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Photo: Rajah Bose

By: Chip Roe

Last Month I talked about the Centennial trail. This Month lets take a look at the Spokane River. The Spokane River flows 111 miles from Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to Lake Roosevelt, which is the Columbia River impounded by Grand Coulee Dam. The lower 29 miles of the Spokane River is known as the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt. The river basin is about 2,400 square miles in size. There are seven dams on the Spokane, from Post Falls Dam at the outlet from Lake Coeur d’Alene to Little Falls Dam at river mile 29. All have hydroelectric generators. One, Upriver Dam, is owned and operated by the City of Spokane and the others are owned by Avista Corp., an electricity and natural gas utility based in Spokane. The dams were built between 1890 and 1922. None has fish-passage facilities. Little Falls Dam, completed in 1911 at river mile 29, stopped the fish from returning farther upstream. The dam was built with a fish ladder, but it did not work well. The much larger and spectacular Long Lake Dam, (well worth the trip if  you have never been there) completed in 1915 five miles upstream, had no fish ladder. Salmon continued to spawn downriver from Little Falls Dam into the late 1930s, when Grand Coulee Dam, then under construction, blocked all salmon and steelhead from the upper Columbia River Basin. Although Salmon no longer swim upstream the trout fishing is excellent! Fishing the Spokane river is an adventure awaiting the ambitious angler. The smell of the forest and the sounds of the river just west of Spokane make you feel as though you were fishing a remote wilderness and make you forget you are merely a few miles from the city. There is plenty of easy access however I enjoy taking my pole along with my mountain bike to less traveled sections for the best fishing. Rainbow and Brown trout are most common and can be caught year round. I have caught many fish the largest up to 24 inches in the deeper less fished sections. Some of my best outings have been in mid winter fishing along snow covered banks. Fall is also excellent as the trout are gorging on the last of the fall insects. It is not the easiest of rivers to fish, but the experienced angler can assuredly hook into some nice sized trout while enjoying the spectacular scenery. Check with the local shops and guides about what tackle to use and where to access the river.  Also be sure to check with the Dept of Fish and wildlife to make sure you are working the right areas at the right season. Wildlife is abundant along the river. I often stumble across otters, beaver, deer, porcupines, coyote, Skunk, wild turkey, geese and many other species of birds and waterfowl.  In Summer I have had some real excitement when I have rarely but a time or two come across a rattle snake. These are smaller snakes and very shy, usually taking the first opportunity to get out of your way. Unless like me the sound of them rattling causes involuntary sprinting in the opposite direction. There are also bull snakes, much larger but non venomous as well as smaller garter snakes. All three species are very interesting and beneficial. I encourage you to find the time to ride, hike, fish or wildlife watch the Spokane river next time you get the chance. You’ll be glad you did! See you next Month with more “Where to in Spokaloo”

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