SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) — A study is planned in northern Idaho to estimate the number of lake trout in Priest Lake along with what they eat and their survival rates.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will conduct the study with the University of Idaho's College of Natural Resources and the Kalispel Tribe, the Bonner County Daily Bee reported (http://bit.ly/10Y2txm ). Information gleaned will be used to develop a sport fishery plan for the popular lake.
From March to May, deep-water trap nets and short-duration gill nets will be used to capture lake trout and mark them with individually numbered tags.
Upper and lower Priest Lakes were popular fishing destinations for cutthroat trout and bull trout up to about the 1930s. Kokanee were introduced as a food source for bull trout, but kokanee instead became the most popular sport fish with a harvest of up to 100,000 fish and angler days of about 15,000 a year.
But that fishery collapsed in the 1970s when Mysis shrimp were introduced, which biologists said caused the lake trout population to explode. Officials fought back by stocking Priest Lake with millions of kokanee fry and hundreds of thousands of cutthroat fingerlings. But that plan didn't work.
Priest Lake has since shifted to a fishery dominated by lake trout. But Fish and Game officials say fishing interest has fallen off since lake trout became the dominant species in the lake.
Opinions of anglers about how the lake should be managed vary from sticking with lake trout to restoring cutthroats, bull trout and kokanee.
Fish and Game officials plan to schedule a hearing in late February to discuss the project and answer questions from anglers.
Information from: Bonner County (Idaho) Daily Bee, http://www.bonnercountydailybee.com