Spring 2022 marked the fifth year of netting operations to help control the walleye population in Lake Pend Oreille.
A question we are often asked is, “Aren’t other fish species captured and killed in the gill nets used to capture walleye?”
Although a variety of other fish species do get caught in the net, mortality of these fish is fairly low. This is primarily because of the numerous preventative measures that are taken to minimize mortality of these other fish species.
Give the video below a quick watch for more detailed information and to see what the netting operation looks like on the water.
Walleye gill netting operations run for three weeks every spring. Crews target walleye that are grouping up to spawn in the shallow, northern sections of the lake. Netting sites include portions of the Clark Fork Delta near Sheepherder Point, the Pack River Delta, Sunnyside areas, and in the vicinity of the railroad bridge near Sandpoint, Oden Bay and Kootenai Point.
Suppression efforts sustain the Lake Pend Oreille recreational fishery
Walleye were illegally introduced into Noxon Reservoir in the early 1990’s. Eventually they expanded downstream and became a new top tier predator in Lake Pend Oreille.
Five years ago, Fish and Game took steps to keep walleye at a low density in order to protect the kokanee population, which supports a popular fishery and is a critical food source for many fish species in the lake. This benefits a wide variety of species such as rainbow trout, bull trout, cutthroat trout and smallmouth bass that are all susceptible to negative impacts from walleye.
Biologists use two techniques to manage walleye populations – gillnetting and incentivizing angers to catch and keep walleye.
Suppression efforts will not eliminate walleye from the lake; the species is here to stay. Instead, the goal is to keep their population at a low density to reduce their effect on other fish species that support the tremendously popular Lake Pend Oreille fishery.
How you can participate
Fish and Game encourages anglers to fish for and harvest walleye. There are no seasons or bag limits and the walleye incentive program is continuing for its fourth year.
Here is a fun fact. Walleye cruising the waters of Lake Pend Oreille are carrying about $100,000 in rewards. Always dream of getting paid to fish? Well, here’s your chance!
Get all the details about the walleye incentive program on our Lake Pend Oreille Angler Incentive Program website.
Walleye harvested through the gillnetting program are donated to Bonner Food Bank and ABC Food Bank.