If you catch a northern pike in Lake Washington — or any other Washington lake, for that matter — do me a personal favor and chop its head off.
Slash its gills, slit its belly, hack it in half, singe the carcass over high heat.
Ahem, I apologize for letting fly such murderous thoughts on a Wednesday morning.
But I’m still scratching my head about what a bass angler was thinking when they caught and released one of the nonnative predators just south of Mercer Island in recent weeks.
It was the second pike captured in the big metro lake since early 2017, both of which could have only arrived in Lake Washington via someone’s livewell or cooler, just like the infestation of walleye.
Hell, we don’t need a border wall, we need a pike wall to keep these illegal piscine immigrants from spreading further into the state from the northeast corner.
And we should task the Washington National Guard with chasing down the bucket biologists responsible for it!
It’s possible that this particular basser was just really confused about what to do with their unexpected catch.
With two growing boys, lord knows I’ve been known to offer the advice “Better safe than sorry.” Who wants a ticket from the gamies for violating some arcane rule?
But I’ll bet today the angler might choose differently — at least, I hope they would.
“Whoever illegally stocked walleye and northern pike into Lake Washington is no friend of warmwater anglers. They are even no friend to walleye anglers,” says Bruce Bolding, the state’s spinyray fisheries manager. “Warmwater detractors tend to put all nonnative species under the same umbrella, but comparing pike and bass is like comparing apples and oranges.”
Pike are an invasive aquatic species — the seventh most unwanted in the entire million square miles of the Western United States, according to a recent report.
They pose a huge threat to native species and the restoration of salmon in the Upper Columbia, as well as downstream should they get past Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph Dams.
So let’s go over the rules for this Fish and Wildlife Commission-designated prohibited species.
Per WDFW’s fishing regulations, there is no minimum size on northern pike, there is no daily limit on northern pike, there is no possession limit on northern pike.
Perhaps the next iteration of the pamphlet should have another line reading something like:
All northern pike hooked and landed by anglers are required to be killed — and a wooden stake must be pushed through the fish’s heart.
I doubt WDFW will do that anytime soon, but I like what the Colville Tribes are doing. This year they’re again offering a $10 reward per pike caught on Lake Roosevelt and the Kettle River.
So in that spirit, I will pay $50 to anyone who brings me a northern pike AND CAN PROVE via video and pictures beyond a shadow of a doubt that it indeed was caught in Lake Washington.
(2018 limit: $150, or first three fish — hey, I’m not made of money and let’s not tell my wife about this, OK?)
We’re at 14240 Interurban Avenue South, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168, less than 7 miles from the Gene Coulon Ramp, and open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Bring me your dead.