I am a professional sportsman and wildlife enthusiast. I hold an Idaho guide’s license on Lake Pend Oreille and the Clark Fork River.
As an ethical sportsman the gill-netting of walleye from Lake Pend, Clark Fork and Pend Oreille rivers is befuddling. Gill-netting sport fish is unethical.
The hypocrisy that the Idaho Fish and Game has exhibited toward sporting ethics is less than admirable. The Idaho Fish and Game recognizes 15 species of game fish in Lake Pend Oreille. The potential for world record sport fishing is second to none.
The ideology that a species takes precedence over many is harmful to these fisheries and a fundamental challenge of ethics.
Idaho Fish and Game are turning a blind eye to the economy, environment, and natural resources. The disregard for game fish is contrary to ethical management practices.
Economically, the impact walleye have is undeniable. There are no freshwater species that generate more revenue than bass and walleye. Sportsmen travel thousands of miles to chase walleye, yet Idaho Fish and Game have not established a conservation plan for them.
According to the American Sportfishing Association, the fishing industry generates $115 billion annually. Two separate surveys conducted in 2017 revealed that largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and walleye are the most sought after game fish in the United States and Canada. The failure to implement conservation policies for walleye hinders the Idaho economy.
Gill-netting walleye has a detrimental impact on all species. Removal of walleye which aid in the management of less desirable species is counterproductive to Fish and Game native trout and salmon objectives.
The northern pikeminnow for example damage salmon and trout populations. Walleye forage heavily on pikeminnow, aiding in Fish and Game objectives.
In the state of Washington, the Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Program pays fishermen to remove pikeminnow from the Snake and Columbia Rivers. The goal of this program is to remove a species detrimental to trout and salmon population.
The Idaho Fish and Game have created a double standard, desirable versus undesirable invasive/non-native species. During the spring pike spawn, fishermen line the banks of Denton Slough on Lake Pend Oreille. Mature pike are routinely killed and wasted by unethical sportsmen. The Idaho Fish and Game has not attempted to protect these sport fish from unlawful wanton waste. Doesn’t the gill-netting of walleye break the wanton waste law or is the Idaho Fish and Game exempt from this statute?
The waste of a renewable resource is of major concern. It is becoming difficult to enjoy the outdoors. Sportsmen are losing access to exceptional fisheries, simply because fewer exist. As this trend persists, the future of all fisheries perishes.
The concept of catch and release is all for naught if the Fish and Game are gill-netting the same species sportsmen are trying to protect. I have never enjoyed eating a fish as much as I have enjoyed catching.
Poor regulations or lack thereof has been the demise of the trophy yellow perch fishery in Lake Pend Oreille. The quality of yellow perch has faltered due to years of unethical freezer fillers and the Idaho Fish and Game’s dereliction of duty. Other species are soon to follow if the Fish and Game doesn’t reevaluate their management of resources.
The Idaho Fish and Game has an opportunity for a unique world class fishery. This cannot exist if walleye are gillnetted from Lake Pend Oreille, Clark Fork and Pend Oreille rivers.