PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A fisherman in Oregon earned six figures for removing thousands of problematic fish from the state’s rivers this summer, officials confirmed. The angler—taking part in the 2023 Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Program—caught 10,755 northern pikeminnows during the five-month season.
All told, he earned $107,800, according to data released by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC). That’s the second-highest earned in program history; the top prize was $119,341 in 2016, as reported by Field & Stream.
The northern pikeminnow, although native to the Pacific Northwest, eats millions of young salmon and steelhead per year, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates. Reducing pikeminnows helps the salmon and steelhead populations reach the ocean, officials say.
The program reportedly also “mitigates” the effect on the salmon and steelhead populations caused by hydroelectric power systems operated by the Bonneville Power Administration, which funds the rewards, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
During the 2023 season, which ran from May 1 through September 30, fishers were encouraged to catch northern pikeminnow of a certain size from the Columbia and Snake rivers to turn in. They got $6 per fish for the first 25, then $8 apiece for fish Nos. 26 through 200. Any fish above the 200 tally were worth $10.
Some specific fish were even worth between $200 and $500 apiece if it were determined that they had ingested passive integrated transponder tags that researchers had previously implanted in the juvenile salmon population, the PSMFC explained.
Officials with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife consider the program a success, estimating that around 5.3 million northern pikeminnow have been removed from the Columbia and Snake rivers since the program started in 1990. Next year’s Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Program is scheduled to run from May 1 through September 30.
Aside from the biggest earner, the second- and third-place anglers in the 2023 program earned $99,110 and $62,530, respectively. Washington and Idaho also operate similar programs.