You can help save salmon and get paid to do it by going fishing! The Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Program, funded by the Bonneville Power Administration and administered by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, pays anglers for each northern pikeminnow that they catch that is nine inches or larger. Rewards range from $5 to $8 per fish, and special tagged fish are worth $500.
The program operates from May 1 to August 31, 2017** in the lower Columbia River (mouth to Priest Rapids Dam) and the Snake River (mouth to Hells Canyon Dam).
Northern pikeminnow eat millions of salmon and steelhead juveniles each year in the Columbia and Snake River systems. The goal of the program is not to eliminate northern pikeminnow, but rather to reduce the average size and curtail the number of larger, older fish. Reducing the number of these predators can greatly help the salmon and steelhead juveniles making it out to sea.
In 2016, the top twenty anglers caught an average of about 4,250 fish per angler and averaged reward payments of $36,000 each for the 5 month season. The highest paid angler earned $119,341. BPA funds the program to partially mitigate for the impact of the federal Columbia River hydroelectric system on salmon. Results indicate the program is successful. Since 1990, over 4.6 million northern pikeminnow have been removed by the Sport Reward Fishery. Predation on juvenile salmonids by northern pikeminnow has been reduced by up to 40% compared to levels of predation before the program began.
**A decision on a season extension into September will be made based on availability of funding.