Recently I read something about Northern Pikeminnow and spawning barriers, and wanted to know more details about the topic. So, I did some research to get all the information about what these barriers are and how they affect the Northern Pikeminnow.
What is a spawning barrier for a Northern Pikeminnow? Spawning barriers are human-made physical barriers that block fish, such as Northern Pikeminow, from getting through to spawning grounds. These barriers include dams, culverts, and nets.
The path they take to spawn is known as a fish passage, which is important for their reproductive patterns.
The Northern Pikeminnow is an interesting species of fish that preys on valuable gamefish such as salmon and trout.
The damage caused by fish spawning barriers has been a conversation for years, but could it be intentional for these pesky predators?
Be sure to read my article on when Northern Pikeminnow spawn
What is a Fish Spawning Barrier For a Northern Pikeminnow?
Fish Spawning Barrier:
- Human-made blockage of fish passage
- Dams, Culverts, Nets, etc.
- Keeps fish from arriving to spawning grounds
A fish spawning barrier is a human-made blockage of a fish passage.
A fish passage is the pathway that they will follow in order to make it safely to their designated spawning grounds. Whether intentional or not, these barriers do not allow these fish to reproduce.
When the temperatures in the water rise during the Spring season, Northern Pikeminnow will begin the spawning process.
Just like many other species of fish, the Pikeminnow follow a migratory pattern on their path to reproduction.
In other words, both the male and female Northern Pikeminnow will travel together until they reach a safe place to reproduce, and the actual spawning process will begin. Since they must move away from their living and feeding grounds to reproduce, this is where spawning barriers come in.
This happens in both rivers and lakes, but most of their spawning destinations will take place within inlet streams.
They will usually cut their travel short after a few hundred meters, stopping at a few riffles above the lake.
During their migration to the spawning grounds, the male pikeminnow will follow the lead of the females.
Female pikeminnow have the capacity to lay almost one hundred thousand eggs while spawning, and they will take less than a week to hatch after the spawning has been completed.
Unfortunately, this cannot take place in the presence of a spawning barrier that would block them from getting through to their desired location.
Why Fish Migration is Important
- Travel to spawn
- Spawning means reproduction
- Preservation of species/population growth
Along with the Northern Pikeminnow, many species of fish follow migratory patterns in order to reproduce.
In other words, they travel to a specific area to begin the spawning process and give birth to more young.
Without being able to spawn, these fish would not be able to reproduce and create more generations of their own kind. This is problematic for the species as a whole, because the population will decrease if no more fish are born.
Environmental agencies have made efforts to remove a large percentage of these barriers around water areas, especially on the coast of California, in order to prevent the endangerment of these fish.
Although many concerns have presented themselves over the past several years about protecting various species of fish, could these spawning barrier efforts be intentional when it comes to Northern Pikeminnow?
After all, there is a Bounty Fishing Rewards Program for fishermen and anglers who catch and remove Pikeminnow from the water.
For each qualifying catch, they are rewarded with a cash voucher.
This program was created as a result of the Northern Pikeminnow ridding the lakes and rivers of desirable fish like salmon, trout, and bass.
With little to no value to humans, the pikeminnow has been regarded as a pest or a “trash fish” universally for years.
So, could fishing agencies be placing fish spawning barriers to intentionally block the Northern Pikeminnow from getting to their destination and creating more of a problem for their local water bodies?
Northern Pikeminnow Control: The Columbia River
Northern Pikeminnow Control:
- Implementation of spawning barriers
- Barriers created with nets
- Minimal decrease in population
The Columbia River, located in British Columbia, Canada, is home to one of the largest populations of Northern Pikeminnow in the world.
Over the years, it had been reported that the Northern Pikeminnow were eating salmonoids and smolt, or very small baby salmon, and it was becoming a huge problem.
As mentioned before, the Pikeminnow has very little value to humans. Although they are edible, they are rarely eaten or even considered by most people in the fishing community.
So, instead of catching the targeted salmon in the waters of the Columbia River, they were full of these”trash” pikeminnow.
As a result, a control program was implemented into the Columbia River, in order to limit the population of Northern Pikeminnow.
This does not come as a surprise, however, due to the fact that the removal of Northern Pikeminnow is so heavily encouraged all over the world.
It is no secret that fishing agencies want these fish gone and near extinct from the lakes and rivers where gamefish reside.
The control was enforced by the installation of nets as fish spawning barriers.
They were designed to keep this specific species away from the grounds in which they spawn and reproduce.
Despite the efforts to control the population, the volume of Northern Pikeminnow barely decreased.
This species of fish is still very present, not only just in Canada, but in bodies of water scattered all around the Northern Hemisphere.
To conclude, the Northern Pikeminnow has been viewed as a problem for several years in different bodies of water around the world. With their habits of eating everything they can get their hands on, from salmon to trout, they can stir up the ecosystem quite a bit.
With the implementation of fish spawning barriers, many species are not able to get through to reproductive areas, which is why environmental agencies have pushed back on the construction of these blockages.
However, could the practice of building man-made barriers against the Northern Pikeminnow in particular actually be beneficial to the other types of fish that survive around them?
How much money can be made with the Pikeminnow Bounty Fishing program?
Although the reward for catching and removing one pikeminnow is an average of $8 to $10, there are some very serious fishermen that do this professionally and actually make a living off of their catches. The most money that has ever been made through the program was approximately $70,000 for the year.
Are there any limits when it comes to fishing for pikeminnow?
Unlike many species of fish, there are no regulations and rules regarding how many pikeminnow can be caught and taken home in one day. In fact, there is a rewards program in place to compensate fishermen for extracting these fish from the water, since they frequently prey on salmon and other more desirable proteins.
What is the best way to catch pikeminnow?
While fishing for pikeminnow, the best bait to use is either live bait or some kind of fresh meat. Since pikeminnow are carnivorous fish, they will be interested in worms or chicken liver on your line. It is also a good idea to put a small weight on your fishing line in order to allow the Northern Pike bait to sink down to the same level of your target.