A larger Columbia Basin snowpack and bigger flows looked like they might impact this year’s northern pikeminnow sport reward fishery, but anglers did well during the just-concluded season, though brought in fewer than last year.
“So that means the 2017 season was a good, solid, above-average season, especially given the high water early in the year, which typically puts a damper on overall harvest,” notes manager Eric Winther.
From May 1 through Sept. 30, 191,218 qualifying pikeminnow were brought in to check stations up and down the Columbia between Cathlamet and Tri-Cities, as well as the Snake below Clarkston.
That’s the third most over the past decade, but a drop off from 2016’s 225,350, which is the fifth most since the program’s inception in 1991 to tamp down predation by the native species on salmon and steelhead smolts migrating through the hydropower system.
The average over that period is 176,000, according to Winther. High mark is 2004’s 267,414, while the lowest was 1994’s 104,536.
Anglers are paid $5 apiece for their first 25 qualifying fish, $6 for their next 175 and $8 each for numbers 200 and beyond. The program resumes May 1, 2018.
Winther says it’ll take awhile to compile all of this year’s data, and the deadline for anglers to turn vouchers in isn’t until mid-November.
But he says it looks like last year’s top fisherman didn’t come close to matching their record haul of $119,341 from 14,019 fish.
The Dalles was the most productive station, with 44,667 qualifying pikeminnows, followed by Boyer Park at 24,037, Columbia Point at 16,227, Cathlamet at 13,386 and Washougal at 12,445.
Average catch on the season was 7.4, with a range from 11.0 at Ridgefield to 1.6 at Umatilla.
A total of 265 tagged fish worth $500 each were turned in.
Effort was 25,959 on the season.
For more details, including fishing maps, check out pikeminnow.org.