Earn cash for catching predatory pikeminnow in Columbia River’s bounty reward program

The Columbia River Northern Pikeminnow Bounty Fishing Reward Program gets underway May 1, and while funding looked limited early on, it now appears there will be enough to allow for a harvest level similar to last season.

“Following the 2016 season, as we began planning for the 2017 season, the default 2017 reward fund amount remained about the same (a roughly $1.8-million budget) as it had been prior to the 2016 season, which had not been adequate to cover total 2016 reward fund costs,” said Eric Winther, project leader for the state Fish and Wildlife Columbia River Predator Control Program.

Eric Winther, head of the state’s pikeminnow program, checks in with bounty fisherman David Vasilchuk.

At that time, Winther said, “it was proposed we should make anglers aware the season may have to end early (Aug. 31) if the reward fund remained at the old level, and was spent at a level predicted to be exhausted prior to Sept. 30.”

“The Pikeminnow Program has always had a cap on the reward fund, which could have resulted in an early closure to the program if the fund were exhausted,” Winther said. “This has only happened a few times over the past 26 seasons and when it has happened, BPA has chosen (although they were not obligated) to add additional dollars to the reward fund rather than to end the season early.”

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“The main point of the possible early end date is to simply emphasize that the reward fund (whatever level it is set at prior to the season) is a finite amount and that once it is spent, the season could end.“

Since then, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has decided to commit additional funds to the 2017 pikeminnow reward fund, which will allow for a 2017 harvest level comparable to 2016 (225,350 fish).

The cash-reward project funded by the BPA began in 1990, and has been open in past seasons from May 1 through the end of…

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