The Columbia River Pikeminnow Bounty Fishery offers a unique experience for amateur anglers to create their own commercial and recreational opportunities
The northern pikeminnow bounty program runs from May 1 to Sept 31, and is part of the necessary predator management to conserve wild stocks of salmon and steelhead that are protected under the Endangered Species Act. The bounty covers northern pikeminnow caught by hook and line throughout the Columbia River system from as low as Cathlamet all the way upriver to Priest Rapids dam, including up above the four Snake River dams and into the Snake River basin.
Anglers are required to sign in everyday before they fish at one of the pikeminnow stations, and then return later that day when the station technician is there.
State technicians offer the bounty on any legal pikeminnow that is measured over nine inches and in fresh condition. Once the number of fish is added up, the technician gives the angler a voucher that has to be mailed in to receive payment.
The current pay scale is five dollars a fish for the first 25. Bounties on 26-200 fish are six dollars each, and from 201 fish and up, there's an eight-dollar bounty on each fish. That numeric figure includes the whole season, however it's not cumulative to each year so every year anglers begin again at zero.
In addition to the bounties on different quantities of fish, there are also tagged fish in the system worth $500. ODFW helps the program by tagging a certain number of larger pikeminnow both as a mark/recapture for the population as well as further incentive to get anglers involved in the program. Fish are double tagged with a spaghetti tag and a PIT tag, so if the spaghetti tag falls out, the pit tag will still remain. Tag "loss" fish that have the spaghetti tag fall out still bring a bounty of $100.
More info can be found on the pikeminnow bounty program website, www.pikeminnow.org
You can also learn more about the Pikeminnow bounty fishery through this episode of the program Anglers West.