The Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Program has started, and here are the first week’s catches along the Columbia River.
The harvest total between May 1-7 was 8,201 pikeminnow for 1,829 anglers with a catch average of 4.5 fish per angler and seven tags recovered. There was one tagged fish for every 1,770.6 pikeminnow caught.
The best catches occurred at The Dalles with 8.8 fish per rod for 486 anglers with 4,282 fish; Beacon Rock with 6.6 for 20 with 131; Bingen with 6.1 for 35 with 215; Columbia Point with 5.3 for 334 with 1,767; and Rainier with 4.0 for 36 with 144.
The reward program helps get rid, but not eliminate these juvenile salmon- and steelhead-devouring native predators better known as “squawfish.” The goal of the program is to reduce the average size and curtail the number of larger, older fish.
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Since its conception, more than 4.6-million northern pikeminnow have been removed by the program reducing them by up to 40 percent compared to levels of predation before the program began.
In 2016, the top twenty anglers caught an average of about 4,250 fish per angler, and averaged reward payments of $36,000 each for the five-month season.
The highest paid angler earned $119,341 with 14,019 fish caught and 12 tags; second was paid $55,245 with 6,625 and five tags; third was paid $53,165 with 6,389 and four tags; fourth was paid $47,817 with 5,561 and seven tags; and fifth was $39,057 with 4,688 and four tags.
The total catch in 2016 was 225,350 fish for 27,775 anglers with 288 tags turned in for an average of 8.1 fish per rod.
The best catches occurred during the week ending on May 8, 2016 when 14,772 anglers caught 15,029 fish on June 12; 1,745 had 14,345 on June 5; and 1,706 had 14,054 on May 22. The highest catch ratio occurred at the end of September with a 10.5 to 12.5 fish per rod average.
In 2015, the catch total was 200,213 reward-size northern…