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Lower Number of Anglers Take Fewer
Northern Pikeminnow In 2017 Than In 2016

by Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin, December 15, 2017

$1.5 Million In Payouts

David Vasilchuk pulls in a net containing a pikeminnow that he quickly caught while bounty fishing on the Columbia Rive (Amanda Smith photo) About 1,100 anglers removed 191,483 northern pikeminnow from the Columbia and Snake rivers in 2017, with payments made by the Bonneville Power Administration to anglers of about $1,542,000.

The catch in the northern pikeminnow sport reward program is down from the 2016 tally of 225,226 of the fish, and the payments to anglers in 2016 were also higher at $1,767,526.

The BPA-funded program runs from May 1 through September 30.

"The program's goal is to reduce the number of pikeminnow that prey heavily on juvenile salmon," said Makary Hutson, BPA project manager. "Annual harvest rate estimates, which are calculated using data from tagged fish caught by anglers, indicate the 2017 season met our program targets, which directly benefits juvenile salmon making their way to the ocean."

Anglers who are registered with the pikeminnow sport reward program are paid $5 to $8 per fish, nine inches or longer. The more fish an angler catches during the season, the more each pikeminnow they reel in is worth. State fish and wildlife biologists also release more than 1,000 specially tagged northern pikeminnow, each worth $500.

The top 20 anglers earned an average of nearly $30,000 each. The top angler earned $83,877 reeling in 10,227 fish over the five-month season, BPA said in a news release. The second largest payment to an angler was $52,273 for catching 5,921 fish and the 20th place angler caught 2,202 fish, receiving a reward of $18,777.

The largest payment to an angler last year was $119,341 for catching 14,019 pikeminnow. The second place angler last year earned $55,245, catching 6,625 of the fish. The angler in 20th place caught 2,274 fish and was rewarded $18,469 for his effort.

Northern pikeminnow are voracious eaters, consuming millions of young salmon and steelhead listed under the federal Endangered Species Act every year. Since 1990, anglers paid through the program have removed more than 4.8 million pikeminnow from the Columbia and Snake rivers. The program has reduced predation on young salmon and steelhead by up to 40 percent since it began, BPA said.

The BPA-funded program is administered by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. The 2018 season is scheduled for May 1 through Sept. 30, 2018.

Operations of the program is a cooperative effort of the PSMFC, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. WDFW operates the 19 check stations and ODFW does the biological research, exploitation evaluations and tagging of a certain number of pikeminnow each year.

Based on 1983 -- 1986 research in the John Day reservoir, pikeminnow accounted for up to 80 percent of predation on salmonids. The conclusion is that the removal of 10 to 20 percent of predatory size pikeminnow could result in up to a 50 percent reduction in predation.

That exploitation rate is not met every year. The 2015 exploitation rate was 17.2 percent; 2014 was 11.5; 10.8 in 2013; 15.9 in 2012; 15.6 in 2011; and 18.8 in 2010. Anglers have failed to reach 10 percent in just two years -- 8.1 percent in 1993 and 9.6 percent in 1997.

The first tier of pricing for catches up to 25 fish is $5 per fish, up from $4 per fish last year. The second tier for catches 26 to 200 is $6, up from $5. The highest tier for catches over 200 remained the same at $8. For tagged fish -- ODFW tags some pikeminnow each year -- anglers receive $500.

The number of anglers is lower this year with about 1,100. Last year the number was about 3,000 and in 2015 it was 3,210. The number of anglers in 2014 was 2,773.

The area where anglers catch the most pikeminnow is just downstream of The Dalles Dam, where 44,623 fish were caught this year, with an average fish caught per angler of 10.1. At Bingen, about halfway between The Dalles and Bonneville Dam, anglers caught 7,147 (9.5 per angler) pikeminnow.

Some 5,373 pikeminnow (6.8 per angler) were caught at Cascade Locks, just upstream of Bonneville Dam and only 2,261 (8.7 per angler) were caught at Beacon Rock, just downstream of the dam. However, 12,466 (10.7 per angler) of the fish were reported at Washougal, 7,549 (6.6 per angler) at Chinook Landing and 6.946 (7.1 per angler) at the James Gleason Boat Ramp. All are downstream of Bonneville Dam and grouped within miles of each other.

Other areas of high catch are 24,406 (8.4 per angler) downstream of Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River, 16,300 (5.5 per angler) at the confluence of the Columbia and Snake Rivers, 13,396 (5.6 per angler) at Cathlamet in the lower Columbia River, 9,172 (5.9 per angler) downstream of Hells Canyon Dam, and 8,597 (8.1 per angler) downstream of John Day Dam.

For information about the Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Program, including how to catch the fish and how to register as a participant, as well as data about catch, call 800-858-9015 or visit

Related Sites:
Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Program Now Underway For Columbia/Snake Rivers by Staff, Columbia Basin Bulletin, 5/5/17
Pikeminnow Sport Reward Program Successful This Year; 225,000 Fish Caught, Top Angler Earns $119,000 by Staff, Columbia Basin Bulletin, 11/4/17
Council Approves Emergency Funds To Cover Shortfall For Pikeminnow Fishing Rewards Programby Staff, Columbia Basin Bulletin, 9/16/16

Lower Number of Anglers Take Fewer Northern Pikeminnow In 2017 Than In 2016
Columbia Basin Bulletin, December 15, 2017

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