Monday, May 20, 2024


Sockeye salmon madness and more



Lake Wenatchee is experiencing a big sockeye boom this year. As of July 21, 67,354 sockeye salmon had passed through Tumwater Dam enroute to Lake Wenatchee. This is well over the ten-year average for the entire run that typically ends in mid-September. This equates to many more sockeye in Lake Wenatchee than anglers have seen in years.

Nate Stull, the owner of Stully’s Guide Service ( has been fishing Lake Wenatchee and says the fishing is pretty good though the boat ramp at Lake Wenatchee State Park is so busy you may end up not getting on the water at first light for the best bite. Even though Stull didn’t get on the water to fish until 6:30 a.m. on his most recent trip, several of his clients still caught limits of sockeye out of his boat during an abbreviated morning bite that saw lots of fish hooked, and several lost with the barbless hooks required here.

Stull is trolling a Mack’s Lure 1.5 Smile Blade spinner in pink or green or glo-burst. Also being trolled are pink hoochies. Eight-inch green or chrome dodgers are tied about 8 to 12 inches in front of the lure. Stull is using downriggers and trolling 45 feet deep in the early morning and going as deep as 90 feet in the late morning. The entire upper end of the lake is fishing well since the sockeye are going up both the White and Little Wenatchee Rivers. Stull does have several openings for Lake Wenatchee. He expects the fishing should remain solid for quality fish until mid-August. You can book a trip with him through his Facebook page or through his website at


The large bounty of sockeye returning to Lake Wenatchee this year has the WashingtonDepartment of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announcing a rare opening of the Wenatchee River from August 1st through September 30th for sockeye salmon with a limit of four sockeye a day, as well as two adult hatchery Chinook salmon per day. The river is open for fishing from the mouth to the Icicle Road Bridge in Leavenworth.

I checked in with Rick Graybill, the fishing guru at Hooked on Toys in Wenatchee and asked him about this new opportunity. Graybill told me the vast majority of the sockeye run has already made it to Lake Wenatchee but with several hundred sockeye a day still entering and traveling up the Wenatchee River on a daily basis, there is the possibility of hooking into some fish here.

Graybill recommends plunking for the fish, casting out a pyramid sinker heavy enough to keep your bait in place without drifting. Twelve to 15 inches up from the sinker he’ll tie on a three-way swivel. Connected to that swivel is a two-foot leader. At the end of the leader, rig up a Spin-N-Glo lure, pink and red being good color choices, along with a couple of beads and then two barbless hooks. On the top barbless hook rig up a canal shrimp for bait. Above that first offering tie on a second three-way swivel and add a second bait rig similar to the first.

As for where to fish, Graybill recommends looking for a point and fishing three to six feet deep since the fish will be hugging the shoreline, especially during the early morning hours. As the day progresses you can still catch them at times but you will want to fish deeper water, like 10 to 12 feet deep.


If you are fishing this weekend around Brewster, you’ll likely have lots of company. The Brewster King Salmon Derby takes place August 4-6 and up to 300 anglers are expected to attend. If you want to participate you may be too late. Ticket sales end at midnight on August 1. You can find out more about the event at


Anglers have come to take sturgeon fishing on the Columbia River for granted but things are changing this summer as both WDFW and ODFW announced a closure to all sturgeon fishing between The Dalles Dam and Priest Rapids Dam until September 15.

At least 24 sturgeon have been found dead in this section of the river this summer, most of them being found in the John Day Pool. One reason why these sturgeon deaths are occurring is the warming temperature in this part of the Columbia River, which is running higher than normal.

Just as catching trout in warm water can be fatal for the fish, the same goes for sturgeon and WDFW biologists say, “High water temperatures and lower dissolved oxygen have been shown to stress and kill sturgeon. While only catch-and-release fishing is allowed this time of year, closing all fishing will help reduce stress from capture and handling and give sturgeon some relief until water temperatures cool off in September.”

John Kruse – and


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