Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Carp catch and release tournaments; you can have 'em. We don't want them

Anglers of southeast Wisconsin and throughout the state prefer their native fish. Yet, the common carp, a relative of bighead silver carp, goldfish and koi, is attempting to jump from bow and arrow rough fish category to catch and release fish status in our state.

Unfortunately, making this invasive species one worthy of being released is like having a contest to see who can catch the most mosquitoes and then having all successful contestants release their unwanted blood suckers and disease transmitters back into our world.

Seeing carp in a contest where they are returned to their non-native waters is sickening. It shows that if we let it continue, we have sunk to a new level in not caring about our Wisconsin waters.

Carp replace our native gamefish, not on a one-to-one basis but in highly inflated numbers. Where 3- to 5- walleyes is a good number per acre for walleyes, common carp do fine when there are 75 per acre.

Common carp were brought to America by people, pre-dating our modern DNR, who wanted to get rid of native aquatic plants in their waters. The fish escaped rearing ponds into our native waters, and unwittingly, the blue heron spread the nuisance, big-scaled fish throughout our state. The adhesive eggs of the common carp stick to the skinny legs of the bird. The birds fly from waterway to waterway and transplant eggs.

To fish, “aquatic plants,” are wonderful. Pike cruise through and along the weeds in search of food. Bass cruise the outer and inner weed edges and hide amongst weeds to ambush day dreaming, smaller, prey fish and crayfish, the latter is the favorite dinner treat for smallmouth bass. Walleyes and pickerel use weeds, not only for oxygen but as an area to hunt food.

Hungry panfish use weeds for aquatic insects and for fish that eat these creatures. Find a nice, leafy aquatic plant, and it often holds bass or a musky. Let the carp take over, and these oxygen-producing weeds are gone and so are the bass, muskies, pike, etc., except for those fish that dine on carp, and these include flathead catfish and dogfish.

Is this the sad future of Wisconsin’s waters? Are they to be mostly carp, flathead catfish, dogfish, and bullheads?

Hopefully, fishing clubs, individual anglers, conservation minded organizations, lake associations, resort owners, tourism organizations, water skiers who don’t want to bounce off of big carp at full speed, boaters who don’t want to lose their lower ends to these swimming suitcases, conservation minded tournament promoters, those who contribute to conservation via their Wisconsin State Income Tax forms, and more will band together and stop the practice of removing carp and then restocking these nuisances via releasing the non-native fish back into our waters where they can reproduce to the level of native species elimination.

On May 8, 2010, there was a catch and release CARP (catch and restock?) Tournament/Fisheree in the Oconto River Harbor at Oconto. Fishing started at 8 a.m. & ended at 6 p.m. Entry fee - $25.00. This is the qualifier for the Wisconsin State Championship. (Who would tell anyone that they won?) To voice an opinion direct to the contact, call Lee Young at (920) 834-4494.

L.A. Van Veghel

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