Northern pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus oregonensis)

Northern pikeminnow in a net on a dock
Northern pikeminnow (Jim Souders)
Category: Fish
Common names: Columbia River dace

Northern Pikeminnow are a native species that eats millions of juvenile salmon and steelhead each year in the Columbia and Snake River systems. 

Northern pikeminnow are managed in part through the Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Fishery Program, which aims not to eradicate Northern Pikeminnow, but rather to reduce their average size by removing 10 to 20 percent of the larger fish from their population. Reducing the number of larger Northern Pikeminnow and thus shrinking the average-sized fish in the population can greatly help juvenile salmon and steelhead make it to sea, since smaller sized Northern Pikeminnow eat fewer smolts than larger fish. See the Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Fishery Program page for more information.

State record

WeightAnglerLocationDate Caught
7.92 lbs Pamela A. Ramsden Snake River, Whitman County May 15, 2008

See all sportfish records

Where to fish

Lakes where this species may be found

Clallam County
Douglas County
Ferry County
Grays Harbor County
King County
Klickitat County
Lewis County
Mason County
Okanogan County
Skamania County
Stevens County

How to fish

Fishing prospects calendar

Fishing success for Northern Pikeminnow increases in May and June as water temperatures increase, and generally peaks in late June, although fishing conditions can vary throughout the Columbia River. After a lull during the heat of summer, fishing success peaks again in late September-early October. Northern Pikeminnow congregate in rocky areas with fast currents near dams, islands, stream mouths, points, eddies, rows of pilings, and ledges or bars in the river. Sunrise, sunset, and night are generally the best fishing times. Studies show there are greater concentrations of Northern Pikeminnow in shallow water during low-light conditions.

Chart of fishing prospects throughout the calendar year