FISHING -- An angler has earned nearly $100,000 for catching and turning in northern pikeminnows on the Columbia and Snake rivers since the state-sanctioned 2015 Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Program opened May 1.
As of Friday, the angler had earned a record $95,000 and the 2015 season funded by the Bonneville Power Administration ends Wednesday, Sept. 30.
The angler's name is being withheld, said OregonLive outdoors blogger Bill Monroe, but the angler is reportedly one of the regular big-earners who've been cashing in for years on the Oregon-Washington program to reduce numbers of the predators feeding on salmon and steelhead smolts coming down through the Snake and Columbia dams.
For every qualifying northern pikeminnow 9 inches or longer returned to a registration station, anglers will receive $5-$8. The more fish an angler catches, the more they're worth: the first 25 in one season are worth $5 each; after 25, they're worth $6 each; and after 200 they're worth $8 each. Special tagged northern pikeminnow will be worth $500 again this year.
Raising the top regular reward figure to $8 a fish has boosted the payouts significantly, Monroe reports. More important to the fish mangers, it's resulted in more of the pikeminnows being caught. Warmer, lower flows this year may also have contributed to the higher pikeminnow catch.
Pikeminnow is a native fish that flourishes in the system's hydroelectric-producing reservoirs. They're by far the most voracious predators on juvenile salmon and steelhead.