Closing In On $350K Worth Of Pikeminnows

Nikolay Zaremskiy is on the doorstep of having earned a cool quarter million over the past five years catching pikeminnows — and nearly $350,000 since 2002.

With one month still to go in the sport reward fishery on the lower Columbia and Snake Rivers, the $54,000 worth of the fish he’s hauled in since the May 1 opener adds to the $45,567 he made in 2009, a record of  $57,772 in 2008, $46,400 in 2007, $45,351 in 2006 and a total of $99,000 during seasons from 2002 through 2005.

“He’s the top angler,” says Craig Miller at Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, which administers the program.

Miller adds that another high-earning fisherman, David Vasilchuk, is not that far behind this year.

Vasilchuk has netted $266,903 since 2003.

The two have been 1-2 among the top 20 anglers at the end of every season since 2005.

And with the thousands of pikeminnows they’ve caught so far during the 2010 season, they’re being paid in $8-a-pop increments when they bring their fish to check stations — $500 chunks if they catch specially tagged fish, of which Zaremskiy has reportedly caught 12.

Through last season, he had brought in a total of 37,889 pikeminnows since 2002, Vasilchuk 32,043 since 2003.

Both have been written about in local papers, including the Seattle Times, Salem Statesman-Journal, Forest Grove News Times and The Oregonian.

Others among the top 10 in recent years include David’s brother, Ivan, Thomas Papst, Timothy Histand, Viktor Orlovskiy and John Brown.

“People are making serious money with this program,” Russell Porter, also at PSMFC, told the Columbia Basin Bulletin for a story today. “And they’re having fun fishing while helping save young salmon. I encourage folks to come out with their families and give it a try. Even beginners can earn cash catching pikeminnow.”

Anglers are paid $4 apiece for their first 100 pikeminnows, $5 for the next 300, and then $8 for every fish after 400; last year, 92 anglers turned in more than 400.

The fishery aims to reduce the size of the native species by rewarding anglers for catching certain sized fish in an effort to reduce their predation on salmon and steelhead smolts. It’s been going on since 1990 and has yielded over 3.5 million pikeminnows.

The overall pikeminnow catch is also up this season, 30,000 above last year’s pace.

“It’s as good as we’ve had since 2007,” says Miller.

Through Aug. 22, 128,552 have been recorded at the program’s 21 stations everywhere from Cathlamet to Priest Rapids Dam to Clarkston; through Aug. 24, 2009, just under 100,000 had.

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