In North Idaho, where northern pike are tolerated by state fisheries managers and prized by many anglers, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe has been clamping down for two years on the predators at the south end of Lake Coeur d’Alene.
Gillnets are being deployed again this year as fisheries biologists begin another season of a multi-year project targeting northern pike in order to improve survival of spawning cutthroat trout.
To help with the research, the tribe is offering incentive rewards to anglers who turn in pike caught in the southern third of the lake.
The Coeur d’Alene Tribe and Idaho Department of Fish and Game are removing northern pike from Windy Bay while cutthroats are migrating to reduce predation on the trout before they have a chance to spawn in Lake Creek.
The pike are netted and the survivors are tagged and transported north to Cougar Bay and released where pike are less likely to prey on native cutthroats. The pike also are more readily available to anglers at Cougar Bay, the tribe says in a media release.
During net sampling, biologists check to see if pike previously tagged and released in Cougar Bay have returned to Windy Bay.
“The hope is that the pike have remained on the north end of the lake where fishing pressure is high,” the tribe says.
In 2015, netting teams captured 311 northern pike in Windy Bay over a seven-week period.
In 2016, they removed 161 using the same methods.
“It’s gotten much more difficult to catch pike in Windy Bay, so this leads us to believe that the vast majority of pike in the bay have been removed,” said Angelo Vitale, the tribe’s fisheries program manager.
Anglers who catch pike in the southern third of the lake can receive $5 per fish, said Heather Keen, Coeur d’Alene Tribe public relations director. “Additionally, some fish have been marked with a tag that carries the opportunity to receive $50-$500.”
To participate, anglers must have a valid fishing license, including a tribal fishing license. The program requires anglers to record the approximate location each fish was harvested.
Since the tags aren’t visible, the fish must be turned in and a report must be filed before the fish is scanned for a tag.
“Anglers can turn in whole pike to the check station at the Heyburn State Park Headquarters at 57 Chatcolet Rd.,” Keen said. “Tribal staff will examine and collect data on the stomach contents of the harvested pike and then donate the remains to the Birds of Prey Northwest raptor rehabilitation facility in St. Maries.”
Pike harvested outside of the target area are not eligible for the reward. More information is posted at the Heyburn boat launches.
Info: Coeur d’Alene Fisheries Program, (208) 686-5302.
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