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PikePalooza continues suppression effort on Pend Oreille River

FISHING – PikePalooza is offering more than $5,000 in cash and prizes for anglers who catch northern pike in various categories during the Friday-Sunday (May 17-19) event on the Pend Oreille River.

The event on the Box Canyon stretch of the river is sponsored by the Kalispel Tribe.

Info: kalispeltribe.com/northern-pike.

The derby is part of the program to reduce numbers of the non-native species from the river.

This year, the tribe has removed around 6,000 northern pike using gillnets in the second year of a pike suppression and monitoring operation.

“The majority of these fish are age 3 or less,” said Jason Olson, the tribe’s fish conservation manager.

Pike suppression resumed last week after fish managers surveyed the river and found the spring netting had not reduced pike numbers to their target numbers, especially in the north end of the reservoir.  

The highest number caught in nets last week were a dozen in South Everett and Tiger sloughs, the tribe reported.

This spring's post-suppression survey involved a total of 197 that caught a total of 410 northern pike in a week.

However, for the first time in years of surveys and two seasons of suppression, no large pike were caught in the Box Canyon stretch survey, the tribe reports.

Sign up for Tundra Swan Festival, tour and speakers


OUTFIELD – The celebrities already have arrived, as at least 200 tundra swans were jammed into a creek-thawed ribbon of open water in the otherwise frozen Calispell Lake on Wednesday.

The lake should be open and even more birds on hand for the annual Pend Oreille Valley Tundra Swan Festival activities March 16, based out of the the Camas Wellness Center, 1981 N. LeClerc Road in Usk.

The festival greets hundreds of swans that migrate through the Pend Oreille River Valley in February and March, resting and feeding on Calispell Lake, designated an Important Bird Area, during the journey to their breeding grounds.

Visitors will be bused from the center to view the swans at Calispell Lake followed by a lunch and presentation by bird and wildlife experts on a range of topics.

Cost: $10 adults, $5 for children under 13.

Pre-register by March 8.

Presenters during lunch include:

Gary Blevins, Spokane Falls Community College.

TOPIC: “What does Audubon Christmas Bird Count data tell us about how climate change is affecting bird population?”

Bart George, Wildlife Biologist III, Kalispel Tribe of Indians.

TOPIC: “The Selkirk Mountains Forest Carnivore Survey, 2012 - 2013”

Matt Berger, Wildlife Project Manager, Kalispel Tribe of Indians.

TOPIC: “Kalispel Tribal Lands Bobolink 2012 Project update, in cooperation with Audubon Washington”

Mike Lithgow, Director, Pend Oreille County Community Planning Department.

 TOPIC: “Birds on the Water: Legends of the River”

The festival is sponsored by the Natural Resources Department of the Kalispel Tribe of Indians and the Pend Oreille River Tourism Alliance.

May pike derby part of pike control on Pend Oreille River

FISHING — Northern pike gillnetting that started last spring on the Pend Oreille River will be continued this year in the effort to keep the pike population roughly 90 percent lower than it was at this point last year in Box Canyon Reservoir area.

Starting in early March, crews from the Kalispel Tribe Natural Resources Department will use gillnets to remove the invasive species from the reservoir and will work with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to monitor the results.

  • Sportsmen will be rewarded for contributing to the pike control effort with big cash prizes offered in a northern pike fishing derby May 17-19, sponsored by the Kalispel Tribe.  Info: (509) 447-7290. Two of the Pikepalooza events were held last year.

"Northern pike are voracious predators that pose a significant threat to native fish species," said Bruce Bolding, WDFW warmwater fish program manager. "They can cause a great deal of ecological and economic damage."

Click "continue reading" for more details from the WDFW media release posted this morning.

Anglers can cash in at Pend Oreille’s Pikepalooza

FISHING CONTESTS — Sign-up is underway for the season’s second Pikepalooza fishing derby on the Pend Oreille River, Friday through next Sunday, sponsored by the Kalispel Tribe.

Prizes up to $1,000 are being offered in a variety of categories to make the contest interesting to anglers of all ages. Categories include most fish, longest fish, total length of catch, smallest fish and tagged fish.

In addition, each fish caught gives a participant a ticket for raffle drawings.

