Best Places to Catch a Fish in Lake Chelan

The Lake Chelan Valley and surrounding areas have been a hotspot for world-class fishing since the late 1800s when the first settlers arrived. Every year, stocking programs release 100,000 Cutthroat and 500,000 Kokanee (landlocked Salmon) fingerlings into the lake. From Cutthroat and Mackinaw to Chinook Salmon and Kokanee, fishing in and around Lake Chelan is one of the best ways you can enjoy the water any time of the year.

Chelan River

The Chelan River can be easily accessed at Riverwalk Park in Historic Downtown Chelan. This is a great place for even the youngest anglers to fish right off the paved path. Here you’ll mostly find smallmouth bass and the occasional trout. Beware of the Pikeminnow, they like to hang out here as well and have been known to steal your lure!

The Four Lakes

Did you know there are FIVE lakes in the valley? The lesser-known Wapato, Antilon, Dry and Roses Lake are nestled in the hills of Manson and each one holds fish – and experiences – all their own. Check out our quick guide to the kind of fish you can expect in each area. Note that most of these lakes are tough to access from the shore, so a small boat is your best bet at catching something worthwhile!

Stehekin River

At the head of 50.5-mile Lake Chelan, the Stehekin River offers some of the best fly-fishing in the Northwest. Catch & Release Season opens March 1st in the lower river, but bait is prohibited. Only a single, barbless hook is allowed. Regular Season is July 1st through October 31st for Native Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout. Check current regulations – only artificial bait is allowed.

Columbia River

Photo credit: Chelan County PUD

Three miles from Chelan, down the scenic Chelan Falls Road (Hwy 150), the Columbia River is a favorite for Rainbows, Sturgeon, Walleye, Catfish, King Salmon and Steelhead. You’ll want to wear layers for this spot, the river can get windy!

On a Boat

On a boat in the deep waters of Lake Chelan is hands down the best way to catch the prized “big one” every angler has their eye on. There are 20 pounders out there, but they’re not hanging out near the shore! Book a tour with one of the local guides for nearly guaranteed success, or brave it yourself with the proper equipment and some advice from local anglers on the best bait and locations.

Frank’s Pond (Beebee Springs Wildlife Area)

Photo credit: Beebe Springs Wildlife Area

Got kids with you who are under 15? Frank’s Pond is located at the scenic Beebee Springs Wildlife area off Highway 97. This special pond is stocked with highly-catchable Rainbow Trout and several other species, all but guaranteeing that your kiddos will catch a fish. Be sure to follow the rules – all casting and catching must be done by the kids. Note that the area is closed seasonally from December 1 to March 15.

Fishing in Lake Chelan offers a variety of experiences for anglers of all ages and skill levels. From the accessible Chelan River to the remote and serene Stehekin River, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re fishing from a boat on Lake Chelan or casting a line at one of the Four Lakes in Manson, the region provides ample opportunities to reel in a great catch. With its rich fishing history and abundance of fish species, Chelan is truly a fisherman’s paradise. So grab your gear, follow the rules, and enjoy the incredible fishing adventures that await you in this beautiful part of Washington!

Please Note: This blog is not meant to be a comprehensive guide on local fishing regulations. Always check the current Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife regulations before you fish – they are available for free at the Forest Service, Kelly’s Ace Hardware, Chelan Walmart and online. A fishing license is required to fish on Lake Chelan.