Catch fish, earn money. It was that simple for an angler who pocketed $61,000 during the Summer of 2021 by catching fish from the Columbia and Snake rivers. He, along with hundreds of other anglers in Washington and Oregon, participated in an ongoing program funded by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) that pays anglers a bounty on northern pikeminnow, a native species that is known for its voracious appetite for salmon and steelhead smolts. In order to earn $61,000, which was the most someone earned through the program in 2021, the leading angler (who wishes to remain anonymous) removed 7,185 pikeminnows, including 7 tagged fish, while his wife picked up another 1,700.
In 2021, anglers were paid $5 for their first 25 fish over 9 inches, $6 each for 26 to 200, and $8 for every fish after that. Tagged fish were worth $500 each. According to the BPA, bounties will be increased for the 2022 season, which will run from May 1 through the end of September. The payment for an angler’s first 25 fish over 9 inches will be bumped to $6 per fish. Fish 26 through 200 pay $8, and any fish over that earn $10 each. The reimbursement for tagged pikeminnow will remain at $500 each. Moreover, anglers will receive $10 just for registering for the program. Participating anglers will be required to register daily at state fish and wildlife agency-operated check stations located along the Columbia and Snake river systems. There is no limit on the number of fish an angler can submit for payment.