During the first event June 29-July 1, about 80 anglers endured high water and windy conditions to compete catch 81 northern pike and compete for $3,000 in cash prizes and more than $500 in raffle prizes.

  • Josh Whitney won $1,000 for catching the most northern pike —14.
  • Dale Smith won $500 for catching the largest pike of the derby — 46.4 inches long.

There’s no entry fee, but participants must pre-register before they start fishing. Online registration closes at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Anglers can register on site at check stations.

The event includes the river from the Idaho state line to the Boundary Dam forebay.

Even though most of the non-native pike were gillnetted out of the Box Canyon Reservoir portion of the river this spring, pike are still available to be caught and new fish are likely coming downstream from Montana and Idaho.

Info: www.kalispeltribe.com/northern-pike.

Pikepalooza proves Pend Oreille River still holds whoppers

FISHING — The gillnets didn't get all the northern pike in the Pend Oreille River.

This spring, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department and Kalispel Tribe used gillnets to remove about 87 percent of the non-native northern pike in the Box Canyon section of the river downstream from Newport. (See story)

But results from the June 29-July 1 Pikepalooza organized by the Kalispel Tribe indicate that serious anglers not only can catch a number of northern pike in the river on an outing, they also can catch some whoppers.

  • Josh Whitney won a whopping $1,000 for catching the most northern pike — 14 — during the tournament.
  • Dale Smith won $500 for catching the largest pike of the derby — 46.4 inches long!

The tribe reports that 138 anglers pre-registered and an additional 70 anglers signed up on site.

But water and weather conditions limited participation to about 80 anglers who turned out to compete for $3,000 in cash prizes and more than $500 in raffle prizes.

Although anglers faced tough fishing conditions over the weekend including high water, wake restrictions, closed boat launches, and hit-and-miss weather, the 80 anglers harvested 81 northern pike, reports Jason Connor, the Tribe's fisheries biologist.

  • 33 people registered at least one pike.
  • Pike from 286 mm (11.25”) to 1178 mm (46.4”) were harvested with the majority (74%) being 1-2 year olds less than 18 inches. 
  • No tagged pike were caught, so prizes will roll over to the next Pikepalooza event set for Aug. 3-5.

Read on for the complete list of prize winners.

Big cash prizes await PO River anglers in PikePalooza

FISHING  – Sign-up is underway for the Pike Palooza fishing derby on the Pend Oreille River, June 29-July 1, sponsored by the Kalispel Tribe.

Prizes up to $1,000 are being offered in a variety of categories to make the contest interesting to anglers of all ages. Categories include most fish, longest fish, total length of catch, smallest fish and tagged fish.

In addition, each fish caught give a participant a ticket for raffle drawings.

There’s no entry fee, but participants must pre-register before they start fishing. Online registration closes at 5 p.m. Wednesday (June 27). Anglers can register on site at check stations.

The event includes the river from the Idaho state line to the Boundary Dam forebay. 

Even though most of the non-native pike were gillnetted out of the Box Canyon Reservoir portion of the river this spring, pike are still available to be caught and new fish are likely coming downstream from Montana and Idaho.

If an angler catches a Washington state record northern — a long shot, agreed — a professional taxidermist will produce a replica of the fish for the contestant.

Info:  www.kalispeltribe.com/northern-pike.

  • A second PikePalooza is set for Aug. 3-5.

Educators invited to Kalispel Encampment; credit offered

NATIVE AMERICANS — Enrollment is underway for the Kalispel Encampment, an educator's workshop June 28-30 with the Kalispel Tribe of Indians and the David Thompson Bicentennials Partnership.

Educators will bask in the Native American history and culture as it meshed with the fur-trade era in the encampment along the Clark Fork River near Thompson Falls.

Educators can earn credit, renewal units or clock-hours for requirements in Montana, Idaho, and Washington.

The general public is also invited, but space is limited.

Pre-register at the Montana History website.

Read on for details:



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.


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.

Hearing on Spokane Tribe’s casino proposal is certain to generate a lot of heat

View Larger Map

In case you didn't know, tonight is the public hearing hosted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs regarding the Spokane Tribe's impact statement for a proposed casino and resort on the edge of Airway Heights.

The hearing starts at Sunset Elementary School in Airway Heights. The map shows the location. It starts at 6 p.m.

