BAYVIEW, Idaho — A breeze churns the water in Lake Pend Oreille, bouncing the dock James Bartkiewicz is standing on. Clouds and a light drizzle don't stop the fisherman from casting his line and reeling in the rubber fish bait over and over again.
Bartkiewicz is waiting for a bite, but not from just any fish. He is on the hunt for a walleye.
Idaho Fish and Game put small metal tags in the snout of 50 walleye fish and released them back into the lake. Anyone who catches and turns in the head of a tagged fish will receive $1,000.
The pilot walleye program is new for 2019.
Anglers can also win money through a monthly raffle for $100. Every untagged walleye head turned in counts as a ticket in the raffle.
Only lawfully caught walleye harvested in Idaho from Lake Pend Oreille, the Pend Oreille River upstream of Albeni Falls Dam and their tributaries are eligible for the program.
"There's a lot of buzz about potentially getting paid to catch these fish," Bartkiewicz said.
The reward is helping Idaho Fish and Game get rid of walleye fish that are in Lake Pend Oreille. Walleye are considered an invasive species throwing off the lake's natural ecosystem by populating quickly and taking resources from other species.
Idaho Fish and Game Fishery Research Biologist Matt Corsi said walleye eat a lot of the same fish as some of the other native salmon and trout species. That means there is less food to go around with the walleye's population growing exponentially.
He hopes that giving anglers incentive to catch the walleye will help control the population.
As for the fishermen, it's a lottery of sorts.
Idaho Fish and Game has had several hundred heads turned in but none of them have been tagged for the $1,000 prize.
"No luck with the Walleye yet. But I'm not giving up," Bartkiewicz said.