Asian carp still a problem in Tennessee rivers and lakes
Fisheries manager Mike Jolley says these fish eat micro-organisms that native species depend on for nourishment.
For decades Asian Carp have been a major nuisance for wildlife agencies across the south, including TWRA. Fisheries manager Mike Jolley says these fish eat micro-organisms that native species depend on for nourishment.
"The Big Head Carp and the Silver Carp are filter feeders, and they take out critical plankton in the reservoirs that young game fish need," says Jolley.
Even some adult native fish like Paddle fish need to feed on this plankton. But they're not just battling the Asian Carp for food, they're fighting for space.
"They [Asian Carp] can acquire great numbers and really get into some localized areas and become too numerous for the game fish to really thrive in there like they would have," adds Jolley.
Not only are they a threat to native fish, but they're also dangerous to people out on the lakes. Adult Asian Carp can weigh, on average, 60 to 100 pounds depending on the species, and they love to fly.
"They can come eight feet out of the water and really become flying torpedoes," says Jolley.
Asian Carp were brought to Arkansas in the early 1970s to get rid of excess algae and aquatic vegetation. By the early 1990s flood events had washed the fish into the Mississippi River and eventually into Kentucky and Tennessee.
Even though in the Volunteer State Asian Carp are only found in west and middle Tennessee waters, according to Jolley, TWRA is working with other agencies including TVA to keep them from spreading into east Tennessee.
Asian Carp are very sensitive to certain frequencies, so this fall an experimental sound barrier will be set up at Barkley Dam in Kentucky.
"If there's a sound barrier created there by an underwater loud sound at the frequency that would disturb those fish," explains Jolley. "it'll prevent them from wanting to go through those locks."
TWRA has also been working with commercial fishermen to "reel in" as many carp as possible. Jolley says recreational fishermen can also help. Juvenile Asian Carp look like shad which are often used for bait. Don't get them confused and take them somewhere else.
"My advisement would be not to even move any kind of bait like that if possible," says Jolley.
He also says it's illegal to move any live species of Asian Carp in the state of Tennessee. The TWRA is also tagging them with sonic transmitters to study them and encouraging "carp only" fishing tournaments.