Anglers on Lake Pend Oreille earned over $5,000 catching walleye during May and June
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: July 11, 2023

For most fisherman, the notion of getting paid to fish is a pie-in-the-sky dream. For five lucky anglers on Lake Pend Oreille, that dream recently became a reality. During May and June 2023, each of the five anglers caught and turned in a reward-tagged walleye from the lake, earning them each a payout of $1,000. You read that right, a thousand bucks each!

Chris Lewandowski from Bonners Ferry has been fishing for walleye on Lake Pend Oreille for almost a decade. His first walleye trip of 2023 yielded more than just a gallon bag of walleye fillets.

“I had a feeling I was going to win something, but when I got the call that I had won $1,000, I was in disbelief and shock, to be honest,” said Lewandowski.

Lewandowski’s winning fish was one of six he caught that day. “I love to fish, especially with my family. When you can catch a really great tasting fish and win money on top of that, that is a pretty good deal,” he said.

Lewandowski learned about the Lake Pend Oreille angler incentive program a few years ago; he had turned in lake trout heads before, so he knew the drill.

“It’s really cool that anglers on Lake Pend Oreille get to actively be a part of managing the different fisheries in the lake, including walleye,” said Lewandowski.

He hasn’t spent his winnings yet; however, he has been considering getting a new pontoon boat, so the money will likely go toward that purchase.

The scoop on walleye

Walleye fishing has been picking up lately, and it should continue to provide good opportunity in the weeks ahead.  More walleye heads were turned in during June than in any other month since the Lake Pend Oreille walleye angler incentive program started in March 2019. The number of walleye heads turned in by anglers during June easily surpassed the total number of heads turned in from January to May 2023. In the past, the highest number of heads have been turned in during July, so right now is the time to get out and chase some walleye!

Since the walleye angler incentive program started in 2019, over 50% of the reward-tagged walleye have been caught in the northern end of Lake Pend Oreille. In fact, all five of the winning walleye caught in May and June came from the north end of the lake. So, if you’re looking to get out and fish for walleye, consider spending some time in that portion of the lake.

Walleye caught by a fisherman with a crankbait in Lake Pend Oreille

Fish and Game biologists provide regular updates on known walleye locations in Lake Pend Oreille to help get anglers and walleyes to cross paths. Make sure to check for walleye location updates on the Fish and Game website and Facebook page before heading out on your next walleye outing.

Catching that lucky reward-tagged walleye isn’t the only way to win big. For every walleye head turned in, an entry is earned to a monthly drawing for ten rewards worth $100 each. Think of it as a raffle, where each walleye head is a raffle ticket. The more tickets you have in the hat, the more likely you are to win.

If you’re interested in learning more about walleye fishing in Lake Pend Oreille, the walleye angler incentive program and general information about walleye in the lake, Idaho Fish and Game has plenty of resources to help.

Check out our “Lake Pend Oreille fisheries” webpage to learn more about the world-class fisheries to which Lake Pend Oreille is home.


Please contact the Panhandle Regional office at (208) 769-1414 with any questions.

Follow us on the Panhandle Region Facebook page for regular updates and news.

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