The northern pikeminnow sport-fishing reward program is under way, again paying anglers a bounty of $4 to $8 to remove the predators from the Columbia and Snake rivers.
The payment program started for 2007 on Monday. It continues through Sept. 30 in the Columbia from the mouth to Priest Rapids Dam and in the Snake from the mouth to Hells Canyon Dam.
The first 100 pikeminnows 9 inches or larger are worth $4 each. The next 300 fetch $5 each. After 400 fish are turned in, each pikeminnow is worth $8. As an incentive, specially tagged fish are worth $500.
In 2006, David Vasilchuk of Vancouver caught 5,714 pikeminnows (eight were tagged) to earn $48,348 before taxes. In 2005, he placed second with 4,746 fish and $39,620. In 2004, he was ninth with 2,699 fish and $23,948.
Overall in 2006, 238,000 northern pikeminnows were caught.
The fish prey upon young salmon and steelhead migrating down the the Columbia and Snake toward the ocean.
The bounty is paid by the Bonneville Power Administration. The hydroelectric dams and reservoirs on the Columbia and Snake have improved habitat for pikeminnows and hurt salmon and steelhead populations.
Seventeen registration stations are scattered along the two rivers. Anglers must register in person each day before fishing.
Local registration stations are at the Port of Camas-Washougal boat ramp, Kalama Marina, M. James Gleason boat ramp in Portland, Chinook Landing in Troutdale, Cascade Locks boat ramp and Bingen Marina.
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