Tag Archives: bonneville power administration

Money Minnow Season Wraps Up With Cathlamet, New Angler On Top

The 2019 pikeminnow sport reward season wrapped up early last week and it featured a pair of surprises.

Not only did Cathlamet retain its title of top station, but for the first time in a decade there’s a new top-earning angler, according to program manager Eric Winther.

AN ANGLER BELOW BONNEVILLE DAM UNHOOKS A NORTHERN PIKEMINNOW. (PIKEMINNOW.ORG)

He called it perhaps a “‘changing of the guard’ in the pikeminnow world,’ in which anglers are paid to remove these native fish that prey on young salmon and smolt in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

Until last year, Cathlamet had never had highest haul since the program’s inception in 1991, according to Winther, but it followed up 2018’s 25,135 with an even larger tally, 27,317 qualifying pikeminnow.

That equates to just over 18.5 percent of all the fish brought in during the May 1-Sept. 30 season for rewards from $5 to $8, with specially tagged ones worth $500.

“The Dalles station didn’t really happen for the second straight year and the Mid-Columbia stations around the Tri-Cities had down years as well,” noted Winther.

Second best location was Boyer Park on the Snake with 20,989, followed by Washougal with 11,785.

Catch per angler was strongest at Ridgefield, Kalama and Beacon Rock, with an average of 10.3, 10.2 and 10.0 pikeminnow apiece through the season for participating fishermen.

“We have a new top angler for the first time since 2009,” Winther added.

That fisherman earned $50,647 for bringing in 6,187 pikeminnow, including three with tags.

The second-place angler took in $38,365 for their 4,490 and five tags.

Names of participants aren’t divulged.

This year’s catch of 146,082 was the lowest back to 2009, and well below the longterm average of roughly 172,000.

“On a positive side, we did once again hit our exploitation target, 10 to 20 percent, for the 22nd consecutive year, which is the truest gauge of program success,” Winther noted.

Meeting that goal is believed to reduce predation on young Chinook, coho, steelhead and other salmonids by up to 40 percent.

Funding comes from the Bonneville Power Administration, which operates a number of dams on the Columbia system, and which  made pikeminnow much more effective at snacking on outmigrating smolts.

Walleye, Caspian terns and other piscovores also prey on the little fish, while California and Steller sea lions chow down on returning adults.

Federal overseers are now taking public comment on a proposal by state and tribal managers to expand the area where pinnipeds can be removed and could lead to as many as 416 being taken out a year to help ESA-listed fish populations. It would allow lethal removals from around Washougal upstream to McNary Dam as well as salmon-bearing tribs below there.

Anglers participating in the pikeminnow program are reminded they have to submit their vouchers by Nov. 15 to receive payment.

50 Walleye Worth $1,000 Each Waiting To Be Caught In IDFG Lake Pend Oreille Study

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

If the great taste of a walleye fillet isn’t enough, anglers will now have added incentive to catch and keep walleye in Lake Pend Oreille and connected Idaho waters. Starting March 1, an experimental program launched by Idaho Fish and Game and Avista will offer a chance at cash rewards for anglers harvesting walleye.

IDAHO FISHERY MANAGERS SAY NONNATIVE INVASIVE WALLEYE WILL BE SWIMMING IN LAKE PEND OREILLE “FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE” BUT THEY ARE ALSO TESTING WHETHER ANGLERS CAN HELP KEEP THEIRS POPULATIONS IN CHECK THROUGH A STUDY THAT INVOLVES SPECIALLY TAGGED FISH WORTH $1,000. (MATT CORSI, IDFG)

Fifty walleye in Lake Pend Oreille, the Clark Fork River and the Pend Oreille River have been injected in the snout with a tiny, internal tag. These tags are invisible to anglers, but turning in heads from legally caught walleye offers anglers a chance at two types of cash rewards. Anglers will receive $1,000 for a head that is turned in from a tagged walleye. Additionally, every walleye head turned in enters anglers in the monthly drawing for ten cash prizes of $100 each.

There is no bag limit on walleye in the Pend Oreille system. For rules and entry details visit Fish and Game’s Lake Pend Oreille Angler Incentive Program website or any of the following fish head freezer locations:

McDonald’s Hudson Bay Resort, 17813 E Hudson Bay Rd, Bayview
Fish & Game Field Office, 16805 Limekiln Rd, Bayview
Garfield Bay Boat Launch, 61 W Garfield Bay Rd, Sagle
Glengary Boat Launch, Marina Rd, Sagle
Peck Landscape Supplies & Farm Store, 468215 Hwy 95, Sagle
North 40, 477181 N Hwy 95, Ponderay
Arnie’s Conoco, 32131 Hwy 200, Kootenai
Holiday Shores Resort and Cafe, 46624 Hwy 200, Hope
Hope Marine, 47392 Hwy 200, Hope
Bonner Park West, 500 Railroad Ave, Priest River
Fish & Game Regional Office, 2885 W Kathleen Ave, Coeur d’Alene (weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)


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Experimental approach focuses on fishing power

Walleye were essentially non-existent in Lake Pend Oreille ten years ago, but numbers have been rapidly increasing since 2014. The population likely originated from an illegal introduction of walleye into Noxon Reservoir in the early 1990’s. These fish moved downstream into Idaho via the Clark Fork River. Biologists now fear walleye may cause a decline in kokanee and other high-demand sportfish, such as rainbow trout, native bull trout and cutthroat trout, and bass.