If you go expect plenty of back and forth on how and why this is either a good jobs-producing proposal or a dangerous precedent and a likely encroachment on Fairchild Air Force Base. Officially and completely honestly, OfficeHours is taking no sides on this issue. We wish both sides stick the facts and avoid overblown rhetoric.

For a summary of the proposal and the EIS, it's at this link.

Economic impact of US Boxing women’s team trials to be around $750,000

The people who track such things estimate next week's U.S. Olympics women's boxing team trials, to be held at the Northern Quest in Airway Heights, will add about $750,000 to the local economy.

Nearly all of that will be from money spent on food, lodging and other services by people coming to the area. A story in the SR today gives a full rundown.

For a quick summary of the event and a chance to learn about the 24 athletes who will compete, check out this link from USA Boxing: usaboxing.org/events/9250

Kalispell Tribe calls Pend Oreille pike ‘disaster’ to native fisheries

INVASIVE FISHERIES — The Kalispell Tribe's top Fish and Wildlife official called it like he sees it in a presentation on the invasion of northern pike into the Pend Oreille River. He was speaking this month to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

Deane Osterman, the tribe’s executive director for Natural Resources, said that the introduction of northern pike to Box Canyon Reservoir has quickly become “a long-term disaster to our native fisheries.”

A story by the Columbia Basin Bulletin detail's Osterman's presentation and reasoning behind the Northeast Washington tribe's effort to turn back a wave of invasive northern pike that has devastated local fish populations. Joining the concern of state and federal biologist, Osterman warns that other areas of the Columbia River basin could suffer the same consequence — and salmon and steelhead runs could be impacted.

Referring to the Columbia's confluence with the Okanogan River, he said;

“That particular piece of water is ideal as well” for nonnative pike to flourish, Osterman said. If pike got a foothold there, they very well could tarnish salmon recovery investments made by the Bonneville Power Administration and channeled through the Council to the Colville Tribes. BPA funds the NPCC’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program as mitigation for impact of the federal Columbia-Snake river hydro system on fish and wildlife.

Indian gaming revenue in 2010 came in the same as the year before

It's worth noting that data recently gathered by the National Indian Gaming Commission says Indian gaming revenue figures for 2010 remained unchanged from the year before.

The federal commision noted Indian gaming generated gross revenues of $26.5 billion during 2010. That's the same as the year before. Its summary report can be found here.
Some other key points worth considering:
  • The NIGC looks at seven regions for gaming by tribes. Of those, the largest growth in '09 and '10 occurred in the Oklahoma Region and the Portland Region. The Northwest (Portland) region includes 50 gaming operations across Washington, Idaho and Oregon. In this area the major tribes with gaming are the Kalispels (Northern Quest), The Spokanes (two casinos) and the Coeur d'Alene (Coeur d'Alene Casino and Resort).  
  • The gains for the Portland region were 6 percent in 2009 and 5 percent in 2010. The Oklahoma-Texas region also reported a 5 percent gain in 2010; no other region had a higher gain in that year.
  • In 2010, 55 percent of Indian gaming operations reported gaming revenue less than $25 million. Of tribes making money in 2010, roughly 62 percent had gaming revenue less than $10 million.
  • For 2010, 49 percent of Indian gaming operations reported an an increase in gaming revenues. Of these operations, approximately 10 percent showed more than a 50 percent gain over 2009. 
  • Approximately 51 percent of gaming operators reported a gaming revenue decrease from their 2009 gaming revenues; however, three quarters of these operations experienced decreases of less than 10 percent.
The report looks at financial statements submitted by 236 gaming tribes. “In this challenging economic climate, tribal gaming remains a stable and reliable tribal economic enterprise that generates jobs and revenues for the betterment of Indian communities,” stated NIGC Chairwoman Tracie Stevens.
The table here shows the 2009 and 2010 revenue figures for the seven regions monitored by NIGC.

Northwest Power Planning Council to hear about Pend Oreille pike

FISHERIES — Northern pike will be on the program when the Northwest Power and Conservation Council holds its Aug.  9-10 meeting at the Kalispel Tribe’s Northern Quest Resort in Airway Heights.

On the meeting agenda is the Kalispel Tribe's report on the problem of invasive northern pike in the Pend Oreille River. The report starts at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

Among other items, at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, Dr. Pete McGrail of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will report on progress with an experiment to inject carbon dioxide into basalt formations deep underground as a means of reducing emissions into the atmosphere.  The experiment site is at Wallula near the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers.


