Monday, April 18, 2011

The saga continues: Pike, People and the Pend Oreille River.

I'll bet some of you have wondered where I've been lately. I've been deeply invloved in what is now a political battle over the Northern Pike fishery in the beautiful Pend Oreille River of Eastern Washington. The complexity of the issue would take me a novel to explain. The story would begin with the building of two dams which created the Box Canyon Reservoir on the Pend Oreille River. It flooded a portion of the Kalispell Indian Reservation and cut off native fish runs from returning to the area. It also turned what was a cool fast flowing river into a slow warm water fishery. This severely damaged the habitat for the native Bull Trout and Westslope Cutthroat Trout, they are now endangered. Along came the Northern Pike which migrated from Montana through Idaho and found the perfect home in the sloughs and weed beds of the river. If unchecked the pike could continue to travel into salmon waters in the Columbia River. Can they be managed and contained at Box Canyon Res., this would be the plot. The main characters of the book would be the Kalispell Tribe, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Fishing Clubs, Guides, Sport fisherman and the businesses whom benefit from the fisherman's dollars. Other chapters in the book would be dedicated to those whom control the flow and use of the river and its bounty. Bonneville Power Association, Avista Power, Pondery Paper and the Army Corp of Engineers.  They may have hundreds of millions of dollars tied in some way to the on going fight. As fisherman ready for another "Open Meeting" with the WDFW there is an air of compromise. However, the heat is being turned up behind the scenes and pressure is bearing down on those whom support a Pike Management Program. Those who want the Pike gone are also feeling the pressure from legislators and the voting public. Gill netting of the Pike has begun as reputations and careers are being strained, friendships and fishing clubs are damaged and divided. Unfortunately I'm right in the middle, trying to figure out how we got here and how we can save some kind of a fishery. Power to the Pike! >:"":>

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