Idaho Fish and Game has offered a reward to try to solve the unsettling mystery of how a walleye ended up in Lake Cascade.
The fish was caught this week — more than 200 miles from Idaho’s nearest population of walleye.
Fish and Game says the fish had to have been illegally stocked, and resources will be diverted to expand fish sampling later this year to see how big of a problem has been created. Walleye are predators that could threaten the trophy perch population that has been cultivated in the lake.
“This incident is particularly disheartening for Cascade,” said Dale Allen, a regional fisheries manager based in McCall. “Fish and Game spent years rebuilding a world-class perch fishery, and the reservoir is also full of big trout and trophy smallmouth bass. Adding another top predator like walleye will almost certainly impact these other sport fish.”
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The walleye also could get into the Payette and Snake rivers from Lake Cascade, Fish and Game says. Walleye are stocked in a select few isolated reservoirs in Idaho where there’s no threat of them spreading.
“It is because of their potential threat to existing fisheries that walleye have not been more widely stocked in other Idaho waters,” according to a Fish and Game press release. “The department receives angler requests to establish new walleye populations every year. For the reasons noted, these requests are courteously denied. Unfortunately, some self-serving anglers are not willing to take no for an answer, instead taking matters into their own hands.”
The walleye traveled so far to Lake Cascade that a significant effort was required by whoever is responsible, Allen said.
“To survive the extended transport time, this fish — and possibly others — would have required clean, cold, aerated water for a number of hours,” he said.
Anyone with information about the Cascade walleye can call the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at (800) 632-5999.