Idaho walleye fishing

$50,000 is Swimming in an Idaho Lake

Idaho is going all out to get people fishing.

Just a couple weeks ago, we reported on Idaho's trout fishing program, which offered anglers cash rewards for helping thin out the rainbow trout population at the South Fork of the Snake River.

Now, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is teaming up with Avista to offer basically the same opportunity, but for walleye in Lake Pend Oreille, which will begin March 1.

Similar to the trout research program, wildlife officials inject a tiny internal tag into the snouts of the fish, which the anglers won't actually be able to see. IDFG officials tagged 50 total walleye, which are now swimming in Lake Pend Oreille, the Clark For River and the Pend Oreille River.

If you catch a turn in the head of a tagged walleye, you'll win a $1,000 reward. However, even if your walleye head isn't tagged, it'll still enter a monthly drawing for 10 cash prizes of $100.

Additionally, there's no bag limit on walleye within the Pend Oreille system, so you can fill up the boat to increase your chances.

The IDFG worries the inflated walleye population could threaten the kokanee, rainbow trout, native bull trout, cutthroat trout and smallmouth bass populations. Officials believe the unexpected boost in the walleye population is most likely a product of illegal introduction back in the 1990s.

Walleye reproduce at alarming rates, as they were basically nonexistent in Lake Pend Oreille 10 years ago, so the search for a remedy is undoubtedly time-sensitive.

There is good news, though. Of all fish that could be a nuisance, walleye are one of the best freshwater fish to eat and a ton of fun to catch, too.

Below are the fish head freezer locations:

  • MacDonald's Hudson Bay Resort, 17813 E Hudson Bay Rd, Bayview
  • Fish & Game Field Office, 16805 Limekiln Rd, Bayview
  • Garfield Bay Boat Launch, 61 W Garfield Bay Rd, Sagle
  • Glengary Boat Launch, Marina Rd, Sagle
  • Peck Landscape Supplies & Farm Store, 468215 Hwy 95, Sagle
  • North 40, 477181 N Hwy 95, Ponderay
  • Arnie's Conoco, 32131 Hwy 200, Kootenai
  • Holiday Shores Resort and Cafe, 46624 Hwy 200, Hope
  • Hope Marine, 47392 Hwy 200, Hope
  • Bonner Park West, 500 Railroad Ave, Priest River
  • Idaho Fish and Game Regional Office, 2885 W Kathleen Ave, Coeur d'Alene (weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)