Editor’s note: Here’s an update on this story.
Pikeminnow anglers will have a month less time to make their money this year, unless extra funding is found to cover September.
The fishery on the Columbia and Snake Rivers to protect outmigrating salmonid smolts saw high effort and harvest last year, busting the Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Program‘s $1.5 million annual budget.
Though that was hastily patched with an extra $350,000 awarded by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, it’s not clear if that will be an option this year, so managers are planning for an earlier end to the fishery, though say it could be extended.
“Because of the cost overrun, the 2017 NPMP sport-reward season will end in August with the possibility of extending the fishery through September based on the availability of funds,” ODFW Columbia River manager Tucker Jones will report to his commission later this week.
Last September saw a strong end to the season in terms of catch per angler, with 10.5 and 12.5 fish at midmonth, 2016’s best. Mid- to late spring saw the highest catches, up to 15,029 in one one-week period, as well as highest effort.
All totaled in 2016, 225,350 were brought into catch stations between Cathlamet and Clarkston for rewards ranging from $5 to $8 per pikeminnow, with tagged ones good for as much as $500.
Last year’s top angler caught 14,019, including 12 tagged fish, earning them $119,341.
The program has been in place for over two and a half decades. Pikeminnow are a native predator, but with the dams, the idea is to shift their population structure towards smaller fish that eat less smolts.
It’s funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, administered by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and implemented by ODFW and WDFW.
This year’s fishery is scheduled to run May 1-Aug. 31.