population of northern pike that is taking up residency in Lake Roosevelt, the
reservoir created by Grand Coulee Dam, has spread south this year and has a
team of experts saying that suppression of the fish could easily have begun a
year or two earlier than it did.
native to midwestern states and a big part of Canada and Alaska, in the
Northwest northern pike are considered invasive and their spread could be
disastrous for areas of the Columbia River basin home to threatened and
endangered anadromous salmon and steelhead, according to Chris Donley, Region 1
fish program manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
along with Holly McLellan, principal fisheries biologist with the Confederated
Tribes of the Colville Reservation, described to Northwest Power and
Conservation Council members at its meeting in Vancouver, Washington July 12,
how northern pike initially spread into the Northwest, how the species
continues to spread in Lake Roosevelt and what the coalition of organizations
is doing to suppress pike in the lake in order to prevent their spread into the
Columbia River downstream.
coalition includes WDFW, the Colville Tribes, the Spokane Tribe of Indians, the
Council, the Bonneville Power Administration and the National Park Service.
of the suppression effort in upper Lake Roosevelt has been in the Colville and
Kettle river areas, but the fish, which is voracious and can eat other fish up
to 75 percent of its body size, is now spreading into areas south of where the
Kettle River flows into the lake.
was a very good recruiting year for the pike, so this is the population’s
biggest year and we are now finding them below the Hunter’s (Campground) area,”
by gillnetting began in earnest in 2015, but pike first entered the lake from
the Pend Oreille River in 2011 and the population has grown steadily.
of the species in Northwest waters was due to introduction into the Blackfoot
and Clark Fork rivers in the 1950s. The Flathead River system was contaminated
with pike in the 1970s, as was the Coeur d’Alene River. The Spokane River first
saw pike in 1979 and the Pend Oreille River in 2004. The upper Columbia River
in British Columbia first saw pike in 2009.
this expansion of northern pike, especially into the Hunter’s area of Lake
Roosevelt, the Spokane Tribe approached the Council and BPA in June to fund
additional gillnetting in the lake, asking for $123,017 of Budget Oversight Group
funds to increase and expand their pike removal efforts in the lake.
Lake Roosevelt Northern Pike population is experiencing chronic recruitment and
exponential growth,” the request for funds says. “Since the initial 2015 pilot
study, the Lake Roosevelt Co-Managers have removed over 2,000 Northern Pike in
the Kettle Falls area, encountered an increasingly diverse size-class
structure, and documented the presence of age-0 Northern Pike in the Kettle
River, Colville River.”
to the request, “data collected through April 2017 suggests that juvenile
Northern Pike are able to recruit, that growth rates for juvenile and adult
Northern Pike are high, and that abundance and distribution of Northern Pike is
increasing. An initially small population of non-native invasive Northern Pike
can expand rapidly and alter the structure of fish communities through
CBB, June 23, 2017, “Invasive Northern Pike Spreading In Lake Roosevelt; Tribe
Seeks Funds To Expand Removal Efforts,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439148.aspx)
and the Council formed BOG to address emergencies and lost opportunities in
2004 to conduct a budget tracking process, funding BOG with $1 million each
fiscal year (October 1 – September 30).
considers pike a problem, not an opportunity, Donley said. In 2011, the state
agency reclassified pike as a Prohibited Species and adopted a no minimum size,
no daily limit and no possession limit for harvest of the fish. In addition, a
pike must be killed before it is transported and releasing a pike into other waters
suppression and monitoring program set up by the partners is funded from
numerous sources. The Colville Tribe this year is receiving $225,000 of
reallocated Columbia River Accord funds from BPA. It also has a 3-year $25,000
grant from Grant County Public Utility District and a 3-year $35,000 grant from
Chelan PUD, in addition to $35,000 of its own funds.
Spokane Tribes has three years of BOG funding along with the $123,017 they just
received in additional BOG funding. They also use $4,500 of their own funds,
$72,000 from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a $6,000 grant from the American
Fisheries Society and $12,000 from the Upper Columbia United Tribes.
is spending $10,000 of its own money while receiving $50,000 from BPA and $15,000
from Chelan PUD.
Council staff’s July 3, 2017 memorandum at https://www.nwcouncil.org/media/7491176/8.pdf
are not sufficient funds to cover the suppression costs if you want to close
the door on these fish,” Donley said. “If your goal is to just protect the fish
communities (such as native rainbow trout) in Lake Roosevelt, then it is
all the money goes to suppression through gillnetting or electro-fishing. Funds
are also spent for research to determine the size and location of the northern
pike population in the lake and to determine the pikes’ movements and spawning
patterns. Most of that research occurs May through December, while most of the
gillnetting is February through June when the fish congregate and spawn (late
March to early April) and so are easier to find, McClellan said.
said the researchers hope that a deep drawdown of the lake will hinder spawning
success, but Donley added that these fish have “figured out how to delay their
spawn time two to three months.”
this year with overnight setnets (set 525 times for a total of 5,399 hours of
gillnetting) have removed 1,083 pike, most near the mouth of the Kettle River
and with most of the fish at ages one to four years. The largest fish caught
this year? Some 44 inches and 26 pounds.
overall suppression effort in Lake Roosevelt includes a public outreach
campaign to let anglers know there are no minimums when fishing for the pike
and a $10 per fish angler reward program run by the Colville Tribes that began
two locations on the lake, anglers can put pike heads in zip lock bags, fill
out a form, and receive a check in the mail, according to a July 14 blog post
by the Council’s John Harrison (https://www.nwcouncil.org/news/blog/lake-roosevelt-pike-update-july-2017/). Some 216 heads
have been turned in since the reward program began in May and one head, said
McLellan, was so big it would not fit in the one-gallon bag.
September 23, 2016, “Council OKs More Funds For Fighting Pike Invasion: ‘Pike
Pose Enormous Threat To Salmon, Steelhead,'” http://www.cbbulletin.com/437602.aspx
CBB, January 15, 2016, “Council Considers More Money For Pike Removal: ‘An
Alarming Increase In Pike Abundance,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/435860.aspx
CBB, Nov. 19, 2015, “A Northern Pike Caught In John Day Reservoir: For Salmon,
Canary In The Coal Mine?” http://www.cbbulletin.com/435580.aspx
CBB, July 17, 2015, “Invasive Northern Pike Spreading Further, Reproducing;
Council Hears Information On States’ Policies,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/434535.aspx