Many anglers would probably love to be paid to catch fish. In the Pacific Northwest, you can get paid for catching pikeminnow.
From May 1 through August 31, anglers can get paid between $5-$8 per Northern pikeminnow caught from the Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Program.
Each fish has to be 9 inches or longer. Special tagged pikeminnows are worth $500.
Why pay to have these fish caught? To save salmon.
Northern pikeminnows feed on juvenile salmon and steelhead. That translates to millions of young salmon lost in the Columbia and Snake river systems.
The program is in effect in the lower Columbia River (mouth to Priest Rapids Dam) and the Snake River (mouth to Hells Canyon Dam) in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
The idea isn’t to eliminate the pikeminnow. Rather, it’s to reduce the adult population so that more young salmon and steelhead can reach the ocean.
Does it work?
The program says that more than 4.6 million northern pikeminnows have been caught since 1990. That translates to 40% less young fish eaten by the predator compared to before the program started.
Is it worth it for anglers? You, bet. The program keeps track.
Last year, the top 20 anglers earned about $36,000 from catching about 4,300 of the fish each. The top earner hauled in a whopping $119,000.
Anglers have to register at stations along the program river sections before fishing. Pikeminnows caught must be turned into the same station for payment.
The program is administered by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and funded by the Bonneville Power Administration.
The program could be extended, depending on funding.