LA CROSSE, Wis. — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is about to embark on a large scale netting operation after more than 50 invasive carp were caught by commercial fishing operators on the Mississippi River.
DNR fisheries agents say the invasives were pulled from the river in southeastern Minnesota near La Crosse and Trempealeau, Wisconsin during routine netting operations last weekend.
When one commercial fisherman saw what he thought were invasive carp near La Crosse he contacted the DNR. A DNR invasive carp field crew assisted in removing and identifying the fish. The DNR then positively identified 39 silver carp and 11 grass carp caught in Pool 8 of the Mississippi, just south of La Crosse, and one silver carp caught in Pool 6, about 20 miles farther upstream.
All invasive carp recovered have been given to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine their age, size and gender.
"The location where these fish were caught is commonly netted because of concentrations of commercially valuable fish,” said DNR invasive carp field lead Ben Larson. “This is the largest congregation of invasive carp we’ve seen this far upstream."
DNR crews are now working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Wisconsin DNR and commercial fishing operators to conduct large-scale netting, launch studies of the captured carp and increase monitoring on the river.
Previous captures of invasive carp in Minnesota have been limited to individual fish or small numbers of fish. This capture indicates that greater numbers of invasive carp have reached the Pool 8 portion of the river between Minnesota and Wisconsin. Invasive experts with the DNR say this is likely related to the prolonged high water conditions on the Mississippi River during the summer of 2019.
During high water conditions gates at the locks and dams on the Mississippi are kept open to pass higher volumes of water and guard against flooding. The downside is that “open river” conditions allow easier upstream movement of fish from downstream portions of the river, where invasive carp densities are higher.
The DNR is actively engaged in several invasive carp partnerships and prevention efforts:
- The DNR is an active partner in the Upper Mississippi River Invasive Carp Workgroup. The group includes representatives from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and several federal agencies.
- In partnership with the DNR, the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC) at the University of Minnesota is testing and evaluating carp deterrents in Mississippi River locks and dams. Previously, MAISRC installed and evaluated a speaker system at Lock 8. Development of this technology will continue this year with the installation of an updated speaker system at this location.
- The DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Division leads a program to monitor fish population changes and impacts of management actions. This includes maintaining important relationships with commercial fishing operators, as demonstrated in this instance.
More information about invasive carp is available on the DNR website.