PORTLAND — The numbers are in, and they’re impressive. In 2017, anglers caught and removed 191,483 northern pikeminnow from the Columbia and Snake Rivers — protecting young salmon and steelhead from predation. About 1,100 anglers registered with the Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Program and were paid nearly $1,542,000 for their efforts in catching the fish.
“The program’s goal is to reduce the number of pikeminnow that prey heavily on juvenile salmon,” Makary Hutson, BPA project manager, said in a statement. “Annual harvest rate estimates, which are calculated using data from tagged fish caught by anglers, indicate the 2017 season met our program targets. This harvest directly benefits juvenile salmon making their way to the ocean.”
The Sport Reward Program pays registered anglers $5 to $8 per fish — nine inches or longer. The more pikeminnow an angler catches during the season, the more each fish is worth. This year, the top 20 fishermen registered with the Sport Reward Program earned an average of nearly $30,000 each. The top angler earned nearly $84,000 — catching more than 10,000 fish over the five-month season.
Northern pikeminnow are voracious eaters, consuming millions of young salmon and steelhead every year. Since 1990, anglers paid through the program have removed more than 4.8 million of these fish from the Columbia and Snake Rivers. The program has reduced predation on young salmon and steelhead by up to 40 percent since it began.