Lake Chelan

Stretching over 50 miles from the town of Chelan to Stehekin, this is the largest natural lake in Washington. Consult the Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for specific regulations at this lake.

Fishing for Kokanee is usually best from mid-April through June.  In June and July, catchable-size Cutthroat Trout are planted and anglers targeting these fish have been having great success in recent years on fish averaging 12 inches with some reaching 17 inches or more on occasion.   Anglers after trophy fish have a chance to catch Lake Trout (mackinaw) as well as land locked Chinook salmon. The state Lake Trout record has been broken several times here over the years, including the latest occurring in February of 2013, which weighed in at 35.63 lbs. Naturally producing landlocked Chinook are in relatively lower abundance than other targeted species and are occasionally and incidentally caught while targeting Lake Trout and Kokanee.  A fairly good Smallmouth Bass fishery with some quality fish exists in the lower portion of the lake near Chelan and Manson. 

The Washington Department of Health (DOH) issues fish consumption advisories for Lake Chelan. For more information, contact the DOH Office of Environmental Health Assessments at 877-485-7316 or see a list of advisories by water body.

Two-pole fishing is allowed

Shoreline access: Good - Numerous boat luanches and public docks offer opportunity to catch fish from the shoreline. The shoreline on the upper portion of the lake is mostly USFS land, providing opportunities for shore access.

Species you might catch

Lake information

County: Chelan
Acreage: 32622.70 ac.
Elevation: 1102 ft.
Center: 48.030244, -120.344078
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Fishing prospects calendar

Rainbow trout

Fishing success for Rainbow Trout is generally best in the spring when thousands of fish are stocked statewide, but they can be caught year-round in most waters with a little patience and persistence. Success remains high into June and gradually declines as water temperatures increase and fish move offshore to stay cool. Fish that escaped the spring harvest return to the nearshore areas in the fall as waters cool off. Some waters may also be stocked again in the fall further boosting catch rates.

Chart showing fishing prospects throughout the calendar year

Westslope cutthroat trout

See chart for details.

Chart of fishing prospects throughout the calendar year

Kokanee

The Kokanee fishery typically lasts from April-October before the adults leave the lake to spawn in tributaries starting in late-October and early-November. Fishing is best in the spring before they move into deeper water to avoid warming water temperatures, but they can be targeted throughout the summer in deeper offshore areas near the thermocline. There may be a slight uptick in some waters in the fall as adults return to shallower water and move near shore towards spawning tributaries.

Chart of fishing prospects throughout the calendar year

Largemouth bass

Fishing improves throughout the spring as waters warm and fish move onshore, peaking during the spawn. Summer is a slight lull though dawn/dusk hours can be very good. Catch improves in Fall as waters cool, vegetation begins to die back, and prey becomes more available. Winter is the hardest time because fish are offshore and slow moving.

Chart of fishing prospects throughout the calendar year

Smallmouth bass

Fishing improves throughout the spring as waters warm and fish move onshore, peaking during the spawn. Summer is a slight lull though dawn/dusk hours can be very good. Catch improves in Fall as waters cool, vegetation begins to die back, and prey becomes more available. Winter is the hardest time because fish are offshore and slow moving.

Chart of fishing prospects throughout the calendar year

Northern pikeminnow

Fishing success for Northern Pikeminnow increases in May and June as water temperatures increase, and generally peaks in late June, although fishing conditions can vary throughout the Columbia River. After a lull during the heat of summer, fishing success peaks again in late September-early October. Northern Pikeminnow congregate in rocky areas with fast currents near dams, islands, stream mouths, points, eddies, rows of pilings, and ledges or bars in the river. Sunrise, sunset, and night are generally the best fishing times. Studies show there are greater concentrations of Northern Pikeminnow in shallow water during low-light conditions.

Chart of fishing prospects throughout the calendar year

Photos

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Image credit
WDFW