Out N' About: Flying carp are out there

March 29, 2004|BUD BARNARD

I guess I missed this one.

While among friends the other day, one of the guys was talking about a story he heard on a radio show in Lexington where the hosts of the show were talking about "flying carp."

My first reaction was that my friend had listened to one too many of the radio shows that these particular folk were broadcasting, and had succumbed to being addled by their supposedly factual story.

One thing that was discussed was a story about an angler traveling in a boat and almost being knocked out of the boat by a flying fish! The fish caught the boater in the chest and almost rendered the angler unconscious.


"Yeah, yeah! I've heard stories before," I chortled as I besmirched his reputation for telling the truth with laughter.

"No, no! I really heard them talking about flying carp, and it sounded as if they were serious," he said, referring to the radio show's hosts.

So I told my friend that I would find out if there really were flying carp, and if there were I would apologize for doubting his word.

I owe him my profound apology.

Two species of Asian carp have been introduced into Kentucky waters

It seems that there are two species of Asian carp that have been introduced into Kentucky waters. Both are considered undesirables, and a danger to the sport fish in our waters.

As always, it seems that someone brought them here from China with the best of intentions, and tried to contain them in one place, but alas, they managed to escape into American waterways and have now gained a respectable foothold in a number of states.

The two species are the silver carp and the bighead carp.

The silver carp is our flying culprit, and will jump as much as four to eight feet in the air when disturbed.

I have found a number of articles and information on the Internet about these carp and will reprint one of them.

The story from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service follows:

"Bighead carp, native to the large rivers of eastern China such as the Yangtze, were first brought to the U.S. in 1972 by a private fish farmer in Arkansas who wanted to use them to improve water quality and increase fish production in culture ponds.

"By 1974, the species was being evaluated by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Auburn University for its potential biological benefits and impacts.

"Bighead carp first began to appear in open public waters (i.e. the Ohio and Mississippi rivers) in the early 1980s, likely the result of escapement from fish farms and aquaculture facilities.

"The species has now been recorded from within, or along the borders of, at least 18 states, and is reported to be piling up in large numbers below dams on many Midwestern rivers and filling the nets of commercial fishermen to the point that nets can't be lifted and fishing sites have to be abandoned.

Bighead carp is appropriately named

"The bighead carp is a very large, deep-bodied, somewhat laterally compressed (narrow) fish with a very large head. "Scales are very tiny, resembling those of trout, and the eyes are situated below the midline of the body. Gill rakers are long, comb-like and close-set, allowing the species to strain plankton organisms from the water for food.

"The bighead carp utilizes open water areas, moving about in the euphotic (surface) zones of large lowland rivers, consuming large quantities of blue green algae, zooplankton, and aquatic insect larvae and adults.

"Because of its feeding habits, the species is a direct competitor with the native paddlefish, bigmouth buffalo, and gizzard shad, as well as with all larval and juvenile fishes and native mussels.

"Some cultures value the flesh of bighead carp as a source of food protein and prefer that these fish be kept alive until immediately before cooking. Such demands are growing, particularly in cities with large ethnic Asian communities."

I guess in the long run I should not be so unappreciative of a friend's stories and comments until I have had a chance to check the facts. It's just that these friends have been known to pull my leg before.

However, there was much discussion as to how to build a specific net to place on the front of a fisherman's boat to catch these fish if they are encountered. There was even a patent discussion.

Oh, well, whatever floats your boat.

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