Bull Trout Caught in Spokane River

Sean Visintainer - 08/22/19

Spokane River Bull Trout

A diamond in the rough

Every now and then the Spokane River throws you a curve ball. It certainly was the case for Jolene Rosamonda when she realized she had just landed a bull trout in our hometown waters Tuesday afternoon!

The Spokane, as many know, is a very URBAN fishery so to find a fish such as a bull is the rarest of treats. In my 17 year career at the shop I have never heard of anyone catching a bull trout in the Spokane. This was definitely a first.

It’s tough to say exactly where this fish came from, but the fact that it seems to be surviving in the Spokane says a lot. According to local biologist, it was probably a St. Joe River fish that had found it's way though Lake Coeur d'Alene, over the Post Falls Dam and into the Spokane River system. This happens occasionally with other species such as the landlocked Chinook that find their way onto anglers lines every so often as well.

According to local bios, bull trout were native to the Spokane River pre-Coulee dam. Since there is no fish passages allowing fish to migrate into the Spokane species like bull trout, salmon, and steelhead no longer enter the river.

However this fish came to be in the Spokane, the fact that it seems to be surviving says a lot.

Congrats Jolene and thank you Heather Hodson - Northwest Fly Girl for the pics and sharing the moment with us, a truly special occasion!


I spoke with Jolene about the experience. She said the fight was not like your ordinary Spokane River Redband, this fish fought fought aggressively, diving straight down. Not your typical rainbow fight where they often jump and run. She also noted the fish went for a stonefly nymph called the TJ Hooker, a new pattern we picked up at the shop. It has a small marabou tail for more movement and is typed with a tungsten bead on a jig hook.

A neat thing that came about from this once in a lifetime catch is some more data to help bull trout recovery efforts in Washington and rivers like the St. Joe. Local bull trout specialist have take an interest in Jolene's catch saying that it was the first one in quit sometime that had been documented on the Spokane. The last was in 2007 during fish surveys.

... Second rock on the left

Spokane River Bull Trout