LONGVIEW — The northern pikeminnow sport-reward fishery season has been extended for two weeks, through Oct. 17, at certain local registration stations, giving anglers more time to turn in the fish that preys on young salmon.
Anglers have caught more than 68,000 qualifying fish so far in the 31st season of the program and are paid $5 to $8 for each qualifying northern pikeminnow. Specially tagged fish are worth $500 each. Eligible fish must be at least nine inches long.
Northern pikeminnow consume millions of young salmon and steelhead each year. Anglers have been paid to catch and remove them since 1990. The reward program is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration and administered by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission in cooperation with the Washington and Oregon departments of fish and wildlife.
More than five million pikeminnow have been removed through the program from the Columbia and Snake rivers since then, resulting in annually reducing predation on young salmon and steelhead by approximately 40%, according to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife press release.
“This is the time of year when catch rates are historically the highest of the season, and it’s great that we can offer people a couple of extra weeks to be rewarded for fishing,” Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife project manager Eric Winther said. “Northern pikeminnow are a primary fish predator on juvenile salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake river systems, and managing these populations is a key element of predator management in the basin.”
The fishery’s regular-season check stations will be open through Sept. 30, as planned. After Sept. 30, 12 stations will remain open: Cathlamet, Willow Grove, Ridgefield, Chinook Landing, Washougal, Stevenson, The Dalles, Giles French, Columbia Point, Vernita, Boyer Park and Greenbelt.