by Pete Heley
Through late last month, the top earner in the Bonneville Power Administration's pikeminnow program had earned about $36,000. Considering that the five-month-long program was less than 60 percent completed, that's a pretty good chunk of money. The program ends Sept. 30.
More detailed information about the program is available online at: www.pikeminnow.org, but here is the gist of it.
The pikeminnows must be nine inches long or larger. Anglers must check in at one of the registration offices prior to starting fishing, and must turn in their catch at the same office after fishing. They will receive vouchers for the amount of money owed them. The vouchers must be mailed in to actually get the money. The first 100 pikeminnows are worth $4 each. The next 300 are worth $5 each and every pikeminnow thereafter is worth $8 each. Some pikeminnows wearing special tags are worth $500 each, and through the end of July, 111 of them had been caught.
Here's how I would go about sampling the program. First, I would take a close look at the seven Oregon registrations stations, since I do not have a Washington fishing license. The four such stations within 300 miles of Reedsport are: Rainier Marina; the M. James Gleason Boat Ramp and the Chinook Landing, which are both near Portland and each have a $5 launching fee; and The Dalles Boat Basin.
Since Rainier Marina has a $2 daily launching fee and The Dalles Boat Basin has free launching, The Dalles registration site moves to the head of the list. Since the first three registration sites had daily pikeminnow catch rates of three fish or less and The Dalles site had an average daily catch rate of eight fish, it appears to be a clear choice for checking out pikeminnow program.
If you were able to maintain the average daily catch rate at The Dalles, those eight fish would bring you $32 for your first 100 fish, $40 per day for your next 300 fish and $64 per day thereafter and those catch rates include anglers checking into a registration site and only fishing for a short period of time. Someone serious about catching pikeminnows should be able to exceed the average daily catch and make a decent amount of money each month.
Survival of Snake River Salmon & Steelhead Data compiled July 2004 by www.bluefish.org
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