The Dalles Boat Basin appears on trend in 2018 to keep the title of most successful
Northern Pikeminnow Sports Reward station, even though catches have been much smaller this year due to high river levels and fast current.
The Dalles, one of 19 northern pikeminnow stations, has accounted for more than one quarter of the bounty fish caught so far this year. This is in line with the past four years when The Dalles was first in numbers three times and second once, and accounted for an average 18 percent of the take.
The marina is always bustling at this time of year as anglers come from far and wide to get paid to go fishing. The Dalles is typically the most popular station early on in the season. Rewards range from $5 to $8 per fish, with the highest bounties going to the anglers who catch more than 200 fish in any given day. A limited number of tagged fish are also released into the system and are worth $500 each.
Northern Pikeminnow are predators that feed on salmon smolt, the young fingerlings headed downriver. The program is aimed at protecting the Columbia River salmon runs. The Dalles is the station of choice early in the 24-week season because it warms up here earlier than it does elsewhere on the river.
However, weekly catches are quite a bit lower than normal this year. During the last week of May over the past four years, the catch was between 4,000 and 5,500 fish and accounted for between one third and one half of the total system catch. During the week of May 21-28, only 1,318 fish were caught at The Dalles station, about 23 percent of the system’s 6,626 total.
Northern Pikeminnow Sports Rewards can pay off big for the most dedicated anglers. The top 20 anglers last season caught an average of about 3,530 fish per angler and averaged reward payments of $30,000 each for the five-month season. The highest paid angler in 2017 earned $83,877 and caught 10,277 fish.
For more information about the program, go to www.pikeminnow.org.