Invasive Asian carp found in Lake Pepin - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Invasive Asian carp found in Lake Pepin

LAKE CITY, Minn. (KTTC)- Just last week, a large big head carp was taken out of Lake Pepin, leaving some concerned about the current state of our waterways.

"Promptly, we got a call Friday that they had one cribbed up," says Tim Schlagenhaft, an Asian carp expert with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. "We got the fish Saturday morning and took measurements from it and took some photographs, and now we got that fish up in St. Paul."

A 47-pount bighead carp, living among the fish typically found in Lake Pepin. It is not the first of its kind taken out of the lake, and they are unmistakable.

"They're distinctively different from any native species," explains Schlagenhaft. "Their eyes are set down on the bottom of the head so they're very easy to tell, especially as adults, from the other fish. So they'll know right away when they've got one."

The appearance of this carp re-ignites the invasive species discussion, because of the damage they can do to the natural habitat by consuming the other fishes general food source, plankton. But is the issue as big as we make it out to be?

"So, they're going to be able to get up here. But seeing them in very small numbers, to see an occasional adult, that's not going to have an impact on a system," says Schlagenhaft. "It's not until they get off a natural reproduction, get off a spawn, and then we see much larger numbers of them, then they would have more of an impact."

The numbers are steady, but they are still being monitored.

"What we're observing now really hasn't changed over the last 15 years or so. We're still seeing an occasional large individual caught. We haven't seen multiple catches where we're seeing many of the same species."

There may not be a problem now, but experts like Tim know that could change very quickly.

If you are fishing and think you may have caught an Asian carp, you are to contact your local DNR office for identification, and they will take the fish from there.

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