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Lake Pend Oreille and Pend Oreille River creel surveys in the Panhandle are up and running

When you pull into the dock after fishing Lake Pend Oreille or the Pend Oreille River this year, you may be greeted by a smiling face wearing Idaho Fish and Game gear, eager to ask you a few questions. 

From now until March 2023, Fish and Game will be conducting a creel survey to collect information about how your fishing experience was on the lake and river. 

Don’t worry, we are not trying to keep tabs on you, we’re simply trying to gather information to help us sustain and further improve the already excellent fishing opportunity in Lake Pend Oreille and the Pend Oreille River.

The specific information we’re interested in includes understanding how many anglers are fishing, how long they fished, what species they are targeting, how many fish they caught and the number and size of fish they harvested.

Angler logbooks are one important piece of this puzzle, but they’re more customized to anglers who target rainbow trout. 

Rainbow Trout in Pend Oreille system


The creel survey is designed to take a broader look at the Pend Oreille angling population and how those anglers interact with the diverse and dynamic fisheries in the lake and river.

It is important to repeat creel surveys periodically to characterize changes that may have occurred. It has been seven years since the last survey of Lake Pend Oreille, and there has never been a creel survey on the Pend Oreille River. 

The survey will help us better understand angling on the river, particularly for warmwater species like smallmouth and largemouth bass. Information gained from the creel survey will allow us to evaluate current fishing regulations and other management actions being implemented with the intent to make fishing better.  

Current conditions of the Pend Oreille fishery have us curious about what anglers are seeing out there. Kokanee abundance in the lake has rebounded after years of intensive predator management, which means more kokanee to feed both anglers and other popular fish in the system, such as rainbow trout. 

There are also some relatively new scaly characters on the scene. Smallmouth bass were uncommon in creel surveys of Lake Pend Oreille until the early 2000s, but by 2014 they were the second most common species caught. This year’s creel survey will give us more information about how that fishery has grown in recent years. 

Another scaly and toothy character that has been increasing in number within Lake Pend Oreille is walleye. There is concern that, if left unchecked, walleye may negatively affect the kokanee population, similar to what happened previously with lake trout. Information about angler effort, catch rates and harvest for walleye provides another tool to evaluate their current status and the influence angling is having on their population.

Walleye by Joseph R. Tomellerri

To gather all of this information, Fish and Game staff will wait at boat launches and marinas to interview anglers at the end of their trips.

Most interviews will only take a couple of minutes and are crucial in allowing us to understand how the various fisheries in the Pend Oreille system are performing. 

Thanks for your continued support of the diverse fisheries to which the Pend Oreille system is home.

For more information, please visit the Lake Pend Oreille Fisheries website or contact the Panhandle Regional office at (208) 769-1414.

You can also follow us on the Panhandle Region Facebook page to get regular news and updates