SPOKANE - Northern pike harvest in northeast Washington's Pend Oreille River will close May 1 through June 10, after some of the fish are outfitted with transmitters to reveal their movement and habitat use.
Biologists with the Kalispel Tribe and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will surgically implant radio telemetry transmitters into several adult northern pike from May 1 through 15. The fish will be anesthetized for the implant procedure with a Food and Drug Administration-approved chemical, but they cannot be consumed by humans for at least 21 days after treatment.
Once fish retention resumes, anglers will be asked to participate in the study by carefully releasing any northern pike bearing a wire antenna protruding from its belly, identifying it as having been implanted with a transmitter.
A non-native species that entered Washington's portion of the Pend Oreille River from Idaho's Lake Pend Oreille, northern pike have been found in sufficient numbers in the river to warrant further investigation.
Biologists will track pike habitat use, movement, and behavior on a weekly to bi-weekly basis at least through the spring of 2006. The information will be used for future management of the fishery and to help anglers targeting northern pike.
The pike will be collected for the implant procedure by electro-shocking, short-term gillnetting and hook-and-line fishing. Electro-shocking temporarily stuns fish so they can be retrieved from the water's surface. Each fish will be anesthetized before an incision is made in its belly to insert the transmitter into its body cavity. After the incision is stitched and the fish recuperates in a holding tank, each fish will be released back to the section of the river where it was collected.
After June 10, and throughout the remainder of the study, existing fishing regulations will be in effect. Those regulations impose no catch or size limits for northern pike in the Pend Oreille River.