Catch a fish, save a salmon — and make a little cash

Oregon Public Broadcasting —

At the Columbia Point boat ramp in Richland, Washington, retired firefighter Fred Ness brings a half dozen pikeminnow to the Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Program to get them measured and counted.

“I had a good friend that was doing it, and I thought ‘Well, I’ll try it,’” he said. “One thing led to another, and here I am: I’m addicted to it now.”

To the untrained eye, a pikeminnow looks a lot like a small salmon. It can live for a decade or more and reach a couple of feet in length. It’s also native to the Pacific Northwest.

But the most important thing to know about pikeminnow, at least for the purpose of Ness’ fishing habit and this story, is their diet: They eat baby salmon and steelhead. Lots of them. That makes them enemy number one for the Bonneville Power Administration, which spends millions of dollars trying to help young salmon reach the sea.

The BPA has decided pikeminnow pose a big threat, enough to justify putting a bounty on their slimy little heads. This year, a handful of new temporary stations are being added to encourage more people to take part.

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