A creel survey of Curlew Lake: 10 years after the introduction of Yellow Perch


Published: September 2023

Pages: 28

Publication number: FPT 23-05

Author(s): Danny Garrett and Kent Mayer


Yellow Perch were first documented in Curlew Lake in spring 2011 while conducting trout stock assessment sampling. Initial low densities of Yellow Perch in Curlew Lake sampling in 2011 and 2012, and no prior detection of this species over the previous 13 years of sampling, indicated that these fish were the result of a recent illegal introduction. From 2014-2022, the rapid expansion of the Yellow Perch population combined with the average size (9-10 inches total length) generated considerable enthusiasm by anglers. Given the popularity of the Yellow Perch fishery, WDFW initiated a creel survey and a mark/recapture study at Curlew Lake in 2021 to better understand angler use and harvest. Specific objectives of the study were to estimate effort, catch, and harvest of Yellow Perch and Rainbow Trout during the spring/summer (May-August), fall (September-November), and winter (December-February) periods and estimate the exploitation (% harvested by anglers) of Yellow Perch.

During May-June, shore fishing effort exceeded boat fishing effort, peaking in June at 3,684 angler hours. Boat fishing effort peaked in July (4,763 angler hours) and steadily dropped as the summer progressed. Ice fishing effort peaked in January (4,545 hours) with similar levels of effort to boat anglers during the summer. Total estimated fishing effort across angler types for the entire creel season (May-February) was 40,682 angler hours. Catch and harvest of Yellow Perch was substantial over the course of the 9-month creel survey and similar across most months and time periods, with a summer peak in June and a winter peak in January. Total harvest from the summer and fall periods was 44,452 fish. Ice angler harvest peaked in January (14,317 fish) with a total of 31,464 fish harvested during the winter. Total Yellow Perch harvest for the entire survey (May-February) was estimated at 81,147 fish. The population size of Yellow Perch ≥ 200 mm (8 inches) total length was estimated at 154,345 fish. Total exploitation for the 9-month survey was estimated at 53%. Rainbow Trout comprised a much smaller component of overall effort, catch, and harvest than was expected, based on the popularity of the trout fishery as recently as 2011. The Rainbow Trout fishery was primarily driven by shore angling which peaked in May with 2,625 trout caught and 2,258 harvested. Boat angling for trout also peaked in May with 3,427 fish caught and only 787 harvested. Total harvest of Rainbow Trout for the 9-month period was only 9,448 fish.

Suggested citation

Garrett, D., K. Mayer, and B. Baker. 2023. A creel survey of Curlew Lake 10 years after the introduction of Yellow Perch. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Fish Program, Olympia, Washington, Technical Report FPT# 23-05.