Outdoors

Field Reports: Priest Lake fish plan to be presented at meeting

FISHING – As a divisive debate on managing non-native lake trout with native cutthroats and popular kokanee at Priest Lake continues, Idaho Fish and Game officials will hold a public meeting Thursday in Priest River.

Biologists will present an evaluation of the fisheries and the results of opinion surveys starting at 7 p.m. at Priest River Senior Center, 339 W. Jackson Center.

Researchers already have contracted with commercial boats to survey lake trout populations using gillnets this spring.

Lake trout, also called mackinaw, have dominated the Priest Lake fishery since they overpopulated the lake in the 1980s, collapsing the kokanee and bull trout populations, IFG biologists say. 

While the lake trout fishery has become popular with many anglers, other fishermen would prefer restoring kokanee, bull trout and cutthroat fisheries, said Jim Fredericks, IFG regional fishery manager.

Bringing back kokanee and native fisheries would require gillnetting and angler incentives to significantly reduce the lake trout population, similar to what’s been done in recent years at Lake Pend Oreille.

Anglers are almost equally polarized in the debate, Fredericks said.

Lake trout are prolific, inexpensive to manage and provide a steady fishing opportunity, he said.

On the other hand, lake trout tend to dominate systems at the expense of other species, and they’re not as valuable to the recreation economy as kokanee.

Trumpter swans flock to Turnbull

WILDLIFE – A few years ago visitors were amazed to see a single trumpeter swan return decade after decade at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

But after that “Solo” male finally found a mate in 2009, trumpeters have taken hold at the refuge south of Cheney. At least 15 trumpeters were in the ponds near the refuge headquarters last week.

Pike gillnets poised at Pend Oreille River

FISHING – The gillnets are ready to go out again to catch northern pike on the Pend Oreille River.

Gillnetting that started last spring will be continued this season to maintain the pike population at numbers roughly 90 percent lower than last year at this time in Box Canyon Reservoir area.

From early March through April, crews from the Kalispel Tribe Natural Resources Department will use gillnets to remove pike from the reservoir.

Sportsmen can contribute to the pike-control effort and win big cash prizes offered in a northern pike fishing derby May 17-19, sponsored by the Kalispel Tribe. Info: (509) 447-7290. Two of the Pikepalooza events were held last year.

“Northern pike are voracious predators that pose a significant threat to native fish species,” said Bruce Bolding, WDFW warmwater fish program manager. “They can cause a great deal of ecological and economic damage.”

Last year’s gillnetting removed 5,808 northern pike, while anglers removed another 233 pike during the two fishing derbies, said Bolding, noting that the total fell just short of the 87 percent reduction goal.


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Rich Landers

Rich Landers

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