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Gerrard rainbows still thrill anglers

Richter holds a 31.5-pound rainbow.
Richter holds a 31.5-pound rainbow.

Even shore anglers have shot at Lake Pend Oreille’s famous fish

Sandpoint fly fisher Aaron Richter has firsthand evidence that trophy Gerrard rainbows are still available in the Lake Pend Oreille system.

Richter’s best catch was a 31-pound, 42-inch long rainbow while fly fishing near a Clark Fork River tributary in 2010.

“These trophy fish are a Lake Pend Oreille angler’s equivalent to steelhead,” he said.

“They make themselves available to fly fishers once a year as they head toward stream spawning areas.”

Spring runoff water conditions can be tough, but the rewards can be huge during the short window of opportunity, said Richter, who grew up in Hope and has been a lifelong student of the fishery.

“I’m pleased the new (2013) regulations will continue to allow us to fish the tributaries during spring while prohibiting harvest,” he said. “Since 2006, anglers were asked to bonk these trophy fish if they caught them for the good of the kokanee and the overall fishery, and a lot of people did.”

Richter, 33, said he’s “a huge advocate” of the new rules that will close rainbow harvest in the Clark Fork River and tributaries from Dec. 1 through the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.

“These trophy fish have genetics we need to preserve,” he said.