Fisheries managers in eastern Washington have been
collecting growing evidence that invasive northern pike have established a
presence in Lake Roosevelt, presenting a growing threat to salmon and steelhead
reaches in the Columbia River system.
In early March, an angler provided a photograph of about two
dozen dead pike that was taken in the Kettle River Arm that flows into Lake
Roosevelt. It appeared that the pike were stranded in a shallow reach of the
river arm that became dewatered as Lake Roosevelt was drawn down, said John
Whalen, the Spokane-based regional fisheries manager for the Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Since then, there have been have additional reports of
anglers catching pike in the same area, Whalen said.
“Anglers have been catching pike, particularly in the Kettle
Falls area … and a shallow area called Marcus Flats,” he said. “We had some
reports last year as well.”
A pike suppression netting effort has been underway for the
last few years in the Pend Oreille River near Newport, Wash., in an effort to
curb chances of them moving downstream into Columbia River waters, such as Lake
Whalen said the recent evidence of pike reaching Lake
Roosevelt may prompt adjustments in suppression strategies.
“We do want to get more information about what we’re seeing
with pike in Lake Roosevelt,” he said, adding there will be additional
assessments to learn more about pike movements, particularly in the Kettle
One approach would involve fitting adult pike with radio
transmitters in order to track where they go to spawn, which can greatly
improve the success of netting efforts.
Whalen said pike were detected in the Pend Oreille River’s
Box Canyon around 2009, which led to the suppression efforts.
“We had some really serious concerns about how pike could affect
a lot of efforts we’re working on for salmon and steelhead restoration,” Whalen
said. “We want to get a handle as best we can…Obviously, we don’t want to see
them heading down the Columbia River.”
Pike are voracious predators that can quickly become
dominant in waters that they invade. While pike have developed an angling
constituency in parts of Montana where there are some protective regulations
for the species, Washington has adopted a zero tolerance approach, officially
regarding pike as an aquatic invasive species.
There are no size or possession limits for pike, and
Washington regulations require that they must be dead before being removed from
the immediate vicinity of where they were caught. Anglers are also being
encouraged to kill and keep any pike that they catch in Lake Roosevelt or the
Pend Oreille River.
More information on northern pike can be found at:
-- CBB, Feb. 27, 2015, “Fish Managers Show Success In
Keeping Pend Oreille Northern Pike From Moving Into Columbia River” http://www.cbbulletin.com/433285.aspx
-- 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