Northern Pikeminnow

What is Northern Pikeminnow?

Looking for details on Northern Pikeminnow in Oregon? Look no further. Here is everything you need to know. Pikeminnow is a native fish that can be found on the Pacific slope. It is a member of the Minnow family, and it used to be called Northern Squawfish.

This fish is easily identifiable by its long snout, as well as the fact that it has a large mouth and a dark green and silver body. Northern Pikeminnow preys heavily on juvenile salmon and steelheads. Pikeminnow is often confused with Peamouth, but the two are completely different species.

What is the difference between Pikeminnow and Peamouth?

A pikeminnow's head is flatter (mainly between the eyes), while the Peamouth's head is rounder. Pikeminnow's snout is longer and larger than Peamouth, and its mouth ends at the eye (wide, large mouth). It has no barbels at the mouth. Distinguishing between the two fish is important. Note that Peamouth poses no threat to the ecosystem or any other fish.

Northern Pikeminnow
Northern Pikeminnow

Using Bait

When fishing for Northern Pikeminnow in Oregon, using bait, especially worms, is a very common way to catch these fish. You need to make sure that your weights weigh approximately one to two ounces. Making sure you use the right size hooks is important. Number two hooks are a good choice and bank sinkers, as well as swivels, are very helpful.

Worms have been shown to be the most successful type of bait when fishing for Pikeminnow. Chicken liver has also had some success. There are a number of other baits that can be used with varying amounts of success, including fish entrails, grasshoppers, shrimp and salmon eggs.

Soft plastic grubs can also be used as bait. The bait you are using should be between 3 and 6 inches. Try and use a different color every 15 minutes, depending on what type of results you are getting.

There is evidence that during the night Northern Pikeminnow often is attracted by purple, glittering plastic grubs (often with green glitter). Black glitter and orange/brown color bodies are also very helpful.

During the day, it is most helpful to try light colors, as well as grubs with glitter.


In summary:

  • Worms are the most effective as bait
  • Chicken liver, fish entrails, grasshoppers, shrimp and salmon eggs are also effective
  • Plastic grubs are effective in the following colors: purple (green glitter), black glitter, orange/brown color, light colors.


Plunking is a successful method when it comes to fishing for Northern Pikeminnow. It entails using enough weight to prevent the bait from moving too far away.

Back-bouncing is another successful method and entails lifting the bait off of the bottom by occasionally raising the rod tip. This is helpful when fishing from a boat. Drift fishing can also be used.

In Summary:

  • Plunking in the most popular, effective method
  • Back-bouncing is also successful (especially from a boat)

How to Use Northern Pikeminnow?

Pikeminnow or squawfish is rich in protein, have a lean tasty flesh but a complicated bone structure. The best way to cook it is pickling and smoking younger and smaller fish. It is resident species and bigger and older fish accumulate more contaminants (PCBs, dioxins, pesticides, and mercury) than younger.

The Pikeminnow Sports-Reward Program offers rewards for catching pikeminnow over 9'' in the lower Columbia River and Snake River in the Oregon and Washington states.

Pikeminnow Sports-Reward Program

One of the best reasons to focus on catching Northern Pikeminnow in Oregon and Washington is the sports reward program. This program is an excellent way to earn Bonneville Power Administration, and it is administered by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. This program works on a commission basis, and it pays for every Northern Pikeminnow that is caught, as long as the fish is over nine inches long.

This year, the program runs from May to August, inclusive. It focuses on the lower Columbia River and the Snake River, where these fish are not natives.

The reason for this program is the following: Northern Pikeminnow are predators, and they prey on salmon and steelheads, fish that are native to these rivers. This is a huge problem, as many of the salmon and steelheads that are eaten are young. This means that the numbers making it to sea are significantly reduced, and their populations are suffering as a result.

The goal of the rewards program is to reduce the average size and number of the Northern Pikeminnow, thus restoring the natural balance. There has been a 40% reduction of salmon and steelheads being preyed on since the program was first started.

The program itself is a pretty big earner. The top twenty anglers of 2016 averaged payments of $36,000 for the season, and the highest earner was paid $119,341.

When an angler catches their first 25 fish, they are paid $5 each. Between 25-200, anglers are paid $6 per fish; and from 200 upwards, anglers are paid $8. Certain Northern Pikeminnow are worth $500 each.

Sports Reward Program pays per fish over 9 inches in 2017

0-25 Fish - $5
26-200 Fish - $6
201+ Fish - $8
Tagged Fish - $500

The main aim is to reduce the number of salmon and steelheads being preyed on by the Northern Pikeminnow. For this reason, no any fishing limit on size and number of Northern Pikeminnow.

If you are an angler fishing for the Northern Pikeminnow, you can rest easy knowing that you are doing it for a great cause. It is a good, simple fish to catch in a great part of the country and is definitely worth your time. Looking for a fishing challenge? Northern Pikeminnow in Oregon might just be the way to go.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.