Clark Fork and Pack River Angler Survey Underway

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, in cooperation with Avista, began conducting a 10-month angler creel survey on the Clark Fork River from Lake Pend Oreille to Cabinet Gorge Dam on February 1. Additionally, we began surveying anglers fishing the Pack River, Grouse Creek, and Lightning Creek on March 1. We plan to continue these surveys through approximately December 1, 2018.

Surveys are conducted by counting anglers on randomly selected days at randomly selected times. Additionally, anglers are interviewed to find out how long they fished, what they were fishing for, and what they caught.

The goal of these surveys is to obtain estimates of angler effort (total hours fished), catch rates, and harvest rates for all commonly targeted species in these waters. In other words, we are attempting to determine how popular these fisheries are, how good the fishing is, and what levels of harvest are occurring. This information helps us manage these fisheries, including determining appropriate fishing rules.

Two species we are particularly interested in are rainbow trout and walleye. There is a catch-and-release season for rainbow trout in these waters from December 1 through the Friday before Memorial Day. Large rainbow trout from Lake Pend Oreille migrate into these rivers and streams to spawn and a popular fishery has developed in recent years. Our survey will provide more information about how many anglers are targeting rainbow trout and how successful they are. Additionally, walleye are increasing in abundance in Lake Pend Oreille and the Clark Fork River. We are interested to know how effective anglers are at catching and harvesting walleye in the river.

A variety of other species provide good fishing opportunity, such as cutthroat trout, brown trout, smallmouth bass, and bull trout. Conducting these surveys throughout the year will allow us to better understand how fishing is for all species. And, repeating this survey in future years will allow us to monitor trends over time. For example, we’ll be able to see if angler catch rates for these species increase or decrease.

Uniformed IDFG and Avista staff will be out counting anglers and conducting short interviews, and your cooperation is greatly appreciated. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Ken Bouwens at (208) 769-1414 or at

  • creel

    An angler is interviewed during a creel survey

    Creative Commons Licence
    Idaho Fish and Game