It’s time to start catching those pesky juvenile salmon and steelhead eating northern pikeminnows in the Columbia River, and earn some cash while you do it.
The Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Program started this past week, and runs through kicks off Tuesday, May 1 through Sept. 30.
Each year northern pikeminnow eat millions of young salmon and steelhead.
For the past 21 years, the Bonneville Power Association’s sport-reward program has reduced predation on these fish of concern with more than 4-million fish removed from the waters.
Fish that are turned in as part of the reward program are used in liquid organic fertilizer for agriculture and fish meal for poultry and dairy cattle feed.
The total catch in 2012 was 157,846 fish for 3,302 anglers.
“Our peak – our best fishing – is usually about the third week of June,” Eric Winther, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist said in a news release. “With things lining up with the river conditions, the fishing should just keep getting better between now and then.”
The more northern pikeminnow an angler catches, the more the fish are worth. The first 100 are worth $4 each; the next 101 to 400 fish are worth $5 each, and after 401 and above are caught and turned in, they are worth $8 each. As an added incentive, specially tagged fish are worth $500. Minimum size is 9 inches.
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 www.pikeminnow.org.
(Photos by Seattle Times staff photographer)