Wenatchee Area Salmon Fishing is Back! Leave a reply

Jul 08, 2021 by Jason Brooks

Summertime Means Central Washington Salmon Fishing

by Jason Brooks

Netting a big King at Chelan Falls-Jason Brooks

Summer is heating up and as July keeps rolling along the Chinook and Sockeye keep climbing the fish ladders at the dams along the Columbia River. That is until they hit rushing waters being let out of the dams as well as the cold water being spilled from the Entiat River and Lake Chelan. The “Upper Columbia River” salmon season is here! 

And so is the Pete Flohr Memorial Wenatchee Salmon Derby, set for July 16thand 17. This event helps the Wenatchee chapter of the CCA and also shows off how great the fishing can be. This year the boundaries are from Rock Island Dam to Wells Dam, which means the confluence of the Wenatchee River, the tailrace below Rocky Reach and Wells dams, and the cold waters where the Entiat and Chelan Rivers dump into the Columbia are all options for this derby. All of these fisheries are popular and for good reason, it’s where to catch upper Columbia River salmon. Talking with Bob Loomis, Marketing and Brand Manager for Mack’s Lure based in Wenatchee, he said the salmon are already here and the fishing has been good, especially in the early morning hours. 

Anglers capturing the memories of a Chelan Falls Chinook-Jason Brooks

Early morning is without doubt prime time. The summer sun shines very bright here and it seems to turn the bite off along with the heat that goes along with it causing anglers to want to head to the local swimming hole instead of the fishing hole. Most fish are caught in pre-dawn hours until the sun hits the water around 7:00 in the morning. This is a shallow water fishery with the bottom being around 25 to 30 feet and often covered in milfoil. This means the downriggers are set at 15 feet for suspended fish and some elect to use a drop weight system with 8 to 14-ounce cannonballs. 

Shane Magnuson of Upper Columbia Guide Service on the net-Jason Brooks

For chinook a standard trolling set up at these fisheries is a Mack’s ScentFlash UV Paddle Flasher in silver or green filled with canned tuna brined with Pro-Cure water soluble Anchovy or Shrimp, a 30” to 36” leader of 30-pound monofilament trailing a Brad’s mini-cut plug or Yakima Bait Company SpinFish. Popular colors are Hot Tamale or Lava, and Rotten Banana in the mini-cut plug or Monkey Pickle, Silver Egg Flo, and Silver Fire Starter in the SpinFish. Stuff the baits with canned tuna or herring and soak them heavily with Pro-Cure Super Gel in Anise Bloody Tuna. Since this is a shallow water troll and you are allowed to fish two poles with the endorsement it is beneficial to throw an extra rod out flatling a MagLip 4.5 in the same colors. 

Upper Columbia salmon fishing is very productive.-Jason Brooks

I fished the Chelan Falls area on the opening weekend in early July and noticed that the boats doing really well were also using a spinner. Trail it behind the ScentFlash UV Paddle Flasher about 20 to 24-inches. Try Hildebrant spinners with brass and green which was working well. 

Mack’s Lure Double D Dodger and Smile Blade Sockeye rigs catch these fish-Jason Brooks

Sockeye anglers can’t go wrong using a Double D 5.8” dodger in silver, or silver/pink trailing a Mack’s Sockeye Rig or a small size 14 or 12 pink Spin-N-Glo with two red 1/0 hooks tipped with a coonstripe shrimp that is cured in Pro-Cures magenta Prawn and Shrimp cure. Be sure to shorten the leaders down to 9-inches and troll as slow as possible. Even back trolling in the current below the dams outfalls in the heavy current. 

To figure out which fishery you might want to give a try look at the Dam fish counts. This will give you an idea on how many fish are in the area, where they are moving too or holding at and if Chinook or Sockeye are your main target depending on the run.

It is time to head to the hot part of the state, where the salmon bite it on and the Wenatchee Salmon Derby is back!  

Jason Brooks

The Outdoor Line-Field Editor

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