The Edmond Sun

February 22, 2013

Asian carp – can we turn trash into treasure?

Keith Kappes
Special to The Sun

CNHI News Service — As a young boy, I was convinced that carp had to be the biggest creature living in any kind of water.

Spring floods would overflow the local creek and trap the carp in our little town’s baseball park. As the water receded, the oxygen level would drop and the fish became sluggish.

We would wade in and bag them with pitchforks and pretend they were sharks and we were deep sea fishing.

 If you think about it, a 30-pound fish looks like a shark to a kid. Some of them must have been a yard long.

Adults told us that carp were trash fish and that, as bottom feeders, they did not have a good taste.

One of our buddies would take a load home in his wagon because his mother knew how to clean and cook them for her family. He said they tasted like catfish.

A local farmer fed the big fish to his hogs. It was obvious that carp was not a prized catch for any self-respecting fisherman.

I have to admit that I once ate a delicious koi dish at a Japanese restaurant, unaware at the time that it actually is a smaller carp species found mainly in Asia.

Those memories came back to me this week as I read about plans for a giant fishing tournament to rid two of Kentucky’s largest fishing lakes of Asian carp.

Asian carp includes four types of the so-called “rough” fish – grass, silver, bighead and black.

They now are classified as an invasive species because they eat so much and grow so large, threatening game and commercial fish across the Mississippi River basin.

In the spirit of basketball’s March Madness, some clever bureaucrat at the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission came up with a “Carp Madness Tournament” offering $20,000 in prize money for the most poundage caught.

The fish folks at the state capital believe it will be the most effective way to control Asian carp.

Some carp like to jump into boats so I hope those professional anglers are ready to deal with a 40-pound guest which can leap 10 feet out of the water.

The carp tournament brought to mind the recent effort in Florida to rid the Everglades of Burmese pythons, now estimated in the tens of thousands.

 Prize money in the “python challenge” got lots of publicity but resulted in the capture and death of only 68 of the giant snakes.

Whether swimming or slithering, it appears Mother Nature can be hard to manage.



Keith Kappes is a columnist for The Morehead (Ky.) News. Contact him at kkappes@cnhi.com.