Rules Category: Eastern Washington and Columbia Region Freshwater
Species covered in proposed rule • Walleye
Rule to Change: Walleye. Lake Roosevelt. No minimum size. 8 fish limit. 1 over 22" may be retained included in limit.
New Rule Proposal: Increase the limit to 10. No minimum size. Must be under 18". 1 over 22" may be retained included in limit.
Why the change is needed: Lake Roosevelt walleye population has consistantly been made up of 85% under 16 inch walleye for 25 years. This segment of the population could use some regulations to help direct fishermen to retain these smaller walleye as part of the creel. The walleye have been eating sculpins and crayfish for years which indicate that they are now selecting prey items at the bottom of their preferred dietary list. And now with the smallmouth population also increasing in Lake Roosevelt and competing for the same limited food base, walleye length to weight ratios are the lowest in the state. There are not enough walleye being harvested from Lake Roosevelt. We have noticed that in the past 2 years that there has been significantly more under 16 inch walleye being retained and caught and thrown back. Despite the 70 foot drawdowns, the walleye still spawn very well every Spring.
Names of individuals or groups with whom you have discussed this change: Brought to attention to Lake Roosevelt Walleye club at recent June meeting.
Describe their support and/or concerns:
If the state wants anglers to focus on retaining the smaller sized walleye to make a better fishery then regulations need to be directed towards this and then re-evaluate the population again after 2 years. Generally, under 18" walleye are the best quality for eating anyways. Look at the FWIN data for lack of perch caught the last 2 years and the sizes of walleye caught in the gillnets, Lake Roosevelt is seeing a change in forage base and walleye size is lopsided heavily to the smaller sizes in the population. Lake Roosevelt can be successfully managed so there are multiple vibrant fisheries for all user groups. Walleye fishig and tournaments attract thousands of visitors to Lake Roosevelt yearly and provide economic value to every small town along the lake shoreline. These small towns rely on tourist and recreationist dollars to keep them going at a time when the state budget requires rural communities to fend for themselves.
Submitted by: MESKAN, JAMES E — KETTLE FALLS, WA
Date submitted: 06/15/2012
WDFW Rule Proposal Recommendation
Recommended for Public Comment Reference ID: DFW780973
Rule Change Recommendation Short Title Liberalize bag limits for walleye on Lake Roosevelt and the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt
Rules Category Eastern Washington and Columbia Region Freshwater
Type of Rule Change Proposal Conservation
County or Location Information Stevens/Lincoln counties
Short Description Increase harvest of walleye in Lake Roosevelt.
Explanation Updated to clarify Table 1. The explanations for options 2 and 3 were reversed. The Lake Roosevelt walleye population remains overabundant following the liberalization of harvest regulations in 2007, which were intended to reduce the abundance of walleye in the reservoir. Fall walleye index netting (FWIN) catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) data indicates walleye abundance has not declined (Figure 1) and fish continue to exhibit slow growth and poor condition due to a predator/ prey imbalance within the reservoir. In addition, predation on other game and non-game fish species is a concern at the present abundance level. Creel data indicate that angler harvest (about 50,000 walleye annually) is not sufficient to achieve management objectives (Figure 2). Modeling suggests that an increase in angler harvest to 150,000 annually is necessary to meet management objectives. Opening the Spokane Arm during the walleye spawning season in April and May represents increased recreational opportunity, and four sportfishing regulation alternatives are being considered to allow for an increase in angler harvest (Table 1).
Table 1. Lake Roosevelt sportfishing regulation alternatives. All to include opening of Spokane Arm during April – May.
Retain Current 8 fish limit with 1 over 22”
This regulation is not currently meeting the objective to reduce the population through angler harvest.
16 fish limit Based on modeling results this regulation should increase angler harvest of walleye. Exploitation rates for age 9+ fish (22” length plus) will likely increase.
16 fish limit with 1 over 22” Based on modeling results this regulation should provide for increased angler harvest of walleye, while maintaining the current exploitation rate for age 9+ fish (22” length plus) between 30-90%.
No regulation on daily limit or size
Biologically, a “no limit” would be acceptable in managing this population. Socially, WDFW understands that this proposal may be unacceptable to constituents.