fish head to deeper, slower parts of the river your skills at nymph fishing will be tested by the trout.
Euro nymphing the river right now has also been very productive, including hooking into mountain whitefish, and even a northern pikeminnow on a jig streamer! If you are wading, it can take some time getting into a good position to euro nymph a run, but the results can be worth more than the effort. If you are looking to learn about euro nymphing, or even how to euro nymph from a boat, consider contacting us to get on the river before the season is over.
The weather for the weekend looks like a mix of sun and clouds with pleasant air temperatures. On days like that, the trout seem to feed throughout most the day, it's the rain that really sparks them into feeding on the BWOs and midges. But, if you only have an hour or two to hit the river then aim for the morning because I've seen some generous combo hatches going off (October caddis, BWOs, and midges). Wet flies swung in runs and riffles (and downstream of those water types) during these morning hours is a good idea.
Pace yourself, and enjoy the river right now, it's too splendid not to.
Conservation and Community Events/Updates
Fly Fish Spokane and Fly Project Fly Tying Event,
October 28th, 12:30pm, at Mountain Lakes Brewery
We'll be hosting a fly tying event where we'll be teaching you how to tie the...yep October caddis of course! It's a great fly not only for the Spokane but for many rivers out west. We'll also be talking about tips and tricks for fly fishing the Spokane River, so come with plenty of questions prepared. We will be providing all of the fly tying equipment and materials, but there are only 15 spots available, and the cost is $50 which will get you a beer from the brewery and material to tie three October Caddis patterns.
RSVP for the event here.
Spoken River 2023, A Spokane Riverkeeper Benefit Thursday, November 16, 2023, 5:30 - 8:00pm at the Montvale Event Center Join the Riverkeeper to learn more about the Spokane River through different perspectives and be inspired by a vision for a resilient river in the future.The Spoken River event celebrates stories of the river and the parallels to the flow of our own lives. Creating new channels and carving paths toward the future; the river is guide, muse, and inspiration to many. The event is to also commemorate the success of those who work on behalf of the Spokane River and its tributaries: the past, present and future.
Tickets are $75, and you can learn more about the even here.
Spokane Falls Trout Unlimited and Spokane Women On the Fly (SWOTF)
October Casting Practice
October 22nd, 11:00am-12:30pm at Audubon Park
Are you a new angler wanting to learn the basics? Or an intermediate angler ready to perfect that double haul? Join TU/SWOTF to work on refining those skills. They’ll have stations set up for basic Pick/Lay Down, Distance, Roll Casts and more. Email email@example.com if you need equipment or with any questions.
Spokane Falls Trout Unlimited and Spokane Women On the Fly (SWOTF)
October Hackle and Hops
October 29th, 2:00-4:00pm at Lumberbeard Brewering, Cost $8
After you attend our fly tying event on October 28th, you should continue to expand your fly tying skills by going to the first TU/SWOTF fly tying event of the season! Fly tying packet recipes will be provided. Bring your own vise and tools or sign up to use one of the SWOTF equipment.
For more info and registration, click here.
Washington Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA):
Every month, the local Washington chapter of BHA meets at the restaurant Hunt in downtown Spokane (225 W Riverside Ave STE C, Spokane, WA 99201) and invites a biologist to provide a presentation and discussion on any number of wildlife, conservation, and/or habitat topics. It's a great time to meet other anglers/hunters, learn something about our local wildlife and how we can be more engaged with looking after angling and hunting opportunities within the state.
The next upcoming event is on October 25th, 2023 at 6:00pm - 8pm, more info here.
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.