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Entries in Asian carp (149)


Asian Carp Spawn Raises Threat for Barkley, Kentucky Lake Sport Fisheries

Can an Asian carp invasion destroy a world-class sport fishery? We're about to find out. And, no, it won't be in the Great Lakes.

Ground Zero will be Kentucky and Barkley Lakes, where anglers and commercial fishermen now are seeing millions and millions of young-of-the year silver carp.

Commercial fisherman Ben Duncan sent me these photos that he recently took at Boswell Bay, where he caught about 500 of them.

"I've seen similar schools in Cypress Bay, Eagle Creek, and Blood River," he said. "My conjecture is this year's mid-summer flood has made the 2015 spawn one for the record books."

And Paul Rister, a Kentucky fisheries biologist, confirmed that assessment. "Yes, we are aware of the tremendous spawn of Asian carp in the tailwaters and lakes this past spring," he said, adding that the state recently implemented a nickel a pound subsidy to encourage commercial harvest.

He also said that the numbers of carp likely will be far more than commercial fishermen can harvest, especially since nets can capture only larger specimens.

"So, what is the answer?" he continued. "There is not one yet. The good news is that it is still very unlikely that the carp have impacted sport fish in the lakes."

They may have displaced them, though, meaning anglers might find the fishing tougher as they are forced to fish new areas. Also, with so much forage, bass and crappie might be more difficult to catch on artificial baits--- at least immediately after the carp spawn. But within a few months, the fast-growing carp are too large for sport fish to eat.

Those impacts are short term. What's going to happen during the next year? Or five? Will the invasion overwhelm the sport fishery as carp occupy so much water that there's no room for other species?  That's happened in portions of major rivers, including the Missouri and Illinois.

Will commercial fishing contain carp numbers? Will scientists develop a chemical or biological control?

We will just have to wait and see.


Are Anglers, Hunters Endangered Species In Minnesota, As Well As California?

Slowly, but inevitably, anglers and hunters are becoming endangered species in California, the most Leftist state in the nation.  Based on an editorial that I read in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, I fear that Minnesota's anglers and hunters might not be far behind, despite the state being the "land of ten thousand lakes."

While many Democrats do fish and hunt, Leftist ideology is anti-fishing and anti-hunting both directly and indirectly. Directly it takes the form of many preservationist and animal rights groups, which want to restrict access to public lands and waters, as well as ban fishing and hunting outright. Indirectly it manifests as a nanny-state bureaucracy which over-regulates and over-taxes.

For example, California fishing licenses cost an average of 76 percent more than in other states, according to the California Sportfishing League. It's no surprise, then, that fishing license sales have dropped nearly 55 percent since 1980, even as the population has increased from 23 to 38 million.

Now, to Minnesota, which, sad to say, was turning Left before this editorial. Just last year, a Democrat state senator proposed and the legislature approved changing the name "Asian carp" to "invasive carp" so as not to offend the state's Asian population. If that's not a sign that the state has fallen into the PC rabbit hole, I don't know what is.

Here is the headline for the editorial, written, it seems, by people who learned about the outdoors solely through Disney movies: "From hunting to fishing, humans are doing damage as 'super predators.'"

And here are a couple of choice excerpts from the editorial, which was prompted by a study: 

"The upshot is that humans have evolved into 'super predators' unwilling or unable to maintain the natural equilibrium. All manner of 'normal' human activity — including global trade, fossil-fuel subsidies, food processing, and recreational hunting and fishing — contribute to failing ecosystems worldwide."

"Scientists said last week that global warming caused by human emissions has exacerbated the severity of the current California drought by 20 percent. Scientists in Minnesota have said repeatedly that agricultural practices and suburban-style development are helping to destroy the state’s cherished lakes. We’ve met the enemy, and the enemy is us."

Here's something that might be pertinent and that the Star-Tribune staff obviously has no clue about: Recreational fishing and commercial fishing are NOT the same thing. And recreational anglers do far more to sustain and enhance fisheries than they do to damage them. This includes catch-and-release, which has become almost universal, as well as millions of dollars contributed annually by anglers for fisheries management and conservation via license fees, excise taxes on equipment, and private contributions to fishery groups.

And that global warming thing? Yes, the climate is changing. It always has, and always will. But it is a disturbing indication of the lunacy of the newspaper's editorial staff, and possibly an indictment of readers in Minnesota that "global warming caused by human emissions" is presented as fact. It is not fact. No quantifiable evidence exists to support that statement.

