Chinook on the hook in North Idaho’s lakes

Print Article

  • IDFG image An angler holds a juvenile Spirit Lake chinook. Landlocked chinook salmon in Spirit Lake, first planted in 2016, are reaching the 20 to 24-inch mark, which means they’re big enough for anglers to keep. The lake also holds smaller fish from later releases, which aren’t yet big enough to harvest. The fish are part of a statewide study; anglers are asked to provide fin clips to assist in the study.

  • 1

    IDFG pic Anglers who catch chinook in Spirit Lake are asked to clip a small piece of fin from the fish, keep it dry and place it in an envelope in nearby kiosks like this one.

  • IDFG image An angler holds a juvenile Spirit Lake chinook. Landlocked chinook salmon in Spirit Lake, first planted in 2016, are reaching the 20 to 24-inch mark, which means they’re big enough for anglers to keep. The lake also holds smaller fish from later releases, which aren’t yet big enough to harvest. The fish are part of a statewide study; anglers are asked to provide fin clips to assist in the study.

  • 1

    IDFG pic Anglers who catch chinook in Spirit Lake are asked to clip a small piece of fin from the fish, keep it dry and place it in an envelope in nearby kiosks like this one.

Spirit Lake anglers have another fish to chase, and the latest introduction to the lake should serve to reduce kokanee populations, which usually results in increasing the size of the small silver salmon.

Anglers last winter began catching chinook salmon through the ice, and the fish often tilted over the 20-inch margin, which is the catch and release cutoff.

Any chinook under 20 inches must be thrown back, according to state fishery laws, while fish over 20 inches can be kept. The chinook that anglers will catch and keep this summer will mostly be in the 20- to 24-inch range, said Carson Watkins of Idaho Fish and Game.

“It’s adding an exciting, new consumptive fishery to the lake,” Watkins said. “These chinook are landlocked. They do not migrate to the ocean but can still reach large sizes in waters with abundant kokanee.”

Chinook salmon, both fertile diploid fish and infertile triploids, were first stocked in the lake in the autumn of 2016 as part of a statewide study to determine which of the fish survive better and which variety is most often caught.

The two-pronged Spirit Lake study will also determine the effect of chinook on the lake’s kokanee fishery. If it’s successful, Fish and Game hopes chinook can be used as a way to make kokanee bigger as their populations are kept in check by chinook predation.

The size of a lake’s kokanee, also called blueback and silvers, usually depends on kokanee density. If numbers are high, greater competition for food keeps the size of the blueback smaller, while a lower density means bigger fish.

Sterile, or triploid, chinook provide biologists more control over the number of salmon. But sterile fish sometimes don’t survive as well as fertile fish. Fish and Game is asking for anglers’ help with the study by providing tissue samples from chinook they catch, Fish and Game fishery manager Andy Dux said.

He asks anglers to clip a small portion of a fin from a chinook — it can be the size of a hole punch. Anglers don’t need to harvest the fish to take a fin sample. The fin clip should be placed in an envelope and deposited in a drop box at the lake’s IDFG boat launch.

Watkins said the ice went off the lake earlier this month and fishing for chinook in the open water should start picking up.

The daily bag limit is two chinook and the minimum length limit is 20 inches.

Using spoons, spinners and flashers that look like kokanee is usually the best bet to catching chinook, Dux said.

“Trolling at depths where kokanee are abundant, and using gear that’s going to imitate kokanee is a good strategy,” he said.

Print Article

Read More Outdoors

Rainbows get booted from Snake’s South Fork

May 19, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press SWAN VALLEY — Patrick Kennedy cradled a massive trout, the kind of fish an angler can remember forever. Every bit of 4 pounds and easily clearing 20 inches long, the ruddy-cheeked spotted wild salmo...

Comments

Read More

The golden guide to becoming a river fisherman

May 12, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press The pocket book was not the kind you fill with money, but we hoped somewhere on its pages to find a map to a jackpot making the book worth more than the buck and a quarter we had paid for it at the d...

Comments

Read More

Region’s bass fishing set to heat up

May 12, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press There’s a sweet spot in North Idaho waters and it has to do with temperature. When spring water temperatures hit the 50-degree mark, warm water fish start to become active. That means bass, crappi...

Comments

Read More

Teton bighorn outnumbered by invasive mt. goats

May 12, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Just so you know, Wyoming Game and Fish doesn’t hate mountain goats. But the growth of the non-native critters in the Teton Range is posing a problem that has wildlife managers considering lethal m...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 263-9534
PO Box 159
Sandpoint, ID 83864

©2019 Bonner County Daily Bee Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X