Euro nymphing, also called Czech nymphing, is a fly-fishing method increasing in popularity among local anglers according to Sean Visintainer, owner of Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane. “Normal nymphing—with sub-surface flies—typically uses a type of indicator similar to a bobber to regulate the depth and detect strikes. [Euro style] basically means your line is tight from your rod to your nymph, which is heavily weighted, and the drift is so good that your catch rates skyrocket when done properly…especially on the Spokane River, which is notoriously difficult to catch fish with dry flies,” he says. “I love it—it’s a fun way to fish…just another tool in the angler’s arsenal.”
Euro nymphing in smaller creeks is especially good, says Mike Beard, owner of Northwest Outfitters in Coeur d’Alene, where there are “smaller drifts but good presentations.” Rods for this technique are longer, lighter, finer, and more sensitive than regular fly rods. This method uses specialized lines and weighted nymphs. This season anglers are also using a wider variety and more technically-advanced gear, such as using a Spey rod instead of a sink-tip for trout. They are also trying new types of fly lines that “make it a lot more fun to catch fish,” says Beard.
While fishing season is year-round on the St. Joe and Coeur d’Alene rivers, there are new regulations for the Spokane River in Washington State. There used to be different regulations for the three stretches of river in Spokane County, but now the Spokane River from the Idaho border to Nine Mile Falls dam is closed from March 15 to the Saturday before Memorial Day weekend, which is May 25 this year. The new regulations simplify the rules and verbiage about catch-and-release, which should reduce confusion and poaching. If you see someone fishing on the river before opening day, you should report it via the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife enforcement page. New signs will be installed in late spring or early summer to spread awareness about these new rules, thanks to the collaborative work of Silver Bow and Trout Unlimited.
So, when will fly fishing be good on the region’s top fly fishing rivers this year? While peak fly-fishing season is June through August, the fishing can be good in spots in May. “Everything is a little behind compared to last year, as far as river conditions. Be patient and it will come around,” says Visintainer. “I typically really like May and June, even during bigger snowpack years—this year is pretty average. Water is going to be high and fishable. It’s going to be very productive—just need to pick and choose your spots. We should have good insect hatches, and the water should be colder for longer this year.” If snowmelt run-off occurs towards the end of May, which is historically typical, anglers “can fish longer into the summer with colder water,” says Beard. “It’s shaping up to be a good season around here.”
Northwest Outfitters, which owns the local Orvis corporate fly-fishing school, offers free “Orvis 101” classes on Saturday mornings through May, with knot-tying and casting lessons at the nearby pond at Riverstone Park. Guided fishing trips are also available for the Coeur d’Alene River.
Silver Bow provides guide services for the Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, and St. Joe Rivers, with trip planning dependent on current river conditions. //