Idaho Dealing With Increasing Numbers Of Salmon Eating Non-Native Walleye

An invasive fish that eats young salmon and steelhead has moved upriver into Idaho.

Walleye were illegally introduced into the Columbia River in the mid-1900s.  The non-native fish has been trapped at Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River South of Colfax starting in 2016.  Idaho Fish and Game estimates that hundreds of walleye will pass Lower Granite into Idaho this year.  The average-sized walleye trapped at the dam is 18 inches and just under two pounds.  The largest fish was 23 inches and weighed 4.5 pounds.  Anglers have started to catch walleye in Idaho including one fish that was caught 80 miles upstream on the Salmon River near Riggins.

Researchers estimate that the average walleye eats around 2.5 young salmon and steelhead smolts every day in the spring.  Idaho Fish and Game is concerned the walleye predation on native fish will lead to reduced salmon and steelhead runs.

The agency is encouraging anglers in Idaho to keep walleye.  There are no restrictions on walleye fishing in Idaho and officials add that many people enjoy the meat.