Small Fish Big Payout: Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Fishery Program


Small Fish Big Payout: Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Fishery Program

The numbers for last year’s Pikmonnow reward programs are out. One angler spent their summer from May to September targeting the northern pikeminnow. It netted themself nearly $70,000 in bounties for their catch from the Colombia or Snake rivers in Washington state. Last year, the top earner in the Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Program was rewarded with $69,230 for the Northern Pikeminnows they turned in. Second place for last year netted themself a cool $63,700 in bounties for the pikeminnows they turned in. The rewards given out for last year were higher than they had been in 2021. This is due to the reward program raising the bounties being paid per fish turned in. In previous years the payments started at $5 per fish, but this year the program paid $6 each for the first 25 pikeminnows. Then paid $8 each for 26 to 200 pikeminnows and $10 for each fish after the first 200 fish turned in during the season.

The Northern Pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus oregonensis) surprisingly isn’t an invasive species in the river systems for the rewards though. They are a native species that unfortunately is putting tons of pressure on the juvenile salmon and steelhead each year in the Columbia and Snake River system. Due to the imperiled nature of the salmon and steelhead stock and the pikeminnows eating millions of juveniles each year, the Pikeminnow Program was created. The goal of which is not to eradicate the minnows but instead curb their numbers and average size. Removing about 10 to 20 percent of the larger fish in the population will greatly help the juvenile salmon and steelhead make it to the sea. The smaller average-sized population of minnows wouldn’t be able to eat as many smolts on their way to the ocean.

Over the past ten years (2011-20), the top 20 anglers caught an average of 3,353 fish per angler and averaged reward payments of $27,836 each for the five-month season. The highest-paid angler in 2020 caught 5,579 fish and earned $48,501, while the all-time record harvest is 14,109 Northern Pikeminnow worth $119,341!

To see more information about this program and possibly make yourself some money for fishing this summer check them out here.

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Fishing Writer for An avid angler since I was little, based out of the South East United States.

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