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BPA Bumps Up the Bounty on Northern Pikeminnow

by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, June 3, 2004

Northern pikeminnow anglers will net more dollars this year.

The Bonneville Power Administration is raising the bounty it pays anglers who catch and turn in the native fish, which prey on salmon and steelhead smolts.

The bounty was raised as part of the agency's effort to reduce the amount of water spilled at Snake and Columbia river dams this summer.

Pikeminnow anglers will receive a $1 raise above previous prices for each fish they catch. They will now net $5 per fish for the first 100 fish they catch.

The bounty rises to $6 per fish for the next 300 fish. When anglers surpass the 400-fish mark, their reward climbs to $8 per fish. The reward for specially marked fish will rise from $100 to $500.

"We propose to increase the money available for rewards by $600,000 and to pay more for each fish turned in," said BPA spokesman Ed Mosey at Portland. "This should help offset the effects of reducing spill if we elect to do so."

The pay raise was effective Monday.

Each year anglers pull about 200,000 northern pikeminnows, formerly known as squaw fish, from the Snake and Columbia rivers. The idea is to reduce the population and thereby reduce the number of juvenile salmon and steelhead that fall prey to pikeminnows.

For several months, BPA officials have been trying to finalize a plan that would allow the agency to reduce the amount of water spilled at dams in July and August. The water is passed over the spillway of dams rather than run through turbines in an effort to help juvenile fall chinook survive their trip to the ocean.

The agency estimates it will save $35 million to $45 million by reducing spill in July and August.

But the agency has to come up with measures designed to make up for the number of fish expected to be killed by reducing summer flows.

According to the agency, the increased bounty on pikeminnow will increase the harvest of the fish by 20,000. It is estimated to cost an additional $600,000.

The agency tried to win approval to take additional water from Dworshak Reservoir during annual summer drawdowns, but those efforts have stalled.

Officials from BPA and Idaho Power Co. are negotiating over a plan to take the water from Brownlee Reservoir. An announcement about summer spill is expected soon.

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Eric Barker
BPA Bumps Up the Bounty on Northern Pikeminnow
Lewiston Tribune, June 3, 2004

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