The best part of finding that editorial was reading a lengthy comment from at least one Minnesota resident who has not fallen into the Leftist abyss. Here are some excerpts:

"License fees and contributions collected from hunters and hunting advocacy groups (Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Ruffed Grouse Society) account for most of the wildlife conservation dollars spent in this state." 

"The hunters I associate with are ethical. We won't take the shot unless we are certain it will result in the most humane kill possible. We'll never kill something that doesn't end up on the dinner table (coyotes being the only exception) and we never kill more than we need."

"I'm also a landowner. I manage my property to benefit all wildlife. I leave my corn and soybeans standing over winter to provide winter food for deer. I've planted countless trees, shrubs and grasses that benefit birds, mammals and pollinators."

"It's obvious that the authors of this study have a confirmation bias. It reads like it was commissioned by PETA." 

And it's obvious that the editorial staff of the Star-Tribune has that same bias.


Sport Fisheries in Kentucky and Barkley Lakes Under Assault From Asian Carp

Photo by Mark Marraccini, Kentucky Fish and WildlWhile we have been looking one way, Asian carp have been swimming in another.

For years, most media, scientific, and political attention was focused on the threat that silver and bighead carp pose to sport fisheries if they become established in the Great Lakes. Meanwhile, some of these invaders took at right turn at the Ohio River, and their numbers now are exploding in Kentucky and Barkley Lakes, even as they continue their infestation of other fisheries along the Cumberland and Tennessee River. What's occurring here is not hypothetical; it's real.

In the October issue of B.A.S.S. Times, I'll have a detailed report on what's happening to these fisheries and what might be done to save them. Following are some comments about the situation from anglers, as well as the fisheries chiefs in Kentucky and Tennessee


"When I was on Kentucky Lake in June, they (Asian carp) were everywhere, hitting the surface on the ledges. You could look down and see schools of them. Kentucky Lake is doomed in the very near future."


"Yep, they are thick in Kentucky Lake, but people don't see them jumping  like in other areas. But I see them all the time on my sonar and Steve had one jump into his boat and hit him in the back a few years ago."


"Yesterday i went to Smithland. The 4-inch Asian carp are 15 feet thick in places next to the dam in the still water and are so plentiful around the bank area that they are actually jumping up on each other and lying there out of the water."
"Fishing as we know it is winding down! Not one striper at any of the dams right now!"


"The two species of Asian carp that we are most concerned about right now because of their numbers are the bighead and silver carp," said Ron Brooks, Kentucky fisheries chief.

"Silver carp eat phytoplankton. Bighead eat primarily zooplankton, and, together, the two species threaten the very base of the aquatic food pyramid. By eating phytoplankton, silver carp reduce the amount of food available to many zooplankton species, which reduces the amount of zooplankton. Bighead forage on zooplankton, which also reduces the amount of zooplankton . . .

"Without sufficient densities of zooplankton available shortly after hatching, bass, crappie, bluegill, and even walleye would have poor survival into the juvenile phase of their lives. That is why we are most concerned about controlling the invasive carp numbers."


"We have had several inquiries from a few Chinese businessmen but nothing has developed so far.  We have also had one group from Tennessee that has been exploring the possibility of constructing a processing plant but they are still looking for a source of funding (10 to 12  million dollars)," said Bobby Wilson, Tennessee fisheries chief.

"However, with the three (plants) in Kentucky, there is a market for harvesting Asian carp in Tennessee waters.  There is a need to coordinate the harvest of Asian carp by commercial fishermen with the purchase of Asian carp by the fish processors. We are working to try to make that happen."


Tennessee, Cumberland River Fisheries Threatened by Asian Carp

Most anglers know that Asian carp are overwhelming populations of native fish in portions of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois Rivers. Likely they are aware that the invaders could have catastrophic consequences for the sport fishery if they migrate into the Great Lakes.

And almost certainly they have seen photos of silver carp leaping from the water, like the one above, as they are frightened by passing boats. This iconic shot was taken in 2007  by Nerissa McClelland of Illinois Department of Natural Resources from the chase boat as an electrofishing survey was conducted on the Illinois River, just upstream from Havana.

What most anglers do NOT know is that silver and bighead carp also threaten the Tennessee and Cumberland River systems , along with the world-class sport fisheries in their reservoirs. Most at risk right now are Kentucky and Barkley Lakes, but the invaders are moving steadily upriver from there.

In the October issue of B.A.S.S. Times, I'll have a detailed report on what's happening to these fisheries and what might be done to save them. Following is some insight regarding the problem from Ben Duncan , a commercial fisherman:

"I think it's too late to fully save the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. The quantity of carp in both those rivers is unimaginable, although sustained fishing does help. If we don't start soon, the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers will soon follow.

