and tribal fish managers are winning the battle against invasive northern pike
on a section of the Pend Oreille River in northeast Washington, but they don't
expect to declare victory anytime soon.
the fourth straight year, crews from the Kalispel Tribe Natural Resources
Department will use gill nets to remove non-native pike from Box Canyon
Reservoir and work with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to
monitor the results.
in previous years, the netting operation will run five days per week through
March and April, even though fish managers estimate they have already removed
more than 90 percent of the northern pike from the reservoir.
May, followup index netting is conducted to assess the effect that the
gill-netting, which has primarily targeted northern pike spawning grounds, has
had on the overall population and on the production of juveniles. The adult
pike prefer flooded riverside grass land for spawning in late winter and early
spring. Fish tagging helped state and tribal biologists identify some 26
primary spawning sites along the Pend Oreille, many between Cusick and Usk.
pike are voracious predators that pose a significant threat to native and game
fish species," said Bruce Bolding, WDFW warmwater fish program manager.
"We can't stop these fish from moving into Washington waters from Idaho,
but we're going to do everything we can to keep their numbers as low as
key goal is to keep northern pike from moving downstream from the Pend Oreille
River into the Columbia River, where they could affect salmon and steelhead
populations, Bolding said. Those salmon and steelhead stocks include threatened
and endangered fish protected under the Endangered Species Act.
conducted by WDFW and KNRD between 2004 and 2011 documented a rapid increase in
the number of pike in Box Canyon Reservoir and a significant decline in
abundance of other fish species.
said gillnetting during early spring has proven to be the most effective method
of reducing northern pike. Between 2012 and 2014, more than 16,000 fish (38,000
pounds) were removed by netting.
addition, anglers harvested a total of 334 northern pike during
"PikePalooza" fishing derbies sponsored by KNRD, which offered more
than $20,000 in cash and prizes over the past three years.
Olson, KNRD Fisheries Conservation Program manager, said the tribe will not
conduct similar fishing derbies this year, because the numbers of northern pike
have been reduced so far.
looks like we’re been really effective,” at reducing pike numbers in the Pend
Oreille River reservoir created by Box Canyon, Olson said. The Pend Oreille
flows west out of northern Idaho, then turns north in northeasternmost
Washington before running briefly into Canada and later feeding into the
Columbia River along the Washington-British Columbia border.
expect sport angler catch rates for northern pike in Box Canyon Reservoir to
remain low," Olson said. "However, bass fishing can be exceptional,
and populations of brown trout and panfish are showing signs of
smallmouth bass, a non-native species, are a popular fishing target. The pike
control program is designed to take the pressure off bull trout, which are ESA
listed, westslope cutthroat trout, suckers, white fish and minnow species that
are all native stocks.
and tribal fishery managers encourage anglers to harvest as many northern pike
as they can from both Box Canyon and Boundary reservoirs. Boundary Dam’s
reservoir is north of Box Canyon (downstream)
encourages anglers to harvest northern pike, which are classified as a
prohibited species so pike caught must be dead before removing them from the
vicinity of the waterway. There is no daily nor possession limit, and no
minimum size. Small or skinny pike, sometimes stunted by overpopulation, will
still reproduce and cause problems, according to WDFW.
live northern pike from one waterway and releasing them in another is illegal.
Such transportation is one of the methods by which northern pike were
introduced to the Pend Oreille. Illegal releases into the Flathead, Bitterroot
and Clark Fork river systems in Montana are believed to be a main source, with
fish suspected to have migrated downstream into Idaho’s Lake Pend Oreille and
then into Washington.
of the pike are coming down in big flow years,” Olson said.
the largest population of northern pike is in Box Canyon Dam Reservoir, the
species is also in Boundary Dam Reservoir further north on the Pend Oreille
River. Anglers have also occasionally reported catching pike in the Columbia
River just north of the Canada border, near Northport and just upstream of
Kettle Falls, and in the Spokane River from Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho to Long
Lake in Spokane County.
more information about northern pike in Washington and annual summaries of the
project seehttp://wdfw.wa.gov/ais/esox_lucius/ .
CBB, Dec. 16, 2011, “Washington Gears Up To Stop Non-Native Northern Pike From
Invading Columbia Basin Salmon Country” http://www.cbbulletin.com/414775.aspx