PORTLAND, Ore. -
Fishing in the Columbia and Snake rivers this spring and summer could be very rewarding for those who pursue the northern pikeminnow. The Northern Pikeminnow Management Program will pay $4 to $8 for each of the salmon-eating predators delivered by fishers to stations along the Columbia and Snake rivers.
The 2005 sport reward program opens on the lower Columbia River May 2 and upstream into the Snake River May 16.
The program is designed to reduce the number of mature pikeminnow in the lower Columbia and lower Snake rivers. These larger fish thrive by devouring juvenile salmon. Since 1990, fishing has removed nearly 2.4 million northern pikeminnow. Last year alone, 268,000 of the predators were turned in for reward, saving thousands of juvenile salmon.
The more northern pikeminnow each angler catches, the more the fish are worth. The first 100 bring $4 each. The next 300 are worth $5 each, and after 400 are turned in, they're worth $8 each. As an added incentive, specially tagged fish released into the rivers will garner $500 each.
To be Credited fish must be at least nine inches long and must be caught in the lower Columbia River (mouth to Priest Rapids Dam) and Snake River (mouth to Hells Canyon Dam). Anglers have averaged several hundred dollars during a season; the top 20 have made from $15,000 to nearly $35,000 fishing for pikeminnow.
Program participants must register in person at one of the registration stations each day prior to fishing. The catch must be turned in each day and reward vouchers are issued for qualified fish.
Information about where to find northern pikeminnow, how to fish for them and how to qualify for the sport reward program is available from the Washington Sport Reward Hot Line at (800) 858-9015. For voucher information, call (800) 769-9362 or (503) 595-3297 in Portland. Visit the Web site at www.pikeminnow.org.