Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 10

C R E AT U R E F E AT U R E

By NANCY HENDERSON | Photos by RYAN HAGERTY/USFWS

TOP: Silver carp
jumping in the Fox
River.

Holy Carp!

LEFT: Juvenile
Bighead Carp

This aggressive fish is a formidable threat to native species.

A

s fish tales go, this one is a catch: In Southeastern rivers and lakes, schools of large catfish-like
bottom feeders are terrorizing anglers, boaters
and skiers by leaping out of the water, sometimes 10 feet in the air, and smacking them
with the force of their heavy bodies.
The strange part about this tall tale is that it's
no exaggeration, but a true story about silver carp, one of
four invasive species causing major issues for native fish,
other critters and folks trying to enjoy a laidback day on
the water.
"You'll see [the carp] mostly when boating traffic is in
there," says Allan Brown, assistant Southeast regional director of Fish and Aquatic Conservation for the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service. "Whether the motor in the water
triggers their jumping, we don't know. But those [videos
and photos] are not photoshopped, unfortunately. ...

10

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

And if one of those 70-pound fish hits you, it can do some
damage to you."
The exotic fish, which surfaced in Southeastern waterways in the 1970s, were originally imported from Asia
by private aquaculturists to help clear weeds and algae
from catfish ponds and wastewater treatment facilities in
the lower part of the region. When the area flooded, the
carp escaped into the Mississippi River and its tributaries and kept swimming upstream into the Tennessee and
Cumberland. About a decade ago, large groups of the fish
landed in Barkley and Kentucky lakes in southwestern
Kentucky. They are now found in 45 states.
Although black and grass carp are spreading too, it's
the larger bighead and silver, a.k.a. "flying carp," that
pose the greatest problems, according to Brown. In addition to scaring the heck out of boaters and sometimes
injuring them, they devour the food that sustains na-


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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019

Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 6
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 10
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 36
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 71
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 73
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 74
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - Cover4
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