BONNER COUNTY, Idaho — Anglers, it could be your lucky day. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who catches a tagged walleye.
Fish and Game kicked off the first year of the walleye lottery program in March 2019 by announcing that $50,000 in reward money was swimming in Lake Pend Oreille. Nearly 200 anglers participated and winners took home just under $9,000 in prize money.
In order to enter the lottery, anglers submitted walleye heads to Fish and Game freezers located throughout the region. There were two ways to win.
First, anglers could catch walleye implanted with a $1,000 reward tag in its snout. Anyone who submitted a tagged head would automatically win. Second, each head submitted provided one entry into a monthly drawing of ten $100 rewards.
Heads must be submitted during the same month they were harvested to be included in the drawings.
However, none of the $1,000 tagged fish were submitted last year. Fisheries managers want to change that in 2020 by adding even more $1,000 tags to the pool and giving anglers walleye data from the first season.
“Our goal is to tag an additional 50 high-dollar reward fish ahead of Memorial Day weekend,” said Ken Bouwens, mitigation staff biologist for Fish and Game.
The majority of walleye caught by lottery participants during the first year of the lottery came out of the northern half of the lake, where the waters are generally shallower and warmer.
Through summer 2019, the Sandpoint long bridge and Clark Fork River Delta consistently detected higher numbers of walleye. The Pend Oreille River near Laclede and Clark Fork River also had high detection rates during the summer months.