Fishing Report, Spokane River, September 23rd 2022
The tops of the trees are starting to change along the Spokane River, just a bit of red or yellow leaves mixed into the canopies. Combine that with some really decent weather, and this past week was a really pleasant time to be out on the river. The mornings were also chilly enough to warrant light jackets, but it warmed up enough by lunchtime that we were back to fishing in t-shirts.
The trout were still very active during this past week. The mornings started off a little sluggish and as the day pressed on the trout activity bumped up as well. Flows along the river, below the Spokane Falls, are around 1300cfs and necessitated a mixture of dry-dropper, indicator, euro nymphing, and even streamer fishing to hook into some of these trout. We were still having hits on large terrestrial patterns amongst the pocket water in the afternoons and even saw some trout rising to midges near the heads of runs or tailouts of pools/glides.
Indicator fishing with two weighted nymphs (size 12-14 nymphs spaced about 20-24 inches apart) was productive for both trout and whitefish. Fishing the heads of runs and then all the way down to their tailouts should be a very effective tactic for this weekend. If you are not hooking into fish on your indicator rig, go longer, use lighter tippet and/or heavier beads, and also consider trying a different leader like the one laid out in our Drop-Shot Rig article. That leader can be used in a regular indicator setup but without the use of the split shot hanging beneath the point fly (you will want to use weighted flies however to get the rig to depth). That simple leader formula really improves how quickly the flies get to depth, stay at depth, and hang more vertically beneath the indicator rather than cruising along higher up in the water column.
The real crusher this week was euro nymphing. I had a couple anglers on the raft that floated with me on two days this past week and we worked on euro nymphing from the boat. It is an entirely different method to fly fish so the casting is a bit wonky to begin with, but after a bit of practice the results spoke to how effective this style of nymphing is on the Spokane.
For anglers looking to learn how to euro nymph (tightline nymph), be sure to contact us to set up a trip on the river. Many anglers get dismayed by euro nymphing's steep learning curve, but once it all begins to click I think it makes way more intuitive sense than standard indicator fishing (plus it's a heck of a lot of fun!).
If you already know how to euro nymph, then that would be my preferred recommendation for this weekend. It is challenging, however, to wade close enough to get the right drifts with a euro rod, so practice safe wading (wear felt boots, waders, and consider having a wading staff).
We even streamer fished with the euro rods and had some great trout come to the net. Most of these larger trout were still caught in the pocket water, heads of runs, and riffles. These larger trout are still looking to bulk up before the temps come down. If you are interested in streamer fishing, be sure to stop by the North 40 fly shop in town and talk with Ethan or Caden about fly recommendations (anything jig-style with a heavier bead usually works well...and crayfish patterns).
This is also the time of year that I get pulled in two directions: the river and the woods. It can be tough making the decision to either spend the day wading a river with a fly rod or walking the woods with the over-under. I typically defer to spending cloudy days on the water and sunnier days amongst the forest looking for grouse. However, with a bird dog in our home now he has been casting his vote and it's always for the woods!
Regardless, the fall season is a great time spent catching trout, hunting in the mountains or out in the sagebrush, foraging for mushrooms, or enjoying some of the fall harvests from our local farms and orchards. We are very lucky to have all of these pursuits and activities right here in Spokane.
Huge thanks to everyone that either signed up and did one of the river clean ups this year or just carried a bag with them and filled it up with garbage at the end of the day. Through the Spokane River Forum and Spokane Riverkeeper there were 65 clean ups, over 1,900 volunteers, and over 23,600lbs of trash collected from the Spokane River.
The Spokane River is an urban river, and no one likes to see that amount of garbage along our local watershed. It is the effort from anglers, kayakers, beach goers, etc., and anyone that enjoys seeing our local outdoor spaces protected that truly displays how much the Spokane is a cherished river.
Again, whether you signed up for a clean-up event or just filled a bag with garbage at the end of a fishing day, thank you (and my co-workers the redband trout thank you as well).
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.