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Entries in bighead carp (33)

Sunday
Apr082018

Giant Black Carp Caught in Mississippi River

This 120-pound black carp was caught in Bangladesh.A  recent catch by a commercial fisherman confirms that a third species of Asian carp capable of topping 100 pounds is infesting our waterways.

The 115-pound female black carp was taken near Cape Girardeau, Mo., on the Mississippi River. In 2011, an angler snagged a 106-pound bighead while fishing for paddlefish at Lake of the Ozarks, and a bass fisherman later foul-hooked an equally massive silver carp on Kentucky Lake. In their native waters, neither of the latter two species typically grow that large. The black, however, can attain weights of 200 pounds or more.

The Mississippi River black carp was donated to Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, and researchers hope that its study will help reveal information regarding the species potential range,  as well as reproductive and size potential.

“I wanted to get a look at it because it’s much bigger than anything we’ve seen so far. I’m curious to find out all we can," said Gregory Whitledge, an associate professor of zoology. "We knew they were capable of growing this big, but this is one that is large enough that it is still quite an event."

As with bighead and silver, the black carp was brought into this country by fish farmers and escaped into public waters. While the former are algae/plankton feeders, the black eats mollusks. It was introduced to control parasite-carrying snails in aquaculture ponds.

The first wild black carp were caught in the Mississippi during the early 2000s. But during the past five years, commercial fishermen have reported catching increasing numbers of them in nets along with the native fish they are seeking.

Sunday
Mar042018

Bad News For Anglers: Silver Carp Thriving on Kentucky, Barkley Lakes

A recent report on Asian carp in Kentucky and Barkley Lakes, both noted bass fisheries, confirms what sport and commercial fishermen started to notice there a few years ago: Silver carp are thriving.

"The silver carp populations in both reservoirs had the same pattern of strong year classes (2010, 2011, 2012, and 2015) and similar growth rates, which were faster than what has been reported for other populations around the globe," reported Phillip Bettoli and Josey Ridgway in a study funded by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Using a variety of methods, they collected 737 silver carp, but just 10 bighead carp (both referred to as "bigheaded carps").

"The maximum total lengths and ages were 1,385 millimeters (4 1/2 feet) and 22 years for bighead carp and 1,005 millimeters (3 1/4 feet) and 13 years for silver carp," they said in "Distribution, Age Structure, and Growth of Bigheaded Carps in the Lower Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers."

They  discovered that the growth rates for silver carp were higher than in North Dakota tributaries of the Missouri River, the middle Mississippi River, and the Illinois and Wabash Rivers. "In addition, the growth rate we observed was higher than silver carp in India's Gobindsager Reservoir and Russia's Amur River."

That observation is supported by a couple of startling statistics. In 2013, a 14-13 silver carp caught in Kentucky Lake qualified for the Tennessee state record. In 2015, Bill Shroeder foul-hooked and landed one there that weighed 106 pounds. Experts say maximum weight for silver carp typically is about 60 pounds.

And while traditional wisdom has been that Asian carp will reproduce only in rivers with long stretches of flowing waters, researchers discovered  evidence that suggests Kentucky and Barkley Lakes fit the needs of silver carp just fine. They collected young-of-the-year specimens from the upper reaches of both lakes, meaning that they either were spawned in the impoundments or swam more than 100 miles from the Ohio River.

"Although poorly understood, successful reproduction has been documented for introduced and native bigheaded carp populations in reservoir systems of Eurasia and Asia," the scientists said.

"Both Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley are run-of-the-river reservoirs having swift tailwaters, low retention rates, and expansive backwater embayments which could serve as nursery grounds."

That's in keeping with the "zillions" of young carp that guide Jim Perry said that he saw along the shorelines of both dams in 2015. "Plus, there are schools of them above those dams, all around the intakes, where the water goes down to the generators," he said.

Friday
Oct272017

Canadians Say Asian Carp Are In Lake Huron

Canadians are saying that they have conclusive evidence that Asian carp now are in Lake Huron. Considering that lake's central location among, that would mean the invaders have easy access  to Lakes Michigan, Erie, and Superior, although the latter might be too infertile and cold for them to thrive there.

Or, if this report is true, carp already could be in Michigan and moved into Huron from there.

Still, this also could be much ado about nothing in terms of the Asian carp that post the greatest threat to the Great Lakes. Those are bighead and silver.

In Canada, grass carp also are commonly referred to as Asian. While they certainly would not be a welcome addition to the lakes, they don't pose the threat to the sport fishery that the other two do. Grass carp feed on aquatic vegetation, which would diminish beneficial fish habitat. But they don't quickly dominate a water body as the other two do.

Bighead and silver, meanwhile, are filter feeders, gobbling up phytoplankton and zooplankton, the base of the food chain for the young of most sport fish, as well important food for shad and other native filter feeders. Also they are prolific, growing large quickly and crowding out other species with their numbers and mass.

