Brian Davis with a morning’s catch of pikeminnow.

PORTLAND — Anglers can earn more money by catching northern pikeminnows in the Columbia and Snake rivers this year.

The Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery, which encourages people to catch and turn in the fish that eat millions of young salmon and steelhead each year, has boosted the bounty from $5, $6 or $8 per pikeminnow 9 inches or longer, to $6, $8 and $10.

It’s the first increase in the reward amounts since 2015. The sport reward season starts May 1 and continues through Sept. 30 in the lower Columbia River (mouth to Priest Rapids Dam) and the Snake River (mouth to Hells Canyon Dam).

Anglers will receive $6 for each pikeminnow longer than 9 inches for the first 25 fish turned in, $8 for each fish from 26 through 200, and anglers who catch at least 200 pikeminnows during the season will get $10 for each additional fish.

Specially tagged northern pikeminnow released by state fish and wildlife biologists into the Columbia and Snake rivers are each worth $200 to $500.

In addition to increasing reward amounts, program managers are making it easier to participate. Online registration and an app are expected to debut early in the 2022 season.

“These tools will make it more convenient for people to participate, particularly those who don’t live near a pikeminnow registration station,” said Eric Winther, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Columbia River Predator Control Program project leader. “Currently, people have to drive to a station and fill out paperwork before heading out to fish. Registering online or through the app means they can go directly to the river, spend more time fishing and make one trip to the station to turn in their catch.”

Eighteen full-time stations will operate during the five-month season, with two to four additional satellite stations opening later in the season. These satellite stations offer anglers additional pikeminnow harvest opportunities in areas with good fishing during short windows of time. Interested anglers are encouraged to get the latest information on the program website, www.pikeminnow.org, before heading out.

Since 1990, anglers paid through the program have removed nearly 5 million pikeminnow from the Columbia and Snake rivers. The 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. It has reduced predation from pikeminnow on young salmon and steelhead by approximately 40% since it began.

Details on how to register for the program and applicable state fishing regulations are also available on the program website. Anglers will find resources on the site, including maps, how-to videos and free fishing clinics, to help boost their fishing game.

For more information visit the program website or call 1-800-858-9015.

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