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WSU/Pend Oreille Extension introduced the Sense of Place series in 1999, with a focus on local landscape and natural history of Pend Oreille County, Washington. A partnership with the Kalispel Tribe of Indians Natural Resources Department has allowed us to expand this program through EPA funding to include more classes, a newsletter and this website.

Pend Oreille Bass

by Joe Maroney

Over the past several decades, the Pend Oreille River largemouth bass (Micropferus salmoides) fishery has received increasing interest from Spokane fishing club. This fishery has become important fishery for both the Kalispel Tribe and for non-tribal members. The Kalispel Natural Resource Department has participated in two projects over the last several years to increase the number of harvestable largemouth bass populations in Box Canyon Reservoir of the Pend Oreille River.

The first is a bass habitat enhancement project on Box Canyon Reservoir. Two independant studies in the late project is intended to increase the survival of juvenile largemouth bass, thus enhancing recruitment of adult bass to the reservoir. These enhancement structures include Berkley Habitat Structures and Christmas trees. Funding sources for this project include the Bonneville Power Administration, the Kalispel Tribe, Fish America Foundation, and the Washington State B.A.S.S. Federation. Two independent studies back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s found that juvenile overwintering survival has been determined to be the limiting factor for largemouth bass (micropterus salmoides) in the Box Canyon Reservoir. Lack of cover is believed to be related to observed declines in standing crops of largemouth bass, and may result in reduced food availability and higher predation on young-of-year. Adding artificial structures has been shown to improve fish habitat and increase productivity and growth, in that they provide essential wintering habitat for bass. The goal for this project is to place artificial habitat structures that will maximize overwintering success of juvenile largemouth bass.

The second is the construction of a largemouth bass hatchery, funded by BPA, to supplement populations of largemouth bass in Box Canyon Reservoir. Annual production includes 150,000 bass of which 100,000 are fry and 50,000 are fingerlings. The goal is to create a productive bass fishery in Box Canyon Reservoir that is available to tribal members and the public.

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