When I got invited to Spokane, I wanted to see if there was a possibility to go fly fishing. I have heard that Gonzaga basketball coach Mark Few is an avid angler. Since Gonzaga University is in Spokane, I figured there would be an opportunity. On my last day in town, I was able to go on a Spokane River fly fishing adventure.
Putting in below the Spokane Falls
This would not be the first time I put in below Spokane Falls. Just two days earlier on a trip with Wiley Waters, we rafted this section. In fact, I ran into my guide Clayton at the put-in as he was getting set to take another group out. My fishing guide for today, Jake with Silver Bow Fly Shop informed me that we would drift most of the same section. We would take out before the class III rapids.
Jake informed me that the fishing on the Spokane River is top notch and the river is under utilized by anglers. This was a similar refrain from our rafting trip. I wrote in my rafting post that I could not think of too many rivers where class III rapids were located just downstream of a major urban area. I could say the same thing about quality fly fishing. Usually you have to drive far away to find the great fishing holes. When I fly fished in Vail, Colorado, we drove over an hour and a half outside of the village.
Related: Fly Fishing the Colorado River
Getting started on the Spokane River Fly Fishing adventure
Jake maneuvered the float boat into the river. He also gave basic safety for floating down the river and then assumed the oars and we began the adventure downstream. Almost immediately, I was casting for trout. On our float down the river, we would seek out the quieter waters and the eddies and try and manipulate the fly so it dragged through the breakwater in between the slower and faster water.
At first we used a fly that was a little heavy and sank, so I pulled it in a little quicker than normal since I did not want it caught up on the rocks below. Jake gave instruction on where to cast, how to cast, and how to reel in as I began. I have fly fished before, but it has been three years, so I definitely needed a refresher. Jake did a phenomenal job of coaching me throughout the day.
Switching to nymphs
I did have a few strikes with the fly, but I was unable to set the hook. Despite the bites, the action was a little slow at first. We switched to a few different colors and then switched to a lighter nymph with an indicator (bobber looking apparatus). Jake showed me how to use the nymph. This is what I used in Colorado with great success, so I felt more comfortable using this method.
While showing me the method, Jake caught a fish. He handed me the rod, but the fish got off. I casted myself and almost immediately had another strike, but once again the fish got off. My skills at setting the hook were a little less than desired. I needed to be a little more forceful setting the hook since we were using barbless hooks.
When fly fishing, there is so much you have to do and think about to get the fly in the right spot that it takes a lot of determination. It takes even more focus to remember to set the hook once you get a bite. Despite not catching any fish, I was having a blast doing my best to cast correctly and placing the fly in the right spot in the river.
As mentioned before, this was my second day floating this section of river; however, today was sunny and beautiful. The day we rafted was overcast. The scenery was great even when cloudy, but it was sensational with bright sunlight. I could not be happier breathing in the clean air and enjoying a wonderful float down the river.
The key to float fly casting
The most important part of fishing for trout while floating in a boat is getting a natural drift of the fly in the right spot of the river. The cast was the most important part, and if you did this successfully, then it was necessary to manipulate the line so it was floating behind the indicator and lure. If the line was in front of the lure and indicator it created an unnatural drag that the fish would definitely pick up on.
When the line drifted in front of the lure, it was necessary to loop it back or bend it back. This way you could keep your lure drifting correctly in the right spot for a longer period of time in the right area instead of recasting.
Floating versus shore casting
There are many benefits to floating down a river fly fishing instead of shore casting. You have a variety of fishing areas while floating down the river. Once a good area was found, Jake dropped the anchor, and I could work the same spot. Almost every time we got to a new spot, I would have action on the first couple of casts and then it would dry up. Once it dried up, we moved downstream. The one downside of floating is once a fishing area is past, there is no going back.
You can also just slowly float downstream and drift the lure along the break in the fast and slow water. We switched off doing both techniques. During the faster water, I would take the lure out and secure my legs in the saddle in the front of the boat.
On the last stretch of water before the take out, I finally landed and brought in a rainbow trout. You never want to finish a fishing trip without a fish. After a few near misses and some frustration, it was great to get on the trout board. We took a few pictures with the fish and promptly returned him to the water, and he swam away.
Wonderful way to end a Spokane River fly fishing adventure
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole trip to Spokane, but catching a fish on the last day was definitely the highlight. Jake was an excellent guide and a great fishing partner. We had great conversation down the river in between instruction and rapids. After the trip, I can see why Mark Few wants to stay in Spokane. If you find yourself in Spokane and and want to try fly fishing, look up Silver Bow Fly Shop.
I was hosted by Visit Spokane Tourism Bureau on a media trip coordinated with the Volume Inlander Music Festival. The complimentary trip did not impact this post fly fishing the Spokane River. The words, photos, and blood, sweat, and tears fishing are my own. Thank you Spokane and Silver Bow Fly Shop for having me on this wonderful adventure.
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