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Illinois hunting and fishing

Bighead carp found in Lake Calumet

June 23, 2010 at 03:40 PM

CHICAGO (AP) - An Asian carp was found for the first time beyond electric barriers meant to keep the voracious invasive species out of the Great Lakes, state and federal officials said Wednesday, prompting renewed calls for swift action to block their advance.

Commercial fishermen landed the 3-foot-long, 20-pound bighead carp in Lake Calumet on Chicago’s South Side, about six miles from Lake Michigan, according to the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee.

Officials said they need more information to determine the significance of the find.

“The threat to the Great Lakes depends on how many have access to the lakes, which depends on how many are in the Chicago waterway right now,” said John Rogner, assistant director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

But environmental groups said the discovery leaves no doubt that other Asian carp have breached barriers designed to prevent them from migrating from the Mississippi Riv er system to the Great Lakes and proves the government needs to act faster.

“If the capture of this live fish doesn’t confirm the urgency of this problem, nothing will,” said Andy Buchsbaum, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office.

Scientists and fishermen fear that if the carp become established in the lakes, they could starve out popular sport species and ruin the region’s $7 billion fishing industry. Asian Carp can grow to 4 feet and 100 pounds and eat up to 40 percent of their body weight daily.

Rogner, from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, estimated that the male carp was about 3 to 4 years old. It was caught live but has since been killed and will be sent to the University of Illinois to determine if it was artificially raised or naturally bred.

The fish was sexually mature, but Lake Calumet’s conditions aren’t conducive to reproduction because the water is too still, Rogner said. Even so, the lake is the i deal living environment for the fish because it’s quiet and near a river system, he added.

“It fits the model to a T,” he said. “They may be concentrated in that area.”

Officials said they’ll use electrofishing and netting to remove any Asian carp from the lake.

They have been migrating up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers toward the Great Lakes for decades.

There are no natural connections between the lakes and the Mississippi basin. More than a century ago, engineers linked them with a network of canals and existing rivers to reverse the flow of the Chicago River and keep waste from flowing into Lake Michigan, which Chicago uses for drinking water.

Two electric barriers, which emit pulses to scare the carp away or give a jolt if they proceed, are a last line of defense. The Army corps plans to complete another one this year.

“Is it disturbing? Extraordinarily. Is it surprising? No,” Joel Brammeier, president of the Alliance for the Gre at Lakes, said of the carp’s discovery beyond the barriers.

He said the capture highlights the need to permanently sever the link between the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes. The Army Corps is studying alternatives, but says the analysis will take years.

“Invaders will stop at nothing short of bricks and mortar, and time is running short to get that protection in place,” Brammeier said.

In Michigan, officials renewed their demand to shut down two shipping locks on the Chicago waterways that could provide a path to Lake Michigan. The U.S. Supreme Court has twice rejected the state’s request to order the locks closed, but state Attorney General Mike Cox said he was considering more legal action.

“Responsibility for this potential economic and ecological disaster rests solely with President Obama,” Cox said. “He must take action immediately by ordering the locks closed and producing an emergency plan to stop Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan.”

A Chicago-based industry coalition called Unlock Our Jobs said the discovery of a single carp did not justify closing the locks. Doing so would damage the region’s economy and kill jobs without guaranteeing that carp would be unable to reach the lakes, spokesman Mark Biel said.

“A few isolated incidents of Asian carp in this small section of the Illinois Waterway does not mean existing barriers have failed,” said Biel, also executive director of the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois. “Additional regulatory controls and river barriers should be explored before permanent lock closure is even considered.”

Here’s more information from a Department of Natural Resources press release about the Asian carp discovery.

The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (RCC) announced today that one bighead Asian carp has been found in Lake Calumet along the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS). This is the first physical specimen that has been found in the CAWS above the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Electric Barrier System.

RCC agencies will enact immediate measures to remove any additional Asian carp found during sampling efforts, including but not limited to electrofishing and netting.

“We set out on a fact finding mission and we have found what we were looking for,” said John Rogner, Assistant Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). “This is important evidence and the more information we have about where Asian carp are, the better chance we have of keeping them out of the Great Lakes.” 

