Strange-looking fish puzzles anglers AUGUSTA — On Jan. 25, anglers were taking advantage of a fish salvage order as Augusta City Lake was being drained for renovation. During a fish salvage, anglers can take sportfish with equipment not ordinarily allowed, such as seines, snagging rigs, bow and arrow, and gigs. Most of the prizes hauled in were large flathead catfish, but one angler snagged a fish estimated to weigh about 55 pounds that no one could identify. Officials with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) became involved with the catch when a picture of the fish appeared on local television. It was immediately identified as an aquatic nuisance species (ANS), an Asian carp.
“This report supports our long-standing recommendation that fish should not be moved between waters,” said Jason Goeckler, KDWPT aquatic nuisance specialist. “Here is a case of a lake with Asian carp that we didn't even know about.”
Asian carp were imported to the U.S. in the 1970s for aquaculture purposes but escaped into Midwestern rivers and streams. Previously, they had been found only in the Kansas, Missouri, Big Blue, and Wakarusa rivers and Browning Oxbow Lake in northeastern Kansas. Officials believe that the fish was released into Augusta City Lake or waters above the lake.
Two species of Asian carp have been discovered in Kansas — bighead and silver carp. Both species have scaleless heads, and silver carp may grow to more than 60 pounds and as long as 4 feet. This fish, however, was a bighead carp, which may grow to more than 100 pounds. Both species have low-set eyes and a large upturned mouth without barbels (“whiskers”).
Asian carp directly compete with other fish for food resources, grow quickly, and feed voraciously. They can consume 40 percent of their body weight each day. Silver carp pose physical danger to boaters because of their leaping ability. Anyone boating in silver carp-infested waters should be aware that these large fish may jump into their boat.
Shortly after news reports of the Augusta City Lake Asian carp, KDWPT began receiving calls and emails.
“We want to thank the public for sending in reports,” Goeckler said. “Unfortunately we did not hear about this discovery prior to press-time. But the big news is that we received countless emails, calls, and online reports from the public. They shared our concern about the discovery, and their reports help us monitor these species.”
Anyone who catches an Asian carp should not release the fish back into any body of water. Anglers who catch Asian carp somewhere other than the Kansas, Missouri, Big Blue, and Wakarusa rivers should freeze the fish in a sealed plastic bag, note the date and location, and call the KDWPT Emporia Research Office at 620-342-0658 or email@example.com.