A yellow perch derby will be held on Lake Sammamish tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 15, part of an effort to help out the lake’s landlocked salmon.
“They are abundant and are predators of the endangered kokanee salmon at certain life stages,” say organizers of the event being put on by Trout Unlimited. “The derby will not only help to reduce the number of perch in the lake but will educate anglers about kokanee salmon and the ongoing work to improve the watersheds and health of Lake Sammamish.”
Headquartered at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah, the derby begins at 7 a.m. and runs till 2 p.m.
Prizes include $200 each for longest and heaviest perch, and heftiest overall catch (maximum: 25 fish).
There’s also a youth division with $50 gift certificate to a sporting goods retailer for the same three categories.
More prizes from the Snoqualmie Tribe and local businesses will be given away as well.
And according to TU, all proceeds will go towards recovering kokanee.
Those in the King County lake have been struggling for decades as the surrounding area has urbanized, and despite efforts to prop up the population in recent years, there has been an alarming decline in spawning numbers.
Less than 20 were counted in tributaries last fall, prompting an emergency response from county officials.
TU was among the groups that in 2007 petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list Sammamish kokanee under the Endangered Species Act, but in 2011 the feds declined to do so, saying it wasn’t an independent population.
Yellow perch are a popular sportfish. According to state biologist Aaron Bosworth, the species was introduced into Lake Sammamish in 1915, and though it’s unclear who put them there, it came near the end of the era when the U.S. Fish Commission was moving Eastern gamefish into Western waters.
These days, efforts are being made to get them out of the lakes, or at least limit their numbers and impacts to young salmonids.
After perch were illegally stocked into Eastern Oregon’s Phillips Reservoir, state officials launched a gillnetting campaign and released piscivorous tiger muskies into the lake to try and recover the once-vaunted rainbow trout fishery.
In Northeast Washington, after a “startling increase” in perch numbers at previously clean Curlew Lake, locals organized a “Perch Purge.”
Tickets for the Lake Sammamish derby are $20 for adults and $5 for kids, $30 and $10 if you register on site at the state park tomorrow.