Some lucky angler could pull a rainbow trout worth $1,000 out of Lake Pend Oreille this summer.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game recently implanted micro-tags into the heads of 100 rainbow trout. The tags are worth $50 to $1,000 each. They’re too small to be seen, but can be detected with a scanner. To find out if they’ve caught a winner, anglers should turn the fish heads into IDFG’s angler incentive program.
At least five of the tags are worth $1,000. The total payout for the program will be about $20,000. Avista Corp., which operates dams on the Clark Fork River, is paying the cash rewards through an environmental remediation program.
Giving anglers incentives to catch rainbow trout is part of a long-running effort to boost kokanee populations in Lake Pend Oreille. Rainbow trout feed on young kokanee.
“Ultimately, we want to manage the lake for the trophy rainbow trout fishery that made it world famous,” said Jim Fredericks, IDFG’s regional fish manager, “but we need to reduce rainbows….or we risk losing the kokanee.”
Since kokanee are a food source for rainbow trout, the rainbows need a healthly kokanee population to thrive in the long term, Fredericks said. The department is also working to reduce populations of lake trout, another kokanee predator.
The department continues to pay a $15 bounty on rainbow trout caught from Lake Pend Oreille that are 13 inches or longer. Lake trout of any size are also eligible for the bounty. People who want to participate in the angler incentive program should turn their fish heads into the following locations: Holiday Shores Marina, Hope Marine Services, Anchor Gas (Garfield Bay), Hudson’s Bay Marina in Bayview, IDFG’s Bayview Research Station or IDFG’s regional office in Coeur d’Alene, 2885 W. Kathleen Ave.