Three Lake Pend Oreille anglers win $1,000 for catching walleye

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — It’s always nice when a hobby gets you a paycheck. Well, for three lucky walleye anglers in Lake Pend Oreille they’re bringing home both fish and some extra cash.

During July, each angler caught a reward-tagged walleye from the lake, earning each of them $1,000.

“The reward system is awesome! My wife and I love to fish. Getting paid to fish is about as good as it gets,” said James Vugrinec, an angler from Rathdrum. He caught his lucky fish in the Pend Oreille River near the Highway 95 bridge.

Idaho Fish and Game said his winning walleye was 19 inches, and originally tagged in Morton Slough. The other two reward-tagged walleye were 19 inches and 24 inches, and were both caught near Windy Point in the lake.

The department said more walleye were turned in during July than in any other month since the Lake Pend Oreille walleye lottery program started in March 2019. The number of fish turned in by anglers during last month nearly surpassed the total number of heads turned in from January to June of this year.

In the past, the department said the highest number of heads have been turned in during August.

Catching the lucky reward-tagged walleye isn’t the only way to win big, they said. For every walleye head turned in, an entry is earned to a monthly drawing for 10 rewards worth $100 each. It is like a raffle and each head is a raffle ticket. The more tickets you have, the more likely you will win.

During the first year of the walleye lottery, the department said 40 percent of the reward-tagged walleye were caught in the northern portion of Lake Pend Oreille. During the second year, over 60 percent were caught in the northern end.

So far in the third year, almost 70 percent have been caught in the northern end of the lake. So for those looking to catch some walleye, consider spending time in the northern end of the lake.

Click here to find a list of freezer locations where you can turn in heads.

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