Follow us:

Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

April 7, 2011 at 2:33 PM

Nonnative northern pike becoming a problem in Pend Oreille River

northern_pike.jpg

The nonnative northern pike population has grown at very fast rate in Pend Oreille River and other Eastern Washington waters to the point where state Fish and Wildlife biologist are concerned that they could overtake and wipe out other fish populations.

Recent surveys by fishery managers have shown a reduction in forage fish such as native minnows, whitefish and suckers, as well as nonnative sport fish such as largemouth bass in Pend Oreille River.

Left unchecked, they say that the northern pike could severely impact other fish including native westslope cutthroat and bull trout, and undermine efforts to restore native fish populations in the river system.

State Fish and Wildlife and the Kalispel Tribe of Indians Natural Resources Department will hold public meetings 6 p.m.-8 p.m. to discuss this situation on Tuesday, April 19, at Create Arts Center, 900 W. 4th St., in Newport; and Wednesday, April 20, at Center Place, 2426 N. Discovery Place in Spokane Valley.

Some of the option to gain control of the nonnative species is netting fish and donating them to local food banks, sport-reward fisheries, and fishing tournaments targeting pike.

POISONED_LAKE.JPG

The Pend Oreille River’s northern pike are believed to have originated from illegal stocking in the Clark Fork River system in western Montana. The fish migrated downstream to Lake Pend Oreille, then into the Pend Oreille River in Idaho and Washington.

The first pike in the Pend Oreille River was captured in a 2004 scientific survey, although they have been reported by anglers since the late 1980s. Pike are currently found throughout river’s Box Canyon Reservoir and Boundary Reservoir.

“Our immediate concern is predation on native westslope cutthroat and bull trout,” Bill Baker, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Colville said in a news release. “But native salmon, steelhead and other species also could be at risk if pike migrate downstream and establish populations in the Columbia River. We’re also concerned about northern pike populations establishing in other Washington waters.”

Fish biologists will conduct population-assessment surveys in late April through May to determine the abundance of northern pike and other fish species in Box Canyon Reservoir.

(Photo by Associated Press is California Dept. of Fish and Game officials in 1997 carrying drums of fish killing chemicals out onto Lake Davis to eradicate nonnative northern pike to protect the state’s trout and salmon population. Northern pike graphic by Cornell University)

Comments

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►