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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Gillnetting to end in Columbia by 2017

FISHING — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has voted to phase out gillnet fishing on the main stem of the Columbia River, relegating the primary commercial fishing tool to tributaries and bays.

Under the new policy adopted Saturday, the use of gillnets will be phased out by 2017 in nontribal fisheries on the Columbia Basin below Bonneville Dam. The policy also includes commitments to increase the number of stocked fish in areas off the main Columbia River channel to offset reductions to commercial fishing opportunities.

Oregon adopted similar rules in December.

Recreational fishers say gillnets are harmful to the recovery of endangered salmon. But commercial fishers say it’ll be impossible for them to earn a living by fishing only in the limited areas where they’ll be allowed to use gillnets.

Pike reduced in Pend Oreille River, but still available

FISHING — More than 5,200 northern pike have been gillnetted out of the Box Canyon portion of the Pend Oreille River downstream from Newport this spring.  But anglers still are likely to catch them, says Jason Connor, the Kalispel Tribe's pike management project leader. 

Here's his report going into the Memorial Day weekend.

We are still grinding away at the netting. Catch has been down, but consistent. Up to about 5,200 pike removed to date. We are now catching far more juvenile fish aged 1-2. We haven't seen a lot of anglers out on the water lately. The River is still really high (2040 ft) which is 9 feet above base flows. Water is also still relatively cold.

The Clearwater Bass Anglers from Lewiston held a bass tournament last weekend but I haven't heard how they did.

There are still fish to catch in sloughs that are traditionally fished right now. As the water warms and elevation drops in June, I would target the weed beds in the main channel in the central part of the reservoir.

If I were headed out, I would fish boundary reservoir launching at Metaline Park and heading upstream. The side channels and backwaters between there and around Selkirk School surely have fish in them.

Pend Oreille River pike issue: updates, background, correction

FISHERIES — I've received several phone calls and messages following today's update on the Pend Oreille pike fishery in my Outdoors column.

I've enjoyed catchign northern pike as much as many of you, but several pike enthusiasts say I'm a spokesman for the tribes who are actively controlling walleye and northern pike.

Well, I'm not. I'm merely reporting the numbers and facts as I get them. I've also reported the opposition to the efforts and the rates of fishing interest based on pike increases.  It's there and more will come.

What my critics really mean is that I'm not ranting on their behalf. 

These are the same people who are telling me that angry pike anglers are out there moving northern pike into all sorts of trout waters.  "There are pike everywhere now," one man told me today.

Great. 

Pike have been moved illegally to infest about 100 waters in Montana and people have been moving them illegally for years in Idaho.

Maybe the top question is this: If these selfish pitiful excuses for sportsmen have illegally moved northern pike into every water imaginable, what more do they want?

I'll keep reporting the facts and I'm keen to share different opinions, but don't ask me to respect anglers of that ilk.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

The newspaper print version of my Thursday outdoors column has a confusing error as updated the current effort to reduce the number of northern pike in the Pend Oreille River behind Box Canyon Dam.

I've corrected the error in my column as it's posted on the web.

In giving the number for the bycatch of non-target species, I substituted "northern pike" for "yellow perch."  Pike, of course, are the targt species.

Here are links to some of the previous stories and background I've compiled about the northern pike issue in the Pend Oreille River:

April 12: Anglers encouraged to fish for pike.  (Includes public boat launch guide for Box Canyon Reservoir)

April 8Gillnets set to remove 5,700 pike from Pend Oreille River.

March 29: Officials take stance against northern pike, ask for angler help.

Feb. 12: Northern pike forecast: fewer, farther between.

April 17, 2011: Biologist ponder options for PDO River pike boom.

April 17, 2011: Pike prompt three surveys on Pend Oreille River.

June 6, 2012: Pike boom in Pend Oreille River.

June 22, 2008: Pike explosion lures anglers, researchers.