Fish for Families
an excuse to get out on the lake
The newly formed Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) recognizes the dramatic problems that face the fisheries of Lake Pend Oreille. The kokanee population is in a catastrophic decline and if something isn't done now, we will lose our trophy rainbow fishery.
It has been determined by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game that the populations of predators (Kamloops/Rainbows, Lake Trout/ Mackinaw and Bull Trout) in Lake Pend Oreille are too high in proportion to the population of the prey species (Kokanee). If this imbalance continues it is expected that the Kokanee population will permanently collapse, to the detriment of the Bull Trout and trophy Rainbow Trout fishery.
The CAC hopes that our fellow fisherman will share its concern about the Pend Oreille fishery and the need to act quickly to save it. However, anglers have expressed a reluctance to harvest fish. This may be because they can only keep or preserve just a limited number of fish. In the past this would have posed a problem, but not today. One way to help both the fishery and put to good use the fish that you harvest is to donate them to the needy citizens of our county.
Your harvested fish can be donated to the Bonner County Food Bank. The food bank is currently feeding over 1000 people in Bonner County and they would be extremely grateful to get fresh fish to help meet their needs.
Several marinas around the lake have offered to act as collection points for harvested fish. The Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife will provide the marinas with plastic bags to freeze fish in. The food bank would appreciate the much-needed food; they have expressed that they would take up to 1000 pounds of fresh fish each and every week.
If cleaning the fish is a problem the food bank will take the fish as they are, but you can save them some work if you clean your fish before freezing them. The food bank will pick up the fish at the local marinas, so all an angler needs to do is fill out a simple form. This proxy form simply insures compliance with state law for donating fish. You can fill it out ahead of time in your boat, or take a minute at the collection point to do so. The food bank will keep track of total numbers of fish donated; however the IDFW have no interest in keeping track of what individual anglers harvest.
This is one way that the CAC has determined those of us who enjoy the fisheries of Lake Pend Oreille can do our part to preserve it. If we do NOT reduce the predators of the lake, both the CAC and the IDFW feel that we will loose the Kokanee and in turn we will lose our trophy fishing. So please help your fishery and reduce the number of predator fish that are in the lake. The following marinas will be accepting fish for the Fish For Families program: Harbor Marina (Garfield Bay) 263-9595 McDonalds Hudson Bay Marina (Bayview) 683-2211 Hope Marine Services (Ellisport Bay) 264-5105 or directly contact Alice Wallace at the Bonner County Food Bank, 263-3663.
Hobart Jenkins is a Bayview resident and the Chairman of the Citizen's Advisory Committee. He is a former President of Spokane Community College and is active in fish and wildlife issues.