A fishing program that pays cash to anglers who catch a predator that preys on young salmon and steelhead has been delayed due to COVID-19.
Last year, the top angler earned $53,107 by catching 6,482 fish. In prior years, top anglers have earned over $100,000.
The 2020 Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Fishery was scheduled to open May 1.
That has tentatively been rescheduled to May 11, organizers said, and continue through September 30, 2020.
"Stay at home orders issued in March by governors in Washington and Oregon closed or limited fishing and limited access to some recreational facilities, including boat ramps," the Bonneville Power Administration said. "Washington recently reopened many outdoor recreational activities on a limited basis, including opening most fishing seasons and allowing day-use of many boat ramps."
According to BPA:
While the lifting of these restrictions is good news for anglers eagerly awaiting the start of the Northern pikeminnow reward fishery program, when it opens anglers will see some changes to registration and turn-in procedures.
These changes are intended to protect the health and well-being of program employees and fishing enthusiasts.
Program participants should expect additional barriers, signs and floor markers at stations to encourage social distancing.
Anglers will be encouraged not to congregate in groups near registration stations and asked to unload their fish into designated containers.
What hasn't changed?
"Registered anglers will again earn $5 to $8 for each Northern pikeminnow that is at least 9 inches long," BPA said. "The more fish an angler reels in, the more each Northern pikeminnow is worth. Specially tagged Northern pikeminnow will be worth $500."
The Northern pikeminnow consume millions of young salmon and steelhead each year.
Since 1990, anglers involved in the sport-reward program have removed nearly 5 million Northern pikeminnow from the Columbia and Snake rivers.
"The program annually reduces predation from Northern pikeminnow on young salmon and steelhead by approximately 40%," BPA said.