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Second illegally-stocked walleye caught in Lake Cascade in past four years

IDFG called the presence of walleye in Lake Cascade "disheartening," because of the lake's rebuild to become known as a destination for fishing world-class perch.

CASCADE, Idaho — Idaho Fish & Game confirmed the second illegally-stocked walleye was caught in Lake Cascade since 2018 on Saturday, May 7. 

Off-duty Regional Fisheries Biologist, Mike Thomas, was fishing Lake Cascade with local angler, Chris Weber, when Weber landed the fish. According to Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG), the mature male walleye measured 20-inches in length and weighed nearly 3 pounds. 

Back in 2018, an angler reported catching a 19-inch Walleye near Lake Cascade's Crown Point. The walleye caught on May 7 was near the Boulder Creek arm of Lake Cascade. 

"We know that the only way walleye could have gotten into Lake Cascade is through one or more individuals illegally transplanting them there," Regional Fisheries Manager, Jordan Messner said.

It is illegal to release live fish or their eggs in Idaho under state code without the permission of the IDFG director. It is also illegal to possess or transport the live fish or their eggs without permission. 

Idaho Fish & Game said it has never stalked walleye into Lake Cascade or any of its rivers or streams flowing into the lake. Walleyes are "incompatible" with the perch in Lake Cascade and its fisheries downstream, such as the Brownlee, Oxbox and Hells Canyon reservoirs, according to IDFG.

"We know that the only way walleye could have gotten into Lake Cascade is through one or more individuals illegally transplanting them there," Messner said.

IDFG does not know what the impact of the illegally-stocked walleye means for Lake Cascade's fishery. The department said it will be investigating how many walleyes are in the lake. 

Walleye fisheries established by IDFG are in isolated reservoirs, such as the Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir in southcentral Idaho. The reservoir does not allow for the fish to access other waters, due to the threat the walleyes present to existing fisheries. 

"Two reports over a four-year span means Walleye could very well be established in the lake, but the fact that we haven't encountered them during extensive fish population surveys or angler surveys means they are likely not very abundant yet," Thomas said. "Our fisheries program will be shifting gears over the coming weeks to try to determine the extent of their occurrence in the lake, and we'll develop a game-plan for moving forward."

IDFG called the presence of walleye in Lake Cascade "disheartening," because of the lake's rebuild to become known as a destination for fishing world-class perch in recent years. Walleyes are predators that could change the dynamics of fisheries downstream. 

"It's disheartening, because we don't know what the eventual outcome will be," Thomas said. "We can't predict how successful the walleye will be able to reproduce in Cascade. They could become established, they could spawn and exist or they could take over and create a predator-heavy system. "It's really just disappointing for anglers that are passionate about fishing Cascade's jumbo perch."

Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) is offering a cash reward for information regarding the case. Anyone with information is asked to call the CAP hotline at 1-800-632-5999.

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