FISHING -- Anglers can help save salmon and get paid to do it by going fishing.
The Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Program kicked off its 2015 season on the Snake and Columbia rivers this week, and anglers already are cashing in on a more lucrative pay-out tier system.
The program pays anglers handsomely to remove pikeminnows that ambush salmon and steelhead smolts near dams. Anglers must report to one of 20 check-in stations along the two rivers from Cathlamet upstream to the Greenbelt at Clarkston.
Anglers in the The Dalles area were the high producers in the first week, catching and turning in 1,924 pikeminnows in the first three days of the season.
Anglers are paid for each northern pikeminnow that they catch that is nine inches or larger, and the more fish you catch, the higher the reward.
Rewards begin at $5 each for the first 25 northern pikeminnow caught during the season. Anglers earn $6 each for fish No. 26-200, and $8 each for every fish caught above 200. That tier system gets anglers to the higher pay offs sooner. An angler who caught 400 pikeminnows last season would have been paid $1,900. This season 400 fish will $2775 -- an increase of $875.
Specially tagged northern pikeminnows continue to be worth $500.
The program is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration and administered by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, is annually in effect on the Columbia and Snake rivers from May 1-Sept. 30.