Here's one of the Canadian articles about the discovery:

A delegate to last week’s Coastal Municipal Forum says there is now conclusive evidence that Asian Carp are now in Lake Huron.

Dave Myett, a councillor with Saugeen Shores, says the Ministry of Natural Resources has told them they’re able to test the water and determine what kind of fish has passed through by the presence of their DNA. And they say they have found the presence of Asian Carp DNA.

Myett says at this point they can’t tell how many there were or their size. He points out they’re a very elusive species so anyone that either finds a dead one or catches one should notify the ministry.

Myett also points out that given their size and they’ll ability to procreate once they reach a body of water they eventually out eat and dominate other species.

The forum was hosted by the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation

“We have been led to believe by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry that there is conclusive evidence that the DNA has been detected of the Asian Carp in Lake Huron,” says Myett. “They can test the water at the source points and they can tell what kind of fish has passed through there by telling if the DNA is present in the water.”

“They seem to be an elusive species,” says Myett. “They’re rarely seen on the shoreline or caught. They’re very hard to catch. If someone finally finds a dead one or catches one in a net or fishing, then I’m sure the Ministry would very much like to hear about it.”

Tuesday
Jun062017

Mild Winter Contributed to Asian Carp Die-Off

A milder than normal winter likely was responsible for the large die-off of Asian silver carp that occurred during April in Kentucky and Barkley Lakes, as well as on the nearby Ohio River.

"It appears that young Asian carp are succumbing to stressors brought on by insufficient fat storage to get the fish through the winter and spring months," reported Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources Department (KFWR), crediting scientists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the diagnosis.

"Young, but large carp are likely most vulnerable to starvation after a warm winter because the fishes' metabolism was elevated above that of a normal, colder winter."

In other words, the fish couldn't get enough to eat, which weakened them, and made them more vulnerable to secondary stressors, such as bacterial infections that their immune systems normally would fight off.

An Asian carp die-off also occurred in 2014. But Kentucky biologist Jessica Morris said that was in just one place, below Lake Barkley, with gas bubble disease as the diagnosed cause.

"As long as only silver carp are affected (this time), we're going to say that it's a good thing, because that's helping us control the population," she added.

When anglers and boaters began reporting dead and dying fish in early April, biologists from both KFWR and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) were quick to investigate.

“The widespread die-off does not seem to be impacting other fish species, which is good news for game fish and anglers” TWRA fisheries chief Frank Fiss said early in the investigation.  “We appreciate all the reports we have received, and we want everyone to know we are aware of the die-off and are monitoring it.

“While we are trying to learn how to slow or stop their expansion, the recent die-off of thousands of fish for whatever reason has occurred naturally,” he added.

One angler on Kentucky Lake reported dead carp along the banks, as well as distressed fish "moving fast and making a wake, and they were anywhere and everywhere. Many came by the boat and a couple even banged off the trolling motor."

He also saw fish "beach themselves on the bank and that's when we noted why there were so many on the bank."

Another fisherman said the carp  were "swimming lethargically in very shallow water. Then the craziest thing happened. We saw the carp getting really close to the bank and throwing themselves onto the bank. We had never seen them do that before."

Fiss added that most fatalities seem to have been two-year-old fish, "but there are a lot of dead fish, and we are probably only seeing a tiny percentage of what actually inhabits the reservoir."

Wednesday
May172017

A Carp Is Not Just a Carp; Here's the Difference

Many people, including anglers, don't understand that we have several kinds of carp now swimming in our waters, all of them fish from other countries. And all of them problematic in one way or another.

The fish in the top photo is a common carp. It was introduced more than a century ago, with the help of the federal government. It's now in lakes and rivers all over this country, and has degraded water quality in many of them, mostly because it roots on the bottom and stirs up sediment.  State agencies sometimes use a rotenone treatment to wipe out a lake's fishery, primarily because of overpopulation by common carp. When someone says "carp," this is the fish that most people think of.

Grass carp (that's me with an illegally stocked grass carp) were first introduced during the 1960s, to help control aquatic vegetation, mostly exotic milfoil and hydrilla. The problem is that they eat ALL plants, including beneficial native vegetation. Some have escaped and are reproducing in our rivers. More recently, there's concern that they might establish a breeding population in the Great Lakes. They're far too easy to purchase and stock illegally by people who have no idea of the problems that they cause.

Finally, Asian carp. That description applies to both silver (top) and bighead carp. The silver carp is the one that you see so many photos of as it flies through the air. Both are growing larger here than in their native habitat, with bigheads now exceeding 100 pounds. These are the most recent introductions, brought in by fish farmers in the South. They escaped and now are outcompeting native fish for food and habitat in many of our major rivers, most notably, the Missouri, Mississippi, Illinois, and Ohio. In some places, they account for more than 95 percent of the biomass. There's concern that they, too, will establish breeding populations in the Great Lakes.