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Asian invasion: TWRA targets growing carp problem, asks for help

Asian invasion: TWRA targets growing carp problem, asks for help

Posted: Friday, October 7, 2011 3:03 pm
By: By Brent Callicott

Last week, I attended a meeting that was held in Paris and hosted by the TWRA on three different subjects, one of which was the Asian carp.
The other two were the depletion of the Bob White Quail in Tennessee and across the country and the other was information on programs for the youth in the state of Tennessee offered by the TWRA.
As for the Asian carp concerns, this is a problem we have in Reelfoot Lake, the Hickman Harbor, the Mississippi River, Kentucky Lake (Tennessee River) and Barkley Lakes (Cumberland River), the Ohio River as well as any other bodies of waters which touch the Mississippi River in some form.
This meeting was put together by two of my good friends who live in the Henry County/Kentucky Lake area — Jim Perry and Steve McCadams. Both of these gentlemen are professional fishing guides on Kentucky Lake and have been for many years. They, as well as many others, are very concerned about what this fast invasion of the Asian carp will do to our lakes, rivers and sport fishing.
The best I could tell, there were just over 100 of the concerned general public who showed up along with several members of the local and state level TWRA staff.
It was also shared with us the TWRA has close to 200 officers statewide. That is nice to know.
The main part of the so-called TWRA RoadShow was about the Asian carp and the man who spoke on this subject was Bobby Wilson of the TWRA whose title is fisheries chief.
There are four types of Asian Carp with three of them being what we have in our waters locally. The silver carp, bighead carp, black carp and grass carp. Black carp are not in our waters as the TWRA knows of none at this time.
What to watch for is the bighead and silver carp. The silver carp are the jumpers.
Bighead (Hypophthalmichtys nobilis) and the silver (H. molitrix) carp are invasive fish spreading to lakes and rivers, particularly the Mississippi River and Great Lakes regions. They tend to feed on plankton and compete for food with native mussels, larval fishes and some adult fishes. They will quickly dominate fisheries, impacting recreation and commercial fishing. Silver carp and hybrids can leap up to 10 feet out of the water when disturbed by watercraft, injuring people working or recreating on the waters.
Both carp were brought to North America from Asia in the early 1970s. By the early 1980s, they escaped into the Mississippi River, moving northward and into many tributaries. Wild bait harvest and release of live bait can contribute to the spread of these fish to new waters, since their juveniles look similar to native baitfish. Early detection of isolated populations may help slow or restrict the spread of these carp.
Your help in reporting new sightings and preventing the spread of these and other non-native aquatic species is vital for protecting our valued waters.
I have been asked how these fish ended up in Reelfoot Lake, and the main two reasons are when in the recent years, as early as this past spring, these carp migrate up the Spillway Ditch and the Bayou de Chein creek, both which connect to the Mississippi River.
The TWRA offered a few tips on what we can do to help.
• Do not harvest bait from waters infested with the bighead or silver carp.
• Dispose of unwanted live bait in the trash.
• Never release fish from one body of water into another.
• Report any new sightings to the TWRA.
It is also a federal law that you cannot transport any Asian carp across state lines if these fish are alive; you can if they are dead.
How to identify the bighead or silver carp or general characteristics. Low set eyes, scale-less head or body scales are very small. Large upturned mouth without barbs, unlike common carp. Adults may be more than 60 pounds and 4 feet long. Hybrids between these fish may exhibit characteristics of both species. Some bighead carp can reach as much as 100 pounds.
I also learned that Tennessee is the most bio-diverse state in the United States with 315 different types of species of fish and 120 species of mussels.
One thing for sure, we can’t stop the migration of these Asian carp at this time and, as long as we have log and dam systems, they will continue to migrate through our systems.
From what the TWRA said, commercial fishing may be the best way to control the mass growth of these fish until something else is done. Right now, the Chinese will take every pound of these type fish that can be caught in the U.S. waters and right now the going price for these fish is 10 cents to 15 cents per pound. For sure the Commercial Fishing will reduce the numbers, but how much?
The closest place you as a commercial fisherman can sell these fish is in Ledbetter, Ky. Right now, there are two processing plants in the state of Illinois with others plan to be possibly built in the future up and down the Mississippi River.
Also, contact your local, state and national governments letting them know we need monies set aside in helping to solve this problem.
Jim Perry reported he spoke with one of the local commercial fishermen who works the Kentucky Lake waters and he is averaging 3,000 to 10,000 pounds of these fish per day in his nets on or near the Tennessee River.
Don’t forget about the 22nd Annual Reelfoot Lake Waterfowl Festival will be held at the Eagle Nest Resort in downtown Samburg Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Final Flight Outfitters will be hosting a extravaganza of duck and goose calling competitions the weekend of Oct. 15-16 at their store location in the Midway Community near Union City. These major calling contest offer five ( 5 ) chances to qualify for the World Duck Calling Championship in Stuttgart, Ark.
There will also be junior competitions in duck and goose as well as the TN State Goose Calling Competition for adults. All eight contests will be held on site at Final Flight Outfitters, 5933 Highway 431, Union City, TN and are certain to attract many serious competitors with two days of high excitement in competition duck and goose calling.
BassMaster Elite Series Bass Pro Ben Parker has created a fishing electronics DVD call “Bass Under Glass” and can be purchased either at Union City Marine or at Final Flight Outfitters.
From spring time to early fall, Ben Parker fishes on the Bassmaster Elite Series Tour. He is known widely as an electronics guru.
In between his tournament schedule Ben offers a personal one on one electronics training lesson where he jumps in your boat and takes a close inspection of your electronics. In most cases, people want to see what large schools of largemouth bass look like on today’s side imaging and structure scans so we spend a few hours on the water. However, Ben will focus a lesson on what you are struggling to learn.
You can see all of this on his newly-released DVD.
Remember to contact me or the folks at the Messenger if you would like to share a story, photo or outdoors activity announcement. I can be reached at 731-446-3678 or
Til next week’s column,
Catch ya on the water folks

Published in The Messenger 10.07.11

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