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Monday, February 17, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

Home waters: Fishing opens on portion of Spokane River Thursday

Mike Visintainer prepares to release a redband trout caught while fly fishing the Spokane River. (Sean Visintainer)
Mike Visintainer prepares to release a redband trout caught while fly fishing the Spokane River. (Sean Visintainer)

FISHING -- Spokane is distinguished to have a wide array of good fishing waters within easy reach in a day, but nothing sets it apart from other would-be great cities more than having a great trout stream running like an angler's artery through town.

"I think my fishing time quadruples when the Spokane River is open for fishing," says Sean Visintainer of Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane Valley. "From the shop we can be on the water in four minutes. From my house about the same. From anywhere in town no more than 15-20 minutes. Pretty awesome."


The Spokane River spring closure to protect spawning wild trout ends today. As detailed in Washington's Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, the limited fishing season will start Thursday,  June 1, from Plese Flats to Monroe Street Dam. On Saturday, June 3, the season will open from Upriver Dam to the state line.

Visintainer's stable of guides have learned few things since they began hosting fly fishers on the river in 2010.  Here's Sean's river outlook posted today on his Silver Bow Blog.

What's conditions like for opener? High and fishable. The continued theme of the spring around here. Hearty, adventurous anglers that get after it will find some water to fish. By opening it should be around 12,000cfs which is doable. Not ideal, but doable. Brushy banks, small pockets and hungry trout are what I would anticipate. Classic opening day of fishing is blizzard caddis hatches starting late afternoon and redband rainbows keying in on caddis pupa throughout the day into in the evening. Bigger water years like this means potentially some salmonfly action down in Riverside State Park. While these bugs typically hatch in May on the 'Kan, the trout will still remember them in early June and a tightly placed salmonfly pattern to the willowy brush along the banks can get a few fish on the surface.

Most of the time the slam dunk set up for opening is some big rubberleg stonefly nymph patterns, caddis pupa, or streamers. Usually the rubber leg stonefly nymphs patterns I like to run in conjunction with the caddis pupa. Streamer fishing will be good too right out of the gate. Big sparkly shit is our go-to for the next month on the river as the levels work their way down. I am however a big fan of the large chernobyl patterns with a dropper below (caddis pupa or pat's rubber legs) from opener to the fall. Spokane River fish are known for their reaction to swung wet flies, but they can be greedy to pluck a large foam bug off the surface all summer long.

For anglers who have never experienced the Spokane River or want to book a guided trip, here's a short video by Cutboard Studios featuring Visintainer as they showcase Spokane's home waters.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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