While many anglers fish for pikeminnows in the lower Columbia and Snake rivers in hopes of collecting bounties, they also catch plenty of other fishing, including smallmouth bass.
“I always thought it (catch statistics) could be of some use to anglers fishing the Columbia and Snake who are not obsessed with only salmon and steelhead,” said Eric Winther, pikeminnow manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Typically, fishermen catch the greatest number of warmwater species at the Columbia Point station in the Tri-Cities (Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland). During the week of July 7-14, they boated 949 pikeminnows and 601 smallmouths, with Greenbelt and Lyon’s Ferry yielding more than 1/3 of the bass.
In 2013, pikeminnow anglers landed nearly 9,000 smallmouth bass, along with more than 4,000 sturgeon and nearly 1,500 channel catfish.
Operating from May 1 to Sept. 30, the program pays $4 to $8 for each pikeminnow caught that measures 9 inches or longer.
Formerly called northern squawfish, the pikeminnow is a native species that resembles a walleye. Impoundments on the rivers have enabled it to become a much more effective predator of young salmon and steelhead.
Since 1990, more than 4.2 million pikeminnows have been removed through the bounty program.