NESPELEM, Wash. – Lake Roosevelt has a sinkhole problem. A program aimed at helping rid the lake of invasive fish could make fishing trips fun, tasty and profitable for area anglers.
The Northern Pike Bounty Program pays anglers $10 per northern pike head delivered to designated sites, up to an individual maximum of $590 per calendar year.
“We want to remind anglers to kill every pike they catch and turn their heads for a reward,” said Holly McLellan, fish biologist for Colville Tribes Fish and Wildlife (CTFW). “No matter what size they are, even small pike count towards the reward.”
A statement from CTFW said anglers turned in 125 pike in 2022 and were paid $1,250. To make it even easier this year, the CTFW created a map showing sink hot spots and freezer locations.
Anglers can drop off their pike heads at the Noisy Waters Gas Station, Kettle Falls Boat Launch, Hunters Boat Launch, Fort Spokane Boat Launch or the Inchelium Fish and Wildlife office.
“We appreciate anglers helping to protect the Lake Roosevelt fishery,” McLellan said.
Pike can exceed 50 inches and weigh up to 45 pounds. An adult female can produce up to 250,000 eggs. And with their duck-billed mouths and large teeth, they can easily eat frogs, birds, trout, salmon and steelhead.
The Colville Tribes, Spokane Tribe of Indians and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife work together to manage Lake Roosevelt. These co-managers have removed 19,110 pike from the lake since 2015.
“Co-managers are particularly concerned about the negative impacts of northern pike on tribal and state resources,” McLellan said. “Co-managers of Lake Roosevelt invest $9 million annually to protect and enhance Lake Roosevelt’s fisheries through breeding programs, native fish conservation programs for red banded trout, white sturgeon and burbot, as well as restoration projects of “habitats. conservation and restoration of current fisheries in Lake Roosevelt.”
To participate in the program, anglers must be at least 17 years old and completely fill out tag information at the designated drop-off area. There are no size restrictions for pike, but fish heads must be in good condition and clearly identifiable and placed in a freezer bag with a label.
Fish caught in the main stem of the Columbia River from Wells Dam upstream to the Canadian border, the Spokane River upstream to Little Falls, the Kettle River or the Okanogan River are eligible for the program.
After submitting your pike heads, CTFW said you should allow 2-3 weeks to receive your reward.