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A once-popular Lake Pend Oreille angling season is making a comeback after a multimillion-dollar decade of controversial efforts to revive fabled kokanee and trout fisheries from the brink of collapse. The evidence is at Granite Creek, a tributary 45 minutes by boat out of Bayview. About 130 bald eagles were hanging out near the mouth of the creek last week to feast on the remains of 200,000 kokanee spawners jamming into the tiny stream this season.
We have a lot to cover today, fishing instruction for adults, Turnbull elk hunting and the Sprague Lake Trout Derby. But first, let’s bow heads in a moment of silence for the carnage this week’s cold, wet weather is wreaking on the peak of the first hatch of pheasants and other ground-based gamebirds …
HOPE, Idaho – Working shoulder-to-shoulder aboard a commercial gillnetter, Paul Saunders and his crew plucked fish from a 900-foot net, deftly untangling snared gills and thrashing tails from the mesh. The morning’s take: 200 pink-fleshed mackinaw.
Hickey Brothers Fishery, hired out of Bailey's Harber, Wisc., push off onto Lake Pend Oreille from Hope, Idaho, to catch lake trout, a non-native predator that feeds on kokanee.
It’s getting a little harder to collect, but Idaho is still paying $15 a fish for anglers who catch and keep rainbows or lake trout from Lake Pend Oreille. “We saw some encouraging results in the kokanee numbers last year, so we’re going to keep the pressure on the rainbows and lake trout,” said Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager.
BOISE – Fish given to the region’s poor people by Idaho wildlife officials without a warning about mercury levels were more widely distributed than previously disclosed. One Washington charity that got lake trout and whitefish caught from Lake Pend Oreille said Thursday it passed hundreds of pounds to other groups.
BOISE – A North Idaho food bank gave away thousands of pounds of fish donated by the state wildlife agency without knowing about a state health department warning that eating too much of the mercury-contaminated fish could be dangerous for pregnant women and children. In 2008, the Bonner Community Food Bank in Sandpoint, along with as many as eight other groups around the region, received the lake trout and whitefish caught from Lake Pend Oreille with gillnets through an Idaho Department of Fish and Game program to restore endangered bull trout and kokanee.