Fishermen are usually overjoyed to pull a big one into the boat, but five fish caught just south of Stillwater in the past week have both anglers and wildlife officials concerned.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says fishermen and DNR personnel pulled five bighead carp from the St. Croix River not far from Xcel Energy's King Power Plant.
This is the furthest upstream invasive carp have been detected in the St. Croix, some seven miles north of the previous point.
Before last week just four bighead carp have been taken in the St. Croix River since 1996.
"The DNR thanks the anglers who have reported the capture of bighead carp and have sent photos so they could be immediately verified," said Nick Frohnauer, DNR invasive fish coordinator. "Knowing these details allowed our invasive carp crew to do follow up sampling in a timely manner."
In the wake of the five bighead carp being caught, DNR staff have set more gill nets and are trying to find additional invasive fish by electrofishing. They are also working with a commercial fishing operator to seine a large bay of the river.
Silver and bighead carp are two of four species of invasive carp that threaten the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers and other native ecosystems. They can grow to 60 pounds, and are ravenous in consuming large amounts of plankton that sustain native fish.
Bighead and silver carp are established in the Mississippi River and its tributaries from southern Iowa northward. While they have been found as far north as Hastings, there is no evidence bighead or silver carp are reproducing in the Minnesota waters of the Mississippi or St. Croix rivers.
The DNR is taking a multi-pronged approach based on the recently revised Minnesota Invasive Carp Action Plan. Those actions include:
- Monitoring for invasive carp by using targeted surveying and contracted commercial fishing.
- Partnering with the University of Minnesota's Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, federal agencies, and other universities researching ways to prevent the spread and manage populations of invasive carp.
- Actively participating in the Upper Mississippi River workgroup in implementing actions to combat invasive carp.
The DNR reminds anyone who catches a bighead, silver, black, or grass carp to immediately contact the DNR at 888-646-6367 or [email protected]. Do not release the fish. Take a photo, and store the fish until it can be delivered to the DNR.