The Bighead carp was found in Lake Calumet which sits between T. J. O’Brien Lock and Dam and Lake Michigan.  The find was made in the northwest corner of the lake near Harborside Golf Course, approximately six miles downstream of Lake Michigan by a commercial fisherman contracted by the Illinois DNR during routine sampling efforts in the area.  The fish was measured to be 34.6 inches long and weighed 19.6 pounds. 

This capture represents the first Asian carp discovered above the electric barrier system and just the second in the Chicago Area Waterway System. 

The first Asian carp was found on December 3 in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) below the electric barrier system and just above the Lockport Lock and Dam.

Intensive sampling operations on the CAWS by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service first began on
February 17 in an attempt to locate either Silver or Bighead Asian carp above the Electric Fish Barrier System.

Previous sampling actions throughout the last four months above the barrier did not produce any Silver or Bighead carp. 

Additional sampling actions on Lake Calumet above T.J O’Brien Lock and Dam will include IDNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fishery biologists supported by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and commercial fishermen. Commercial fishing nets and electrofishing gear will continue to be used in Lake Calumet and additional resources will be deployed to begin sampling up the Calumet River leading to Lake Michigan.  Electrofishing and sampling efforts in Lake Calumet and the Calumet River will continue throughout the next several weeks.

During these activities every effort will be made to minimize the impact to waterway users and provide as much advanced notice of any possible waterway restrictions.

“This issue is an extremely high priority for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and we will continue to work directly with our partners and stakeholders to implement the Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework using all available tools and techniques,” said Mike Weimer,  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Assistant Regional Director of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Program.  “We remain firmly committed to achieving our collective goal of preventing Asian carp from becoming established in Great Lakes waters.”

The sampling effort is an important and continued effort in the Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework, which includes both short and long term actions to stop the migration of Asian carp into the Great Lakes.

Sampling and monitoring will also continue at five fixed sampling stations throughout the Chicago Area Waterway System as detailed in the RCC’s Sampling and Monitoring plan to search for Asian carp.  Commercial fishing operations will also continue to remove Silver or Bighead carp in downstate waters where the fish are known to be present. 

“The Army Corps of Engineers will continue to operate the locks and dams in the Chicago Area Waterway System for Congressionally authorized purposes of navigation, water diversion, and flood control.  We will continue to support fish suppression activities by modifying existing structures such as locks as requested by other agencies to support this common goal,” said Colonel Vincent Quarles, Command of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District. “At this time there is no intention to close the locks.”

Short and long term control efforts as part of the Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework include:

• Operations to reduce propagule pressure on barriers
• Increased fish collection effort and population suppression
• Evaluation of modified and structures operations in support of fish suppression activities
• Emergency measures to prevent bypass of fish between (1) Des Plaines River and CSSC and (2) I&M Canal and CSSC during flood events
• Increased biological control efforts
• Barrier operations

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

if theres a 20lber there, that means there are others, chicago get ready for the asian carp invasion that us in the southern part of the state have been dealing with for 7 plus years!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/23 at 04:28 PM

drats!  Electropoison them sunzabitches!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/23 at 04:33 PM

the best way to get rid of them , or thin the numbers, would be around this time of year and spawning season when they are stacked at the dams, to net them and use what ever tactic necessary to eliminate as many as possible while they are stacked up in such high concentrations. the carp reproduce so fast that once in a river or lake, they are hard to stop.  you could have asked your average joe fisherman this and saved a TON of money from forming the worthless Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (RCC), wich has no idea how to prevent or stop this problem from happening. i would love to attend one of these meetings and give them some real life asian carp experience rather than people that sit behind a desk all day and then waste MILLIONS of tax payers dollars.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/23 at 04:50 PM

100#‘r on light tackle..sounds like fun to me…just wear helmets…and don’t let ‘em slime ya.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/23 at 05:16 PM

I told Jeff Lampe 6 months ago about people catching them down there last year.

Posted by HawgNSonsTV on 06/23 at 05:45 PM

What do you use for bait for these suckers? Or do you have to snag them?

Posted by illin on 06/23 at 06:53 PM

Illin ... they are Carp not suckers. For bait? I suggest corn, wheatie balls or The Hewkinator with a drop of Hewk juice!

Posted by HawgNSonsTV on 06/23 at 07:25 PM

A couple years back during one of the coldest days of the year we went fishing below the dam at Carlyle.  We didn’t have much luck catching anything else, but saw quite a few of the Bigheads laying on the bank in the rocks.  We didn’t know what they were, but it seemed as if someone had been snagging them.  I thought what the heck and tied on a treble above a sinker.  For the next two hours we took turns snagging them and had a blast.  We have always been puzzled on whether or not this was OK to do, but after reading so much about the envasiveness of them I would imagine that the state would welcome this method. I’ve checked the Illinois fishing regs and cannot seem to find anything indicating if its legal or not.  Does anyone have any insight on it???

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/23 at 07:32 PM

Be careful where you snag. The only place in Illinois where snagging is legal year-round that I know of is Peoria Lock and Dam. That was done on an experimental basis.

I’m pretty sure snagging is not allowed below dams like Carlyle. So I wouldn’t say too much about your trip.

Posted by Jeff Lampe on 06/23 at 07:44 PM

Hawg-I know they are carp not suckers. I meant that figuratively:) I was not sure if normal carp baits would work or not. I have always had luck with corn for the common carp. I will try that.

Posted by illin on 06/23 at 07:47 PM

Jeff-The rules are kind of convoluted. I think snaggin is allowed bellow dams on the Illinois and Mississippi when in season. The kaskaskia is not in the regs though so I would not do it at Carlyle. You may want to contact the local DNR there. I bet Josh would know for sure about there.

Snagging for fish is permitted from September
15 through December 15 and from March 15
through May 15 within a 300 yard downstream
limit below all locks and dams of the
Illinois River and Mississippi River between
Illinois and Missouri. Snagging is permitted
from January 1 through April 15 within a 500
yard downstream limit below locks and dams
on the Mississippi River between Illinois and
Iowa (except the tailwaters of Lock and Dam
12 and 13 are closed to all fishing from
December 1 through March 15), and yearround
within a 100-yard limit upstream or
downstream of the dam at Horseshoe Lake in
Alexander County. In these areas the following
species may be taken: carp, buffalo,
freshwater drum, paddlefish (2 per day),
bowfin, gizzardshad, carpsucker, longnose
and shortnose gar and sucker (except longnose
sucker). No sorting of snagged salmon
or paddlefish is permitted. Every salmon 10
inches in total length or longer and paddlefish
snagged must be taken into immediate possession
and included in the daily catch limit.
Once the daily limit of salmon or paddlefish
has been reached snagging must cease.

Posted by illin on 06/23 at 07:54 PM

Thanks Jeff and illin! I’ve found the same guidance to be very confusing and leaving us all to wonder. I just checked the ILDNR Carlyle Lake SP site and no mention there too.  When in doubt I guess the best decision would have been not to do it….

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/23 at 08:05 PM

I’ve seen them hooked in the mouth on Cicadas (blade baits) by white bass fishermen.

Posted by Jeff Lampe on 06/23 at 10:26 PM

They may have been hooked in the mouth but then again they swim with their mouths open…
They (both Bigheads and Silvers) are filter feeders and don’t “bite” on baits.
Also snagging below Carlyle dam is illegal. As is bowfishing them from the bank. Bowfishing from a boat however is legal year round now.
The last time we were there, we watched so many anglers blatantly snagging it was ridiculous. We even shot one bighead that had a trebble hook with two twister tails stuck on the hooks. I guess that was supposed to make it a “Lure”.
We also watched one guy snag a paddlefish and put it on his stringer. :(

Posted by carpsniper on 06/23 at 11:04 PM

“Illin ... they are Carp not suckers. For bait? I suggest corn, wheatie balls or The Hewkinator with a drop of Hewk juice!

Posted by HawgNSonsTV on 06/23 at 07:25 PM”

