Fishing Report, Spokane River, September 10th 2021
Updated: Mar 22, 2022
It was another warm week of smoke and haze on the Spokane, nothing quite as bad as earlier in the summer but hot enough to have you decently perspiring by early afternoon. The trout were a bit more fickle, as they should be with sunny, hot weather, and most of the fly fishing was targeted around the morning and evening hours. However, there were some surprising moments.
Earlier in the week, our guide Ethan Crawford helped to put an angler onto a wonderful trout. While fishing the Spokane, it is way too easy to let your guard down when the trout are just not playing along. After so many perfect drifts of a fly, you just start to look around for something of interest, maybe starring at an osprey, searching for new seams of current, or thinking about lunch. Thankfully, our ever-vigilant guide Ethan kept his gaze set on the angler's dry-dropper and the moment that dry fly plunged under he called "Set!" because he knew that the trout had just taken the dropper fly.
You can tell when you have hooked into a great trout when the rod bends over heavy and holds that beautiful arc. Then the trout confirms its size with a flash or head shake just below the water's surface, your heart pumps a bit faster. Success comes with guide and angler working as a team to point out obstacles, manage the line, direct the fish, position the net, and make the catch. It all worked out this time, after a spirited fight the trout came to net and there were plenty of smiles to go along with it. Truly a whopper on dropper!
So, what brought success in that situation? Well, lots of things, but we can all take some lessons learned and apply them to our time on the river. First, the trout was holding in the tailout of a long glide right before it receded into some pocket water. The tailouts of these glides and pools have been holding some nice numbers of trout. There also needs to be structure (i.e. boulders) to give the trout a place to feel secure. Second, the trout took the dropper that was tied onto some 5x tippet roughly 24 inches below a very buoyant dry fly. With the kind of prolonged skinny water we've had this summer the dry-dropper has been pivotal in catching trout. Finally, leaving your fly in the water to drift. These tailouts are relatively smooth and any disturbance can cause a trout to spook and flee. Give the flies a nice long drift and then gently pick them up after they have swung downstream and make another cast. Far too many anglers are slinging cast after cast and they just need to let the flies work for them. Oh, and it helps to have a guide who is always watching your fly!
The fall canopy of colors continues to creep further along on the riverbanks, it seems out of place with the heat, smoke, and haze this week. Yet, cooler weather is in store for this weekend along with some potential rainfall. If you are able to make it onto the river while the weather/rain moves in then it should be some decent fly fishing. Any sort of cloud cover and precipitation helps to wake the river back up, so grab your rain jacket and head down to the river.
The river also received a much needed bump of water the other day (see: Spokane River Gauge) which can also help the trout to stay active throughout the day and not just in the mornings and evenings. With the bump in water, swinging wet flies through the current was also producing nicely. This is a great tactic while wade fishing and I love to fish up a run or pocket water with a dry-dropper and then swing a pair of wet flies downstream of me as I head back down river.
Fly recommendation for this week? Gosh, I would be lost if I was not using Frenchies this summer. They have truly been at the top of the fly pattern roster for me. That wonderful trout that we described above...it took a Frenchie. I have even been tying my Frenchies using some turkey feathers from a turkey I shot this Spring, so every trout caught on a Frenchie feels just a bit more special.
Lastly, whenever you are going out for some fly fishing, please consider packing a trash bag or grocery shopping bag into your pack and filling it up with garbage on your way out. We are all stewards of the river, and it is an urban fishery that needs all the stewards it can get. Also, check out Spokane Riverkeeper for info on river clean-ups and news about the health of the river. I also highly recommend signing up for their monthly newsletter which is packed full of great knowledge and information on what you can do to help out the river (they also have a podcast as well which talks about a ton of interesting topics focused on the Spokane 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.