PDO Water Trail to be unveiled at open house

BOATING — Three years in the making, a Pend Oreille River Water Trail plan covering 70 miles of the river in northeastern Washington will be served up — along with snacks and beverages — at an open house meeting Thursday (Aug. 4), 5 p.m.-7 p.m., at the Camas Center, 1821 N. LeClerc Rd., northeast of Usk, Wash. (See map.)

This the plan focuses on the Pend Oreille County stretch of the river, including Z Canyon and Peewee Falls. The entire river is 130 miles long originating from Lake Pend Oreille in the Idaho Panhandle flowing northwesterly — unusual for a major U.S. River — until it joins the Columbia River in southeastern British Columbia.  

Maps of the Water Trail will be on display and smaller maps will be shared.

Kayaks will be displayed by Bear Naked Adventures of Newport, Wash..

Other exhibitors include U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, PORTA, WSU Extension, Map Metrics, National Park Service, Kalispel Tribe and Pend Oreille PUD — all partners of interest to future Water Trail users.

The concept plan for the Pend Oreille River Water Trail will be available.

Take a survey during the August public comment period.

Info: Susan Harris of PORTA (509) 447-5286, email susan@porta-us.com.

Group against Spokane Tribe casino project launches website

A month ago we wrote about efforts by some West Plains business owners and others in opposition to a proposed Spokane Indian casino and resort.

The group, Citizens Against Casino Expansion, have launched a website to focus their concerns about the project, which they say has potential negative effects on Airway Heights and Fairchild Air Force Base.

Irv Zakheim, owner of Zak Designs, is heading the group. Among concerns, the group says the area already has a casino, the Northern Quest Resort and Casino, in Airway Heights. It was opened by the Kalispel Tribe.

The Spokane Tribe's project would be on land a few miles away. The Airway Heights City Council have started the process of annexing the 145 acres owned by the Spokane Tribe.

The opposition site is www.citizensagainstcasinos.com.

“This project is bad for the West Plains, bad for the future of Fairchild Air Force Base and could lead to more off-reservation gaming in our state. Our group plans to fight it aggressively and we’re inviting citizens to get involved. The community has a voice in this process and we can tell the BIA we don’t want it," Zakheim wrote in a press release.

The Spokane Tribe says the project would provide significant numbers of new jobs and would provide economic stimulus both for Airway Heights and for tribal members. It's also had officials review the project and have been told the development poses no direct problems for the air base.

Before the casino can move forward the Spokanes first need federal approval, followed by approval by the governor's office.

Tonight: Last of two public meetings on Pend Oreille River northern pike

FISHING — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife  and the Kalispel Tribe of Indians Natural Resources Department  will hold the second of two area public meetings tonight to discuss non-native northern pike in Pend Oreille River and other Eastern Washington waters, and take public input on options to control them and minimize their impacts on native fish.

A pair of Sunday Outdoors stories detailed the dilemma with the boom fishery and the plans for more gillnetting surveys, which start next week.

Tonight's meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Center Place, 2426 N. Discovery Place, in Spokane Valley

Read on for more details about the meetings and surveys that are monitoring the boom of pike in the river.

David Thompson detailed in Nisbet talk

ADVENTURE — Historian and author Jack Nisbet of Spokane will give a slide presentation on "David Thompson among the Kalispel" this month in the cultural heart of the tribe's reservation.

Although the Lewis and Clark Expedition had garnered much of the publicity a few years earlier, the English-born fur agent and explorer had extensive dealings with tribes in this region in the 1809-1812 period Nisbet will cover.
The two-hour program will start Tuesday, Jan. 25, at 6 p.m. at the Camas Wellness Center, 1821 N. LeClerc Road in Usk. Admission is free, with a non-perishable food bank donation requested. Pre-register by calling (509) 447-2401 or emailing cmack@wsu.edu.
Nisbet will trace Thompson’s journeys, try to understand his relationship with Kalispel people and look at the tribe’s influence on his large maps of our region.
Nisbet, a teacher and naturalist, has authored several works that explore the human and natural history of the region, including two books on Thompson and his recent book, "The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest."