THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME
An angler fishing for smallmouth bass and perch on Lake Cascade near Crown Point earlier this week instead reeled in an adult walleye, measuring more than 19 inches in length. Fish and Game regional fisheries manager Dale Allen positively identified the fish on Wednesday, August 22.
The fish was illegally stocked in the reservoir and is the first-ever confirmed report of a walleye in Lake Cascade. Because of the illegal stocking and the threat walleye pose to Cascade’s and other downstream fisheries, Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) is offering a cash reward for information regarding this criminal case. Call the CAP hotline anytime at 1-800-632-5999.
Idaho has just a few walleye fisheries, all established by Fish and Game, and all in isolated reservoirs. Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir in south central Idaho is one example; no outlets from the reservoir exist that might allow walleye to escape to other waters. It is because of their potential threat to existing fisheries that walleye have not been more widely stocked in other Idaho waters.
The Department receives angler requests to establish new walleye populations every year. For the reasons noted, these requests are courteously denied. Unfortunately, some self-serving anglers are not willing to take no for an answer, instead taking matters into their own hands. “This illegal introduction was carefully thought out,” Allen noted. “The closest walleye fishery is more than 200 miles from Cascade. To survive the extended transport time, this fish – and possibly others – would have required clean, cold, aerated water for a number of hours.”
The Department may not know the extent or severity of this illegal stocking for several years. Because of the high stakes, resources will be diverted from other projects to expand fish sampling in Lake Cascade later this year to see if more adult walleye are present and to determine whether reproduction has occurred.
“This incident is particularly disheartening for Cascade,” Allen said. “Fish and Game spent years rebuilding a world-class perch fishery, and the reservoir is also full of big trout and trophy smallmouth bass. Adding another top predator like walleye will almost certainly impact these other sport fish.”
The negative ramifications of this illegal stocking extend well beyond the shores of Lake Cascade. With thousands of acre feet of irrigation water released from the reservoir on an annual basis, it’s no stretch that walleye could move through the Payette River system into Brownlee Reservoir and the Hells Canyon section of the Snake River.