THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME
Biologists take a hard look at perch numbers, and not just the ones hitting the record books
With Idaho Fish and Game biologists wrapping up their annual Lake Cascade gillnetting survey, the question on everyone’s mind is: What does the forecast look like for anglers going after record-breaking perch in 2022? Initial reports look good for another year of perch fishing on Cascade based on gillnet surveys, and despite decreases in the number of jumbo perch, overall population is still showing plenty of fish in the 10-12 inch range.
Yellow perch have put Cascade on the map as a destination fishery, sometimes weighing in at over 2 pounds and living as old as 15 years. The reservoir attracts thousands of anglers from all across the world, from backyard fish fryers to sportfish trophy hunters, each contending for a chance to haul in one of Idaho’s most sought-after game fish species.
Still setting records
In March 2021, Wisconsin angler Adam Mann broke the state certified weight record for yellow perch with a whopping 3.22-pound perch that was 16.25-inches long. More recently, Meridian angler Phil Agnew narrowly missed setting the state catch-and-release record on Oct. 3, when he hauled in a 16.5-inch perch while fishing the open water with three friends. The near-record perch was among 33 that Agnew’s group caught that day, which included several fish in the “jumbo” class that measured over 14 inches.
Anglers take less than 10 percent annually
Previous surveys have shown that roughly 25 percent of the lake’s perch die annually, with less than 10 percent of that attributed to angler harvest. In addition to routine tagging studies and population monitoring, Fish and Game biologists are closely evaluating angler preferences, effort, and harvest in Lake Cascade.
“Anglers should look forward to another great year of fishing on Lake Cascade in 2022. In our recent gill netting survey, nearly one out of every four perch caught exceeded 13 inches – which is similar to last year. Although we continue to see a gradual decline in overall numbers of ‘jumbo’ perch, we are starting to see an uptick in numbers of 10 – 12 inch perch, which hasn’t occurred since 2013,” said Regional Fisheries Biologist, Mike Thomas.
“Combined with recent age and growth studies, the data suggests that for each yellow perch harvested by an angler, two are dying of natural causes in Lake Cascade,” Thomas said.
Biologists are continuing surveys
Fish and Game biologists have been working throughout the year, actively monitoring perch harvest numbers via several methods of evaluation.
“If you’ve been out on the lake this summer, you’ve probably been stopped and asked a few questions about your fishing experience,” said Mike Thomas. “We will continue to conduct these surveys throughout the ice fishing season in 2022.”
Anglers can also expect to see a lot of orange “IDFG” buoys on the lake next year, as a new graduate study kicks off with the University of Idaho that will look at interactions between perch, pikeminnow, and bass to evaluate factors limiting survival of juvenile perch.
The information gathered provides managers with important knowledge about Lake Cascade’s sport fishery, such as predation, disease, changes in habitat, angler harvest, and mortality from other natural causes.
Biologists are continuing to tag fish, roughly a thousand a year, to monitor how many are being hauled in by anglers.
The surveys suggest that Lake Cascade will remain one of the finest perch fisheries in the world, with size structure that is unparalleled.
Anglers will also be able to enjoy ice fishing access this season thanks to several access sites around the lake. In addition to this outstanding perch fishery, ice anglers can also expect some large rainbow trout, and next spring and summer, kokanee salmon and smallmouth bass.
For further information about Lake Cascade and other fisheries in the McCall area, contact the McCall Fish and Game office at (208) 634-8137 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s more about perch fishing on Lake Cascade.
Correction, November 5, 2021, 1:20 p.m.: This press release was initially mistakenly attributed to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife because the editor is scatterbrained. It actually originated with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, information that has been corrected at the top of the post.