Using information provided by this experimental program, biologists will evaluate how effective anglers can be at keeping walleye populations in check. The lottery will be paired with an experimental gill netting program to compare effectiveness of both approaches. Walleye harvested from gill nets will be donated to area food banks.

Producing over 35,000 eggs per pound of body weight, walleye can quickly reproduce and become a problem if not addressed early. They are also adapted to live in a variety of both lake and stream environments, making them very effective invaders.

Walleye have dramatically changed fish communities in the western United States. Canyon Ferry Reservoir in Montana provides a cautionary look at how walleye can eat themselves out of house and home. Illegally introduced in the 1980’s, walleye depleted the prey base in the reservoir, collapsing perch, rainbow trout, and white sucker populations over the next decade. Following the loss of prey, walleye condition and size dropped. Ultimately, angler satisfaction in the entire fishery declined due to walleye.

Lake Pend Oreille has long been known for its trophy rainbow trout and bull trout, having produced world records for both species. Along with being a popular sportfish, kokanee are the primary prey base for these trophy fisheries and therefore considered the backbone of the fishery. As history shows, a downturn in the kokanee population has reverberating effects across the Lake Pend Oreille food web.

Borrowing a page from lake trout management

Just over a decade ago, lake trout threatened to collapse the kokanee fishery in Lake Pend Oreille. Similar to walleye, lake trout are an introduced, top-level predator in the lake ecosystem. Since 2006, Fish and Game staff and the angling community, with support from Avista and Bonneville Power Administration, have worked to manage and suppress lake trout. Angler rewards and commercial netting were the tools used to reduce lake trout abundance.

The program is a success, as kokanee are now highly abundant and the trophy rainbow trout fishery is outstanding. A similar management approach may work to limit walleye population growth but biologists want to test this strategy before committing long-term.

LAKE PEND OREILLE’S KOKANEE POPULATION HAS BEEN SUCCESSFULLY PROTECTED FROM INTRODUCED LAKE TROUT, BUT NOW FACE A THREAT FROM WALLEYE. (MATT CORSI, IDFG)

Despite being a popular sportfish that benefit fisheries elsewhere, walleye pose a significant risk to sustaining the existing Lake Pend Oreille fishery. Trout and kokanee are particularly vulnerable prey because these species have no spiny fins for protection. Based on stomach content analysis, walleye commonly feed on kokanee in the deeper parts of the lake and yellow perch in the shallower areas.

Given what is known about walleye, it is unlikely the species could be eliminated from Lake Pend Oreille entirely. Fish and Game researchers want to find effective ways to manage this new walleye population at a low enough density that does not jeopardize the existing fishery.

Walleye will be swimming in the lake into the foreseeable future. Fortunately, walleye fishing is fun and they make excellent table fare. The walleye lottery is aimed at adding to that experience with cash rewards while directly involving anglers in Lake Pend Oreille’s fishery management.

If you have questions please call the Panhandle Regional Office at (208)769-1414.

New Burbot Fishery Opening In Far North Idaho, Thanks To Restoration Effort

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

Idaho anglers will once again have the opportunity to fish for and harvest burbot in the Kootenai River, its tributaries and Bonner Lake starting Jan. 1. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently approved fishing rules for 2019-21 that included a burbot season, allowing anglers to harvest six burbot per day with no size restrictions in those waters.

IDAHO FISHERY MANAGERS REPORT KOOTENAI RIVER BURBOT AVERAGE 16 TO 20 INCHES, BUT THERE ARE SOME UP TO 35 INCHES. FISH FOR THEM WITH BAIT ON BOTTOM. (IDFG)

This new fishing opportunity has resulted from a collaborative effort to restore burbot by the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Idaho Fish and Game, the University of Idaho, fisheries managers from British Columbia and Montana, and local communities in the Kootenai Valley.

Burbot in the Kootenai River average about 16 to 20 inches long, but fish as large as 33 to 35 inches have been observed in surveys. Burbot are most active, and spawn, in the winter months, making it the best season to fish for them. Historical reports suggest that night fishing is often most productive, particularly on shallow flats where burbot tend to congregate for feeding and spawning.

Anglers targeting burbot typically use cut bait, dead shrimp, or worms hooked to a jig or fished from the bottom.

Burbot are also known by some anglers as “ling,” “ling cod” and “eel pout,” and they are native to the Kootenai River, but fishing has been closed in Idaho since 1992 because of low populations. In fact, the population was nearly lost, plummeting to only about 50 fish in 2004. Efforts to restore the native burbot population gained headway with the signing of a Burbot Conservation Strategy in 2005 led by the Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative, a community driven natural resource collaborative.

As a result, the declining population was reversed, and enough burbot now exist to reopen a harvest fishery while meeting conservation goals. Current estimates indicate there are 40,000 to 50,000 burbot in the Kootenai River. Restoration efforts for burbot are ongoing, with more burbot projected in coming year.

Many people contributed to this project, but key elements included development and operation of a burbot hatchery along with a series of habitat restoration projects by the Kootenai Tribe. University of Idaho researchers assisted in developing hatchery practices. British Columbia provided fertilized burbot eggs from Moyie Lake. Idaho Fish and Game biologists did annual population monitoring and research along with British Columbia and Montana. Much of the work has been funded by the Bonneville Power Administration as part of their fish and wildlife mitigation program.

Anyone with questions about the new burbot season can contact Idaho Fish and Game staff in the Panhandle Regional Office at (208) 769-1414.