Sunday, May 1, marked the beginning of the Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Program in the Columbia and Snake Rivers, offering cash to anglers who catch the predatory fish.
Interested anglers can get information on pikeminnow fishing and learn the best techniques at www.pikeminnow.org
State fish and wildlife workers have specially tagged and released about 1,000 northern pikeminnow into the rivers worth $500 each.
The program also pays registered anglers $4 to $8 per fish, nine inches or longer.
The more fish an angler catches, the more each pikeminnow they hook is worth. Last year the top fisherman in the program earned more than $80,000 in just five-months of fishing.
Northern pikeminnow are voracious eaters, consuming millions of young salmon and steelhead each year. Research shows reducing pikeminnow numbers helps protect salmon and steelhead populations.
Since 1990, anglers paid through the program have removed nearly 4 million pikeminnow from the Columbia and Snake Rivers reducing predation on young salmon and steelhead by 35 percent.
The 2011 season for the pikeminnow sport-reward fishery began Sunday, May 1, and ends Sept. 30.
The program is administered by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration.