FISHING -- Coeur d'Alene Tribe fisheries researchers are extending a program through summer that pays anglers for catching and turning in northern pike from the southern third of Lake Coeur d’Alene.
The "Catch for Cash" program is part of a study on native cutthroat trout and other game fish and how they are affected by an expanding pike population in the southern part of the lake.
The program began Oct. 1 and was slated to end on May 31 and resume again in the fall.
However, program managers say they didn’t get as much data over the fall and winter as they hoped, so the program will be extended through the summer.
Idaho Fish and Game and Heyburn State Park were both involved in the decision-making process and had no objections, the Tribe said in a release.
"Our goal with the program remains the same: we want to use the data collected to better manage the fisheries populations in the lake and reduce the impact of pike on native species such as the cutthroat trout, and other game fish such as yellow perch and kokanee," said Angelo Vitale, tribal fisheries manager.
"The more tagged fish that are returned, the more information we can get about what the pike are doing in the lake and the better we’ll be able to manage the fishery."
Since the program started last fall, 39 anglers participated in the program and 211 pike were harvested, the tribe reports. About 75 percent of those fish were caught and processed in October and November.
Only a small percentage of the pike tagged for rewards were returned.
The program will continue to run through May 2017, at which point fisheries managers will look for public input and reassess the data and information gathered to determine whether to continue.
To participate, all anglers must have a valid fishing license, including a tribal fishing license in order to participate. The program requires anglers to record the approximate location each fish was harvested. For each pike returned, anglers will receive $5.
Additionally, some fish have been marked with a tag that carries the opportunity to receive $50-$500.
Tags are not visible and anglers will not be able to recognize one of these special reward fish upon capture, so anglers should turn in all eligible fish and completely fill out a report on each pike harvested.
Anglers can turn in whole pike to the check station at the Heyburn State Park Headquarters at 57 Chatcolet Road. 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 and any anglers found guilty of falsifying records for the purpose of obtaining funds fraudulently will be prosecuted and will not be eligible for further participation in the reward program.
More information on the program is posted at the check station, as well as at the three boat launches in Heyburn State Park.
Contact: Coeur d'Alene Fisheries Program, (208) 686-5302.