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Lake Spokane carp removal also targets northern pike

Northern pike. (File)
Northern pike. (File)

FISHERIES – A two-week project to remove non-native carp from Lake Spokane started on Monday, and state fisheries managers are tapping the opportunity to target invasive northern pike, too.

Avista is partnering with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the University of Idaho to remove carp from shallow and weedy areas in Lake Spokane. Avista is required to improve the water quality of the reservoir behind Long Lake Dam to fulfill federal dam relicensing requirements.

Different methods of carp removal are being tested, including electrofishing and gill nets. Gill nets will be placed overnight in shallow waters and marked with buoys on each end of the net.

Electrofishing may be conducted both during the day and at night, when fish tend to be closer to shore feeding. Anyone on or near the lake is likely to see an electrofishing boat with bright lights and may hear generator noise.

Northern pike also are being caught and removed from the lake, said Chris Donley, the state’s lowland fisheries manager.

“We are catching a large number of female spawning pike,” he said. “We caught 160 carp the first night and 60 pike.”

Some anglers who enjoy fishing for pike that are ranging to more than 40 inches long are complaining about pike removal, Donley said.

“There’s no way around it for us,” he said. “We have a statewide policy that northern pike are a prohibited species. We encourage anglers to harvest them when they’re caught. If you do harvest one, it must be dead before leaving the riparian area.”

Marc Divens, department warmwater fisheries researcher, said the mesh on the nets is so large that they’re not catching many bass or walleyes. “Very few bass have been killed,” he said Wednesday. “We release any bass we catch.”

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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