Priest Lake fishery management meetings set

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Courtesy photo Fish and Game anglers troll for mackinaw on Priest Lake.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game and anglers will meet today at 6:30 p.m. at Coolin’s Inn on Priest Lake for the first in a series of public meetings on future management of Priest Lake’s lake trout fishery.

The state is asking anglers if they want the Fish and Game department to start a lake trout removal process such as the one at Lake Pend Oreille.

Lake trout in Lake Pend Oreille were targeted for removal after a downtown in the lake’s popular kokanee fishery. Kokanee populations in Pend Oreille have recovered, and the state pays anglers bounties to harvest lake trout.

Fish and Game wants to know if anglers prefer Priest Lake’s trophy mackinaw fishery over one that manages for native species such as whitefish, bull trout and cutthroat trout.

In 2013, Fish and Game formed a fishery advisory group for Priest Lake that worked with the department on management options. Alternatives that will be discussed at upcoming meetings include continuing the existing management primarily for a sustainable lake trout fishery and continue bull trout conservation efforts in Upper Priest Lake. Other options include suppressing lake trout numbers and managing the lake for a kokanee, cutthroat trout and bull trout.

Additional meetings are set at 6:30 p.m. July 24 at the Priest River Events Center, at 5399 Highway 2, and at 6:30 p.m. July 27 in Coeur d’Alene at the Panhandle Region Office, 2885 W. Kathleen Ave.

Fish and Game also plans to mail surveys to a randomly selected number of anglers, and at the same time, make an online poll available on its website (idfg.idaho.gov). Fisheries managers plan to make a decision on how to proceed with the lake’s management by the end of this year.

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