Anglers last year enjoyed catching an average of 1.2 fish per hour – the highest overall catch rate on Lake Pend Oreille since 1953, according to the Idaho Fish and Game Department.
“Kokanee provided a catch rate of four fish per hour of angling followed by warmwater fish at two fish per hour,” said Andy Dux, Panhandle Region fisheries manager.
Rainbow trout catch rates were nearly a fish per two hours of angling, good for a trophy species that occurs at lower density, he said.
From near collapse 15 years ago, the Lake Pend Oreille fishery has revived mostly through efforts to curtail numbers of lake trout.
An angler survey estimated 200,000 hours of angler effort occurred from March 2014 through February 2015, Dux said.
Updates on these surveys and other research will be presented in the Fish and Game Department’s annual “State of the Lake” public meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Ponderay Events Center by the Bonner Mall north of Sandpoint. Info: (208) 769-1414.
The presentation will include a summary of activities over the past year, fish population status updates, a review of new fishing rules and activities planned for 2016.
“There will be time for questions from the audience,” Dux said.
Predation by lake trout was the primary factor that limited kokanee recovery for more than a decade, he said.
Aggressive efforts to remove lake trout involved using commercial netting equipment and paying anglers a $15 reward for each lake trout turned in.
The efforts dramatically reduced the size of the lake trout population and allowed a rapid expansion of the kokanee population, Dux said.
“Kokanee not only provide a popular fishery but also are the primary prey source for trophy species, such as rainbow trout and bull trout,” he said.
Matt Corsi, the department’s head fisheries research biologist at Lake Pend Oreille, said adult kokanee were less abundant last year than in 2014, but that all younger age classes of kokanee were strong.
Even with fewer adults in 2015, there were still plenty of fish to provide good kokanee fishing, he said.
Abundant younger age classes of kokanee is promising news for kokanee anglers as well as trophy trout anglers.
“Younger kokanee are major contributors to the diet of rainbow trout and bull trout, indicating that food availability for trophy species is good,” Dux said.
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