PORTLAND, Ore. – For the 23rd consecutive season, Oregon fishermen have met their goal of removing between 10% to 20% of a predatory species in the Columbia and Snake rivers.
As part of the Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Program, over 2,000 anglers removed over 100,000 pikeminnow that were 9 inches or longer last year.
"Northern pikeminnow is a native species that eats millions of juvenile salmon and steelhead each year in the Columbia and Snake river systems," says Eric McOmie, BPA program manager. "When we remove the larger northern pikeminnow, more young salmon and steelhead have a better chance of making it to the ocean and eventually returning to the basin as adults."
The program, funded by Bonneville Power Administration and administered by Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and the states of Oregon and Washington, has run for 30 years, typically from May 1 through Sept. 30. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak last spring, governors in Washington and Oregon closed or limited fishing in some areas and curtailed access to some boat ramps.
Those facilities were reopened later in May and the sport reward program began 11 days later than usual. To help make up for the delayed start, the season was extended to Oct. 11, 2020.
Registered anglers had the opportunity to make $5 to $8 for each northern pikeminnow at least 9 inches long, and specially tagged northern pikeminnow were worth $500.
The sport reward fishing program's goal is to reduce the number of larger northern pikeminnow in the Columbia and Snake rivers. Since 1990, anglers paid through the program have removed more than 5.2 million predatory pikeminnow.
Biologists estimate that the program has reduced predation on young salmon and steelhead by up to 40% from pre-program levels.
The 2021 season is expected to operate from May 1 through Sept. 30, 2021. For more information about the program, call 800-858-9015 or visit www.pikeminnow.org.