$1.2M payout for pikeminnows this past season

PORTLAND, Ore. - Catching pikeminnow proved lucrative for anglers this year.

According to the Bonneville Power Administration, anglers raked in over $1.2 million for catching 173,112 of the fish. One angler alone earned $81,366 during the six-month season, $6,500 of which came from hooking 13 tagged fish (he broke an individual record).

The Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Program offers anglers cash for catching pikeminnow in the Columbia and Snake rivers. Pikeminnows eat millions of young salmon and steelhead every year.

"This program provides an opportunity to earn income, which is especially important during these tough economic times and it's good for salmon," Russell Porter, Senior Program Manager for the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, said in a news release. "We appreciate the effort of all those anglers who participated and we look forward to another successful year in 2011."

Anglers are paid $4 to $8 for northern pikeminnow that are nine inches or larger. They must be caught in the lower Columbia River (the mouth to Priest Rapids Dam) or the Snake River (from the mouth to Hells Canyon Dam). The more pikeminnow an angler catches, the more money they can make. The first 100 are worth $4 each, the next 300 are worth $5 each and after 400, they are worth $8 each. There are also tagged fish worth $500 each.

The program is now over for the year - the season ran from May 1 through Oct. 10 - but you can get learn what it takes to catch pikeminnow before next year. Check out for the complete rules and regulations. The video below, provided by the Bonneville Power Administration, has program details and fishing tips.

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