Fisherman earns over $100K for catching, removing problematic species from rivers

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A fisherman in Oregon has earned six figures for removing thousands of problematic fish from the state’s rivers this summer, officials have confirmed.

The angler, who was taking part in the 2023 Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Program, had specifically caught 10,755 of the fish during the five-month season, earning a total of $107,800, according to data released by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC).

The winnings are the second-highest earned in program history, with the top prize bringing in $119,341 in 2016, as reported by Field & Stream.

The northern pikeminnow, while native to the Pacific Northwest, eat millions of young salmon and steelhead per year, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates. By reducing their numbers, fishermen are helping the salmon and steelhead population reach the ocean, officials say.

The program reportedly also “mitigates” the effect on the salmon and steelhead population caused by hydroelectric power systems operated by the Bonneville Power Administrations, which funds the rewards, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

During the 2023 season, which ran from May 1 through Sept. 30, fishermen were encouraged to catch northern pikeminnow (of a certain size) from the Columbia and Snake rivers to turn in for rewards. Anglers could earn $6 per fish for the first 25 caught, then $8 apiece for 26–200 fish caught. Fishermen who caught 201 or more earned $10 per fish.

Some specific fish were even worth between $200 and $500 apiece, if it was determined they had ingested Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags that researchers had previously implanted in the juvenile salmon population, the PSMFC explained.

Aside from the biggest earner, the second- and third-place anglers in the 2023 program earned $99,110 and $62,530, respectively.

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 Columbia and Snake rivers since the program started in the 1990.

Washington and Idaho also operate similar programs.

Next year’s Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Program is scheduled to run from May 1, 2024, through Sept. 30, 2024. Source