Pikeminnow fishery opens

A fisherman shows off a large northern pikeminnow at the registration booth located at The Dalles Marina in 2017. The Dalles typically reports some of the highest numbers for pikeminnow success on the Columbia, especially early in the season, which opened Wednesday.

This year’s Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery in the Columbia and Snake rivers opened Wednesday, May 1, and runs through Sept. 30, according to a news release from the Bonneville Power Administration, which funds the program.

The bounty fishery is designed to reduce predation on salmon and steelhead. The program pays registered anglers $5 to $8 for each northern pikeminnow at least nine inches long; The more fish an angler catches, the more each fish is worth. Some fish have an even bigger payout: State fish and wildlife biologists have released up to 1,000 specially tagged northern pikeminnow into the Columbia and Snake rivers, each worth $500. Last year the top fisherman in the program earned more than $71,000 in just five months of fishing.

Since 1990, anglers paid through the program have removed nearly 5 million pikeminnow from the Columbia and Snake rivers, and reduced predation on young salmon and steelhead by approximately 40 percent, according to the BPA.

The Dalles is one of the best places to fish early in the season, according to BPA. Last season that station registered 22,464 pikeminnow, one of the highest rates among the 19 stations on the rivers. That included 2,578 fish caught the first week, and 37 tagged fish. At the Giles French station, located near the John Day Dam, anglers registered 6,100 fish in 2018, and in Bingen, 4,250 fish.

The fishery website, www.pikeminnow.org, has details on how to register for the program and state fishing regulations. Anglers will also find resources on the site to help boost their fishing game, including maps, how-to videos and free fishing clinics.

The program is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration and administered by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission in cooperation with the Washington and Oregon departments of fish and wildlife.

For more information about the 2019 Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery, visit www.pikeminnow.org or call 800-858-9015.

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