Anglers removed more than 140,000 destructive northern pikeminnows in the Snake and Columbia rivers in 2022, and made $1,367,398 dollars for their gamefish-aiding fishing efforts, according to the Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Program.
The program is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), which pays registered pikeminnow anglers $6 to $10 per fish that is nine inches or longer. Anglers are rewarded more money for the more pikeminnows they land. State fisheries folks also release hundreds of tagged northern pikeminnow in the targeted rivers, with each tagged fish paying a bonus bounty from $200 to $500.
Almost 1,200 anglers registered with the Pikeminnow Reward Program that ran from May 1 through September 30, 2022. The top angler in the program had nearly 7,000 pikeminnows turned in, and he pocketed $69,230.
He wasn’t the only fishermen chasing pikeminnows that scored big bucks. The top 20 anglers in the conservation program pocketed nearly $500,000, with the 20th place fisherman even making over $20,000 in pikeminnow bounties.
The bumper crop of pikeminnows hauled from the Snake and Columbia rivers is believed to have aided the preservation of hundreds of thousands of small steelhead and salmon from predation.
The BPA funds the pikeminnow program to help mitigate hydroelectric dam impacts on the Columbia River.
In the 32 years of the reward program, well over 5 million salmon and steelhead-eating pikeminnows have been removed from the Columbia and Snake rivers by anglers. Biologists believe this program has reduced salmon-steelhead predation by pikeminnows by 40 percent since the program began.
The program target isn’t to eliminate all pikeminnows, but to reduce the species size and remove larger, older fish. Reducing such pikeminnows greatly aids salmon and steelhead juveniles to migrate from rivers to the open ocean where they grow, returning to rivers as adults to spawn.