I hear that a clue is on sale at the Wal-Mart Hawg.
Maybe you could buy one there.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/23 at 11:09 PM

there are giant signs on both the east and west side of carlyle dam that state “no snagging” right by the concrete steps heading down to the river, as the kaskaskia is not included in the IDNR regulations for snagging. no snagging is allowed year round within 500 yards from the dam from what i understand from the information i received from the CPO’s. i agree with adjourney as to why the dnr does not welcome this method to rid the rivers of the asian carp.a CPO at carlyle however suggested a legal way around this law at carlyle and it could also be used at other rivers. i will copy and paste this from my blog of my last carlyle posting in which a reader asked a simular question on how i can constantly catch asian carp year round…......................... ” we throw spoons, 1/4oz to 1/2oz cheapos from walmart so its not legally considered “snagging” as you cannot snag at carlyle dam for the asian carp or anyother fish. . However these spoons work just as good as a typical snagging outfit that i would use for spoonbill during the open season on the mississippi ( 2 big trebles and a 1-2oz weight at the bottom). with the spoons you can catch as many asians as you want as long as the water is running, you hook into one about every 1-3 cast. the carp are just stacked right next to the dam shoulder to shoulder. we release any fish caught other than asian carp, which the CPO’s tell everyone to kill and throw em back into the river (or kill and keep)other wise you will receive a ticket for illegal dumping if you throw em on shore. (just what the CPO tells us), they have alot of problems down there with people killing em and throwing em on shore and they get quite smelly, its better to put em in the river for the turtles and catfish to eat i guess. all of these methods are CPO approved and work well for hooking into good size fish that fight hard, its just too bad they are asian carp!”“”..... as stated this is just what the CPO’s have told us over the years. i am open to any objections/commments of this method but from what i understand and have been told by CPO’s it is a way around the law but ONLY FOR ASIAN CARP! please release all sportfish caught with this method!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/24 at 01:15 AM

hopefully this will clarify some questions about carlyle dam. i hope that more people come down and try this method for asian carp as there are plenty to go around! and to go more in depth about the spoons, walmart has an assorted set of 10 for around 12 bucks that range from 1/4 to 1 oz spoons that work great and the weight we use depends on how much water is being let out. if anyone has anymore questions feel free to email me and i would be glad to show you how its done.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/24 at 01:21 AM

Thanks for the insight Josh!  I just might have to make a trip to get some spoons and give it a try.  As far as killing them and feeding them to the turtles are you using a billy club or something else?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/24 at 07:45 AM

Rapper ... The “clues” that are on sale Wal-Mart, Sounds like you know from experience. How much are they?

Posted by HawgNSonsTV on 06/24 at 08:25 AM

to kill em we just use a good old baseball bat. and they dont “bite” the bait, i have caught many in the mouth but that is only because they are filter feeders (like spoonbills) and they filter feed with their mouths wide open.they feed by forcing water through their gills and extracting the photoplankton/zooplankton so they may inhale certain baits by doing this but the asian carp have no stomachs so they would be unable to process anyother food such as crawdads, small fish or any thing else. if you throw upstream and pull the spoon down, or veritcall jig from a boat you will catch 1 out of 5 in the mouth just on chance. a double jig rig also works the same as you will hook em in the mouth quite often.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/24 at 11:06 AM

Well it didn’t take long for this to make national news gotta read some of the comments some are unbelievably stupid.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/24 at 12:52 PM

Carp CANNOT digest regular food like bait fish, worms, etc. Again they are filter feeders. The way they filter is by swimming with their mouths wide open. Of coarse you will catch some in the mouth if they are filtering water like that. Think about it….

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/24 at 01:06 PM

Josh, you seem to know it all! Get involved since you know so much about these fish, and their tendencies. Waiting to hear more of your holy advice.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/25 at 09:45 PM

ad- i dont know it all or claim to. all of my advice and opinions are based on my experience from catching asian carp and witnessing what has happened around here.there isnt much i can “get involved with” concerning asian carp because im not a crooked politician from chicago,just an average joe.
Captain Bill- sorry for the typo, the comment sections needs spell check wink

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/26 at 01:18 PM

I think if Josh is down there snagging them and beating them with baseball bats he is getting pretty involved.

Posted by illin on 06/26 at 01:49 PM

lol illin,  im more of a “hands on” type of person anyways! i think me and my buddies have reduced the numbers by a few thousand over the last couple years!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/26 at 02:20 PM

well, if you think of all the reproductive potential of those fish, you could have single-handedly reduced the numbers by tens of tousands by now!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/26 at 02:22 PM

thousands. i can’t spell.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/26 at 02:26 PM

some of the hard-core bow fishers down there have been putting a dent on the populations for years, i would hate to see their total numbers!!!! hats off to them!! it takes alot of bleach and water to clean out the boat after a day of good asian carp bowfishing!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/26 at 02:27 PM

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