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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

July 22, 2009 at 2:58 PM

Upper Columbia River sockeye fishery a blast

While we can’t fish for sockeye salmon in Lake Washington this summer, there is one place if you’re willing to take that looong drive that has been producing some very good sockeye fishing.

The Upper Columbia River below the mouth of the Okanogan River near Brewster is that sockeye haven for those who thirst to quench their craving of the delicious red fleshed fish.

I’ve gotten three calls in the past two days from Frank Urabeck, a sport fishing advocate from Auburn who loves the Lake Washington sockeye fishery when it is open, but is willing to travel to find them elsewhere.

The first call from Urabeck came on Tuesday afternoon when he left me a voice mail about him and his two grandsons who moved recently to the great Pacific Northwest from the grasslands of Kansas.

“We hooked nine sockeye and boated five of them,” Urabeck said before it got too hot to stay on the boat and the boys opted for the swimming pool instead.

In an excited voice he told me how the fishery was just like the one in Lake Washington.

“We got here [Monday afternoon], and we had three fish on at once, and landed two of them,” Urabeck said. “We are fishing down about 30 feet in a place I call the Honey Hole that is 70 feet deep. We are using the same gear as we would in Lake Washington.”

That is two red double hooks trailed about nine to 15 inches behind a silver colored dodger weighed down with a downrigger ball.

“So far we’ve got 10 sockeye on 16 hook ups,” came the updated this morning from Urabeck who then called back 10 minutes later to tell me to tack on an 11th fish.

The boat ride from the boat ramp in Brewster to the Honey Hole is only about 2½ miles.

“The fish are in great shape and nice and bright,” said Urabeck who was referring to their color and not the fishes IQ or couch potato body shape.

Urabeck also holds out hope that a Lake Wenatchee sockeye fishery is possible, and fish counts from Wells Dam below Pateros look good. Stay tuned for that news in the next couple of weeks.

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