Walleye fishing on Lake Pend Oreille continues to yield big rewards for anglers
Photo courtesy Caleb Wilson Stock photo of an angler with a walleye from Lake Pend Oreille.
By T.J. Ross
Regional Communications Manager
During May 2022, two anglers each caught and turned in a reward-tagged walleye from Lake Pend Oreille by participating in the angler incentive program.
Their lucky catches earned each of them a payout of $1,000. Between gas prices and inflation, who doesn’t want to get paid that kind of money, especially when the check is won for time spent catching fish!
According to both anglers, the winnings will go toward gas money to catch more fish. Not a bad way to invest the money, if you ask us!
One of the winning walleye was around 16”, and the other was around 21”; both were tagged and caught near the railroad bridge outside of Sandpoint.
So you want to try your hand at walleye fishing
Since the angler incentive program began in 2019, the vast majority of reward-tagged walleye have been caught in the northern portion of the lake. So if you’re looking to get out and fish for walleye, consider spending some time in that area.
All indicators suggest that walleye fishing is good right now and should get better in the months ahead. The number of heads turned in last month was the highest on record for May since the program began in 2019.
July and August mark the months when the most heads are turned in each year, so get your gear ready, and get out after them this summer – the best is yet to come!
The best part is that there is currently $100,000 worth of reward-tagged walleye cruising the waters of Lake Pend Oreille.
What it’s all about
As great as it is to send anglers home with cash in their pockets, the angler incentive program is really all about keeping walleye at low density. When walleye eat other fish species, particularly kokanee and trout, it threatens the sustainability of the Lake Pend Oreille fishery. This includes the world-class rainbow trout fishery for which Lake Pend Oreille is so well known.
Walleye have been introduced into many waters in the western United States. Time and again this has resulted in negative outcomes for coldwater fish, like trout and kokanee.
If left unchecked and unmanaged in Lake Pend Oreille, walleye could impact the predator-prey balance needed to support kokanee and the variety of predators that feed on them. Ultimately, the long-term health of the Lake Pend Oreille fishery depends on keeping walleye at low density.
To learn more on this topic, watch the 2022 State of the Lake virtual meeting.
Get more information
Idaho Fish and Game biologists provide regular updates on known walleye locations in Lake Pend Oreille to help get anglers and walleyes to cross paths. Make sure to check for walleye location updates on the Panhandle Fish and Game website and Facebook page before heading out on your next walleye outing.
If you’re interested in learning more about walleye fishing in Lake Pend Oreille, the walleye incentive program and general information about walleye in the lake, Fish and Game has plenty of resources to help.
Learn more about the angler incentive program for walleye and locations of freezers where you can turn in walleye heads.
Learn more about how walleye fit into the fisheries make-up of Lake Pend Oreille.
Learn more about the Clark Fork Settlement Agreement through Avista that funds the walleye drawing.
For more information, check out IDFG's Lake Pend Oreille fisheries webpage and watch the 2022 State of the Lake virtual meeting to learn more about the world-class fisheries to which Lake Pend Oreille is home.
Please contact the Panhandle Regional office at 208-769-1414 if you have any questions or would like to learn more about the angler incentive program on Lake Pend Oreille. Or follow the department on the Panhandle Region Facebook page for regular updates and news.
T.J. Ross is a regional communications manager with Idaho Department of Fish and Game.