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Twenty-one teams from Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee have signed up for the country’s first commercial fishing tournament for Asian carp. The Carp Madness Tournament is being held at Kentucky and Barkley lakes in Western Kentucky March 12-13.
“Our goal is simple: We want to purge 100 tons of carp from two of the state’s best fishing lakes,” said Ron Brooks, fisheries director for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
Kentucky Afield television host Tim Farmer will emcee the final tournament weigh-in at 7 p.m. (Central time) March 13 at the Kentucky Dam Marina ramp in Gilbertsville.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is offering $10,000 to the commercial fishing team that brings in the most poundage. The department is dividing a total of $20,000 among the top five teams. Netting is the best way to capture Asian carp since they are plankton feeders and do not bite baited hooks.
Approximately 50 volunteers will help monitor the contest. Spectators can see Asian carp filleting demonstrations and have their questions answered by fisheries biologists.
Although fishermen will likely be bringing fish in to weigh all day long, most will likely be brought in after 5 p.m. (Central time). Final weigh-ins are planned nightly at 7 p.m. (Central time) at the Kentucky Dam Marina ramp, located at the Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park.
“We want people to come to this event so they can see the problem we’re dealing with in both of these lakes,” Brooks said. “We think people will be amazed by the size and quantity of these fish.”
Fish caught during the tournament will be placed in a refrigerated truck for transport to processing plants. Asian carp have white meat without a strong fishy taste when properly prepared. Department employees will be frying Asian carp at the marina ramp and will provide free samples for the public.
Asian carp include three species: the bighead carp, silver carp and black carp. Asian carp spread throughout much of the Mississippi River basin after escaping from fish farms in the 1970s.
In Kentucky, these fish are found throughout most of the Ohio River, Kentucky River, Green River, Salt River and Rough River. Kentucky and Barkley lakes also host large populations.
Asian carp are a threat to Kentucky’s native species and because they feed on plankton. Plankton forms the base of the food chain, which many sport fish rely upon after hatching.
From Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources