An Oregon fisherman has taken home a grand prize after helping capture and remove thousands of problematic fish throughout the state’s rivers.
The angler earned $107,800 in bounties after taking part in the 2023 Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Program.
The Oregon resident caught 10,755 Northern Pikeminnows during the season from May through September, according to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC).
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The individual with the second-highest number of northern pikeminnow caught (9,786) received $99,110 in bounties.
The Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Program is a recurring summer conservation bounty program that anglers throughout the state of Oregon can participate in.
“The program runs each summer from May 1 to September 30 and doles out significant cash to hundreds of anglers for removing pikeminnow—a species known to prey on salmon and steelhead smolt,” Field and Stream reported.
In order to have been considered a catch worthy of the bounty, the fish brought into a registration station had nine inches or longer, shared the PSMFC.
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The more fish brought in by an angler, the more cash prizes they would receive.
“The first 25 in one season are worth $6 each; after 25, they’re worth $8 each; and after 200 they’re worth $10 each,” the PSMFC shared on its website.
“Special tagged Northern Pikeminnow will be worth $200 – $500 again this year,” the site continued.
A total of 156,505 pikeminnows were creeled by 11,954 anglers in the 2023 season.
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“Harvest was very close to the 32-year average of 160,000 and effort increased by more than 10 percent,” Eric Winther, program manager, told Northwest Sportsman Magazine.
Winther reported that the best spot for catching the pikeminnows was near Bonneville Dam along the Columbia River.
The top angler this year earned the second-highest payout in the program’s history and creeled the fourth-highest pikeminnow caught, Northwest Sportsman Magazine reported.
The highest bounty that has gone out to an angler was $119,341 in 2016 after removing 14,019 pikeminnows during the program, Field and Stream stated.
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The program is funded by theBonneville Power Administration (BPA) which helped raise the bounties last year in an effort to increase participation.
This year’s bounty was the same as 2022, the Northwest Sportsman Magazine stated.
Northern pikeminnows have played an active role in the Columbia and Snake River systems in Oregon, eating millions of salmon and steelhead juveniles, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported.
“The goal of the program is not to eliminate northern pikeminnow, but rather to reduce the average size and curtail the number of larger, older fish,” the state department continued.
“Reducing the number of these predators can greatly help the salmon and steelhead juveniles making it out to sea.”
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