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Featured Lake Article

By Mike and Susan Emerson

Dec 14, 2000

This lake is part of the Columbia River that is backed up by Chief Joseph Dam. There is a very nice boat ramp at Bridgeport State Park and also one behind the dam. This lake has all species of fish that is in the Columbia River. It has a 2 fish limit on rainbow per day, and for all other game fish the statewide rules apply, including Walleyes. They have been catching rainbows trolling along the bank edge. Also, they have caught some large rainbow fishing by the dam on bottom bouncers. This is a very large lake where the wind can pick up very quickly and blow you off the lake. Small boats should be aware of this. There is camping at the Bridgeport State Park and other nearby areas. If you fish from the shore, you have to buy a special fishing license from the Colville Indian Tribe.

Directions are as follows from the Seattle area: Take I-90 east to Cle Elum, and turn north on Hwy 97 toward Wenatchee. Continue on Hwy 97 through Lake Chelan Rec. area, the towns of Pateros and Brewster into the town of Bridgeport. Either follow the signs to Bridgeport State Park, or cross over the bridge into the town of Bridgeport and take an immediate left after the bridge to go to the ramp behind the dam.

Bridgeport State Park Facilities

10 standard campsites, 20 hookup sites, 4 walk-in standard sites, 8 group campsites (capacity, 75 people), 20 picnic sites, one bath house, 2 comfort stations, trailer dump, boat launch and docks, Ranger residence, shop, storage building, and a trail to observation point about 1/4 mile. The Commission has a concession agreement with the Lake Woods Golf Club, Inc., for the operation of a golf course, club house, and sale of food. There is currently a temporary extension of the agreement pending renewal of a property lease with Corps of Engineers.

From Stampie on the Forum:

I don’t know where you plan to launch your boat and fish. Since the lake is 50 some-odd miles long you won’t be traveling far in a 12 ft Livingston with a 9.9 HP outboard. There are three sites that I know of. Two of which I have never used. One at the lower end at Chief Joseph Dam, another close to the top end of the lake near Grand Coulee and the third is located at one of the net pens near Nespelem on the Colville Indian Reservation. There is a fourth site at the State Park across from the Corp launch at Chief Joe but I believe it is closed this time of year. The Corp launch is fantastic and you will find good fishing not far away.

If you looked at an earlier report from both Aaron and Mike you saw a picture of them with their fantastic catch. That picture was taken near the “Can Line”. It is a series of barrels lashed together to form a barrier just above the dam. This is a good starting point. You probably will not be alone. There will be bank anglers near the “Can Line” on the Corp site and I am sure there will be a few boats trolling along the “Cans”. Last month a pink wedding ring topped with a worm or an orange power egg was lethal. All the fish we caught were in the top 5 feet of the water column. According to the locals, fish high from April to November and fish low from November thru March.

I believe that although you may be trolling, using any kind of bait other than artificial lures requires you to keep (or release) the first two fish you catch and go home. I don’t know if I agree with it but I think that’s the law. Trust me, there are some that will challenge you if they find out that you are using live bait.

Most of the fish you will be catching will be in the 2 to 4 pound class. Nothing wrong with that….! Not all will be Trips either. You may be surprised to see how many natives you catch. Most of the fish taken in the lower end is taken along the right side looking up stream. Try trolling close to shore and watch your depth finder. Remember, you are on a river that is constantly in change. Most of the lake is deep but there are shallows that will grab your gear. Don’t make your choice of lures difficult. Remember, these are just trout so start by using something you have faith in.

I believe there is a Corp map of the lake on the Internet. I suggest you find it. It well not give depths but it will give land marks that you will recognize if you decide to travel a bit - I find it invaluable.
Editors note (Marc):
It will list mileage from Chief Joe to the first pump casing and the distance between all the pump casings from Joe to Coulee.

In closing I would like to make a personal statement. Many of the reports you read are about numbers. You read reports from some bragging about 40 fish days. Although some of us may know the proper way to release fish, the mortality rate is still very high. This lake is not planted by the state. Other than the occasional unintended release from one of the pens it only receives a small plant from the Corp. This is a high quality lake and hopefully we can keep it that way. Please don’t be too greedy and save this fishery for all to enjoy for many years to come.

Visit for a secluded and great fishing experience.