Innovative Kentucky commercial tourney helps reduce Asian carp
Asian carp are not only a problem in Kentucky rivers, they also are becoming a major concern in lakes, including Kentucky and Barkley..
Kentucky decided to take a shot at the problem recently with an innovative commercial fishing tournament in an effort to rid Barkley and Kentucky lakes of some of the nonnative fish which apparently are beginning to have a significant negative impact on sport fishing, including bass and crappie.
According to Ron Brooks, fisheries director for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, “Two species of Asian carp – bighead carp and silver carp - are plankton feeders and do not take bait off a hook like a sport fish.
Brooks noted that these carp over harvest plankton, which are the base of the aquatic food chain. Carp threaten the well-being of native fish and mussels by removing this source of nutrition. They also can be dangerous. They tend to jump, prompted by the vibration of a motor. At least one boater has been killed and numerous injured in the past several years.
The carp traditionally found in Kentucky waters can be caught on hook and line. And while they are ot considered top of the line tablefare, they can be prepared for the table and in fact are highly sought after by some people. These carp will bite worms, dough balls, and other baits.
In the tourney held mid-week, March 12-13, commercial angling teams netted more than 41 tons of the Asian carp for Kentucky and Barkley lakes. That was a good amount, but not as much as had been hoped, and not enough to make a significant dent in the population.
Barry Mann of nearby Benton, KY, claimed the top prize of $10,000 after hauling 28,670 pounds of fish from Kentucky and Barkley lakes during the two-day tournament.
"We were in them all day long," said Mann. "They were still jumping around the boat when we had to leave. What we went for was 20,000 pounds. We were pleased with our weight."
Twenty-one commercial fishing teams originally signed up for the tournament. The number dropped to 15 on opening day, then to 11 teams as some fishermen dropped far behind Mann's team and the team of Heath Frailley, the runner-up.
Frailley, a resident of Calhoun, Ky., brought back 22,000 pounds of carp. His team earned the $4,000 second-place prize. Owen Trainer of Sturgis, Ky., secured third place and a $3,000 prize with 7,790 pounds of fish. Ben Duncan, who only fished one day, won $2,000 for fourth place for 7,160 pounds of fish. Joe Bommarito took fifth place and a $1,000 prize with 4,340 pounds of fish.
Brooks said. "The 40 tons carp removed during this tournament is not insignificant, but this is only a drop in the proverbial bucket. The results were as clear as is the message: We must employ the commercial industry to remove Asian carp."
He hopes support and funding for more commercial tournaments can be found.
Besides being difficult to catch, the Asian carp currently don’t have much commercial value, although fisheries specialists in several states are seeking new uses and markets for the fish.
Many people think the carp are decent or maybe even good eating fish, but they are bony are don’t produce a lot of fillet meat. However, chefs are developing ways to better utilize the fish.
Gary Garth, who lives near Kentucky Lake, and writes for the Louisville Courier-Journal and other publications, wrote about ways to better utilize the fish for eating. He writes, “Asian carp,at least if you can't defeat it, you can eat it.” More information can be found at the Courier Journal website, and at Gary’s blog: garygarth.wordpress.com