"Using the Cumberland River as an example, the numbers on the Barkley pool are large, while two pools up--- Old Hickory Lake --- catches, while becoming more frequent, are still at manageable levels.

" I have been on these lakes all my life, and spend more time on the water in a year than most people do in 10, and I can already see how native fish are changing their behaviors due to the invasion of carp. I think it's even influenced the crappie population and spawn on Kentucky Lake. Commercially, we catch way fewer fish in the bays than we did seven or eight years ago---  especially buffalo--- a fish that competes with Asians for food. Such large schools of carp decimate the food source so there's no reason to enter the bays. I have observed the same patterns in gizzard shad. 

"Currently, commercial harvest is the only defense. Kentucky and Barkley lakes are two of the most productive reservoirs in the country and it's concerning that Asian carp have made them so vulnerable. There are still several anglers unaware of the severity of the problem and most need to be educated on how tackling the problem is a collaborative effort among all stakeholders."


Less Habitat --- Not More --- Might Help Asian Carp Spread

Who would have believed that you could catch a largemouth bass, or much less a spotted bass, on a 9-inch swimbait? And how about that crazy looking Alabama rig? No way would that work.

But it’s not only in bass fishing that nature constantly reminds of how little we know.

Perhaps the coelacanth provides the best example. The primitive fish was thought to be extinct for about 65 million years when one was pulled from the depths in 1938 off the coast of South Africa. Since then, several more have been caught, including some 6,000 miles from the original location.

More recently, scientists say that they believe that a reservoir 400 miles below our feet contains enough water to fill our oceans three times. If true, this suggests that our surface water actually came from within, instead of being deposited by icy comets striking Earth billions of years ago. It also makes one wonder what the planet would look like if all that water were up here instead of down there. Those who are religious might say it would look much like it did shortly after Noah built his arc--- and they might add that explains where the water came from.

Exotic species, meanwhile, provide some of the greatest--- and costliest--- of nature’s mysteries. And, as speedier transport and improved technology facilitate their spread, they will continue to do so. That’s because the consequences of their introductions can’t truly be determined until it’s too late. Yes, we can theorize based on their size, needs, breeding habitats, etc., and the niches that they filled in their native habitats.

But as we’ve learned in recent years, zebra mussels, Asian carp, and other invaders are not subject to the same limiting factors--- predation, disease, climate, habitat--- as they were in their native ecosystems. In other words, what it was there is not what it is here.

Yes, we knew that zebra mussels would filter the water in the Great Lakes. But we had no idea that this process would contribute to a resurgence in blue-green toxic algae blooms or that the shellfish would link with another invader, the round goby, to cause fish-eating birds such as loons to die of botulism poisoning. Yes, we knew that Asian carp would compete with native species for food and habitat. But we had no idea that the silver would become a serious navigation hazard on some waters because of its leaping when frightened.

Which brings us to a recent revelation by a scientist at the University of Waterloo in Canada. Her proposal turns on its head the idea that Asian carp and other exotic species require an abundance of suitable habitat to thrive and spread. And if she’s correct, that means total lockdown of the Great Lakes from its manmade connection with the Illinois River is more important than ever.

“We recently found that only 10 Asian carp are needed to establish a population in the Great Lakes,” said Kim Cuddington, an ecology professor. “But then we asked, if there are so few individuals initially, how do they find a mate and create an ecological disaster?”

The answer is “landmarking.” And it works this way: Where is it easier for you to locate bass, in a pond with one laydown or a pond with a dozen? Yes, fishing might be better overall in the latter, but that’s not what we’re talking about.

We’re talking about a “hook up” --- forgive the pun--- in a non-angling sense. Whether a lonely male is an Asian carp or a butterfly, he instinctively knows to hightail it to the nearest preferred landmark habitat--- or "hangout"--- of his species to find a mate. This strategy allows species to reproduce even when population densities are low.

"With an endangered species, if the number of landmarked sites is increased, the individuals will have a lower chance of finding a mate," said Cuddington. "By contrast, decreasing the number of landmarked sites in an effort to keep invasive species from reproducing has the opposite effect, and ensures individuals have a near certain chance of finding a mate.”

Asian carp use river water quality and flow rate as landmarks to find mates more easily than originally thought, she explained.

"For species like Asian carp, precautionary measures have to be extraordinary to prevent establishment in the Great Lakes," said Cuddington. "When we see Asian carp use landmarking, officials need to worry."

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)