Last updated on March 27th, 2022
Get Paid to Catch Invasive Fish – Really?
It is probably the last thing you think about when fishing. Whoever thinks about making money when enjoying the sport of fishing? The term “gone fishing” implies that you are off on a vacation, of sorts, away from the hustle and bustle of work, chores, and other obligations.
But what if you could make a few extra bucks without “working” (fishing doesn’t feel like work!), wouldn’t you?
Across North America, many invasive fish species are threatening the existence of native fish species. Many states and regions and conservation groups encourage the catching of these invasive species and some even reward you for your catch. Yes, fishing for these 4 non-native fish species can be both fun and profitable. Read on to find out which ones, where and how.
The Northern Pikeminnow (Squawfish) Sport Reward Program pays you to catch these non-native species of fish, plain and simple. In an effort to save salmon, the Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Program pays anglers for each Northern Pikeminnow caught over 9″. You can be paid between $5 and $8 for each fish but catching a specially tagged fish can net you a whopping $500.
The program runs from May 1 to September 30 in the lower Columbia River and Snake River in Oregon. Why this easy money? It is all for a good cause “Save a salmon and make money doing it” is their tagline.
Northern Pikeminnow consume millions of salmon and young steelheads annually and the program is designed to reduce their numbers to enable the salmon and steelhead to make it out to sea. In a five-month season, last year, the top anglers made $34,000 each. No small change for doing what you love.
One of the top threats to native species in North America is the Asian Carp. The Silver, Bighead, and Common Carp invasive fish, in particular, are responsible for endangering the multi-billion-dollar recreational fishing industry.
While the Asian Carp economic impact has been felt in many North American regions, the species remains in high demand in Asian countries, and exports of Carp is a booming business.
You can certainly join in on the action and enjoy the monetary benefits. Asian Carp are good to eat and some fish plants and even restaurants will gladly pay you for your catch. The Illinois Department of Natural resources also pays selected commercial fishing teams to catch as many Carp as possible, and the remuneration can be very rewarding.
Snakeheads, yet another invasive fish species, are reaping havoc in many ecosystems leading governments to offer incentives for catching and destroying these fish. In the past, The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has offered a $200 gift card to Bass pro shops if a fisherman hooked and killed a snakehead.
For this year, a “Stop the Snakehead” Fishing Derby, on May 21st, offers free registration and prizes. These Snakeheads are described as having sharp canine teeth that can easily bite through steel, grow up to 4 feet and can live on land for four days.
The giant Snakehead can grow as large as six feet and weigh up to 66 pounds. Catching Snakehead fish presents both challenges and rewards for the angler.
Lionfish derbies are a common event in sports fishing. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has many programs to encourage the catching of lionfish. These are invasive species that seriously threaten native species and habitats.
Commercial harvesters, divers, and anglers are encouraged to remove as many lionfish as possible from Florida waters. Lionfish, while a threat to native species, are a delicacy in many restaurants and they will gladly buy your catch. The FFWCC maintains a list of Florida wholesale dealers wanting to buy Lionfish and there are no daily limits on your catch.
If you want some extra cash while enjoying your fishing activities, check out your local wildlife and marine conservation agencies for details on programs and incentives offered in your area. Better than the cash, is that you will be making an invaluable contribution to the preservation and protection of valuable marine resources for generations to come.
Have you fished any invasive species or have something to add? We’d like to hear your input.
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Are snake head beatable?
Hello Tony. If by “beatable” you mean fully eradicating them, the answer is probably no. However, through fisheries management and various programs including rewards and incentives such as those mentioned in the article, they can be kept under control.
Is there something like this in Indiana? Asian carp are plentiful in the Wabash river.
Hey Chris. I don’t think Indiana has a reward program yet, though plenty of anglers are pushing for one to address problems such as the one you mention in the Wabash. I would check with the state’s Dept. of Natural Resources for more information. A reward program would certainly help to keep these pesky invaders in check.
Where do i sign up. I love fishing. Im from California
Hi, Arnoldo. If you want to learn more about invasive fish species programs in CA, you should contact your Department of Fish and Wildlife. The list of invasive species and programs is always evolving; they should be able to advise you on any current reward programs.
Definitely an interesting way of earning a few extra dollars, and as a bonus, help save the aquatic ecosystems! I also thought that Lion Fish were deadly, but perhaps that was only if you ate them, or prepared them wrong. I’m currently living in the UK, and I’m sure there are plenty of invasive fish species in the water here – I will have to find out whether there are any similar incentives here.
It’s the spines are venomous, once removed you can eat the fish- the meat isn’t poisonous.