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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

May 16, 2011 at 7:21 PM

Pesky pikeminnow catches ramping up on Columbia River

Here is an update on the Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Program happening on the Columbia River.

The eight day harvest total as of May 9, 2011 was 2,799 pikeminnow from 1,370 anglers.

The new totals for last week are 1,144 anglers harvested 4,084 pikeminnow with a catch average of 3.6 fish per rod with five tags recovered.

Year to date totals of 2,514 anglers with 6,883 fish, and catch average of 2.6 fish per rod with 15 tags recovered.

“We are about 9,300 fish behind where we were this time last year, but with the water temps being about three degrees colder this year (53.3 degrees at Bonenville Dam), everything seems a bit later, according to Eric Winther, the state Fish and Wildlife Project Leader for the Columbia River Predator Control Program in Vancouver.

Northern pikeminnow, a large member of the minnow family, are known to eat millions of young salmon and steelhead, and other fish like bass, walleye and shad in the Columbia and Snake rivers each year.

Last year’s total catch was 173,981 fish on 25,271 angler trips.

There is a reward program from May 1-Sept. 30 that offers a bounty on fish measuring 9 inches or longer.

The more northern pikeminnow an angler catches, the more the fish are worth. The first 100 are worth $4 each; the next 300 are worth $5 each, and after 400 fish are caught and turned in, they are worth $8 each. As an added incentive, specially tagged fish are worth $500.

Only fish caught from the Columbia mouth to Priest Rapids Dam, and from the Snake mouth to Hells Canyon Dam are eligible.

There are 21 check stations along both rivers. Anglers must register each day before fishing.

Catches must be checked in at the station each day, and reward vouchers will be given. For details, call 800-858-9015 or visit the Pikeminnow Reward Program website.

To help anglers, there will be a pikeminnow clinic at 5:30 p.m. on May 26, and 3:30 p.m. on June 11 at Bob’s Sporting Goods in Longview (800-292-5551).

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