Columbia River Research Laboratory
Northern Pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus oregonensis)
The Northern Pikeminnow, a large member of the minnow family (Cyprinidae), is native to the Columbia River, its tributaries and several other locations in western North America. It is abundant in the main stem Columbia and Snake rivers, where it reaches lengths to about two feet. It has a long snout and large mouth, greenish back and sides, yellow or white belly, and opaque fins. Northern Pikeminnow are know as opportunistic predators once they are longer than about 10 inches, consuming primarily invertebrate and vertebrate prey. Their diet includes a variety of items including crawfish, aquatic insects, and fish. They are well known for their predation on young salmon and steelhead, but eat other types of fish as well. Their predation on juvenile salmon has made Northern Pikeminnow one of most intensely studied fishes in the region, and a bounty fishery to reduce their numbers began in 1990.