The Columbia River in north-central Washington isn’t your typical salmon fishing destination. This region of the state is a land of rugged forested peaks and vast fruit orchards, of sagebrush-steppe and reddish-orange volcanic scablands where bighorn sheep roam and golden eagles soar. And it’s home to the famed summer Chinook fishery that kicks off July 1 near the tourist town of Chelan Falls.
Like other popular salmon fisheries in the state the Chelan Falls brewster pool chinook fishing area can get busy, especially on weekends and Fridays. But you can still score a few prime spots. For most anglers the best spot is the Lake Pateros area of the reservoir, also known as the Brewster Pool. This is where the cold, freshwater from Lake Chelan gush in and mixes with the warmer Columbia water, providing a prime holding area for spawning Chinook.
You can target both kings and sockeye at this location. And it’s one of the few places where you can catch both species at the same time. The area is also great for families because it’s an easy fishery for beginners, as well as those looking to avoid the crowds of other more popular fisheries.
There’s a decent chance that this year will see a record return of adult Chinook to the Columbia River mouth, with preseason forecasts calling for 57,500 salmon, up from last year’s estimate of 56,800 fish. That’s good news for anglers who primarily target kings, as the lake-run fish will likely provide more opportunities for anglers.
For those targeting sockeye, there will be a window of opportunity Aug. 4-7, with an opening from the area below the Beebe Bridge to the Elliott Bay Marina breakwater. It can be a challenge to find fish at the lower end of this area because of its shallow water, but some hotspots include the Duwamish Head Marker; the east and west waterways in front of Todd Shipyard; the south and north waters around Salty’s Restaurant; both the Sekiu and Kydaka areas; Slip Point Buoy; Mussolini Rock and Little Mussolini Rock; Slide and Coal Mines areas; and Pillar Point.
The sockeye in this area tend to be larger than those further upstream in the Hanford Reach. You’ll need to use a smaller bait than you would in the upper reaches, with 3.5-inch plugs being a common size. You can also troll this section of the reservoir, with many anglers using downriggers equipped with flasher and a variety of spoons or plugs. A few favorite sockeye lures include the Moose Man, the Red and White Spinner and the Silver Frog.