Pikeminnow Season Extendedby Staff
The News Tribune, August 29, 2010
While this year's northern pikeminnow reward program is running ahead of last year, officials have opted to extend the season.
The annual program that pays anglers for catching these fish that prey on salmon and steelhead smolts, started May 1 and was scheduled to close Sept. 30. Program managers have extended the season by 10 days this year, allowing rewards through Oct. 10. The program covers the Columbia and Snake rivers and is administered by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and funded by the Bonneville Power Administration.
Managers are crediting this year's success on lower, warmer water conditions. Compared to this time last year, the 2010 season numbers are ahead by 30,000 fish, said a Bonneville Power news release.
The bumper crop of fish also means some big dollars for anglers.
One person has broken the individual record for catching specially tagged fish that are worth up to $500. He has hooked 12 tagged fish and earned $6,000 in the process. Thousands of tagged fish are still available.
And with nearly two months to go in the season, another angler has earned more than $51,000, approaching the record of nearly $58,000 for individual earnings.
So far this season, 115,878 pikeminnow have been caught, with more than $650,000 in payoffs to anglers. Anglers get paid $4 to $8 for northern pikeminnow nine inches and larger caught in the lower Columbia (from the mouth to Priest Rapids Dam) and Snake (from the mouth to Hells Canyon Dam). The more pikeminnow an angler catches, the more the fish are worth. The first 100 are worth $4 each, the next 300 are worth $5 each, and after 400 fish are caught and turned in, they are worth $8 each. As an added incentive, specially tagged fish are worth $500.
Since 1991, more than 3 million pikeminnow have been removed from the Snake and Columbia rivers through the program, the news release said. Last year, anglers caught approximately 142,000 pikeminnow.
As a result of these efforts, pikeminnow predation on juvenile salmon is estimated to have been cut by 40 percent.
While the season is being extended, some stations will close and hours will change for others. Anglers should check www.pikeminnow.org or call toll free 800-858-9015 for details.
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