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Are carp a nuetral species that coexist with smallmouth?


jim bielecki
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Has anyone experienced this...

 

You're fishing a pretty good spot and you're catching fish...no big ones but you've got action...and then all of a sudden...no more bites and you see a carp swimming around the hole you were just fishing.

 

Do carp out compete smallies for resources?

 

I'd like to know what others think. I've talked to carp enthusiasts and they promote catch and release as well.

 

As a non native specie...what should we do when we hook and land a carp?

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It was my experience on day that the Smallmouths followed the Carp around and picked up the spoils. I found a spot and stood on it for almost and hour caching about 100+ Smallmouths that were in amoung and behind or should I say downstream of the Smallmouths. That was a great day on the Fox River for me and I feel that the Carp made it happen. They root around and chase up crawfish and other favorites of the Smallmouth so the Smallmouth stay close behind.

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I've also never had a carp ruin a fishing day (although I have noticed that if I spook the suckers in a hole, the smallies disappear too).

 

That's a really cool observation, Gary. I've read fisheries journal articles about trout doing the same thing with white suckers. You may have some grad student's project lined up right there! But...

 

wouldn't smallies also follow a native bottom-feeder around if the carp hadn't out-competed it?

 

I'm afraid I'm a giant scrooge where carp are concerned. Carp are definitely responsible for uprooting plants and sucking up a lot of invertebrate forage. It's that forage that's critical to the growth of young of the year smallies. Its the success of the young of the year that determines how many new fish will enter the fishery in the future. Carp also reduce water clarity by suspending sediment...in some ways that's a good thing, because it helps reduce the light on the stream bed and knock back algae growth...but it also means that many of our rivers have no chance of ever being as clear as they once were.

 

On the whole, I see them as a big negative. To be fair, they inhabit some of the most degraded systems in the world that didn't get that way because of anything a carp did...but some of the nicer places would be even nicer if carp weren't around.

 

Carp are here to stay. I don't like it, but we can't get rid of them.

 

Personally, I'm 100% behind carp fishing. I am not, however, supportive of catch and release for that species in North America. That makes sense in Euope where carp are native but not in the US where they are invasive.

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Carp and smallies seem to coexist in local rivers. I have caught smallies, carp, and channel catfish from the same hole in a river while dead drifting flies, especially in the spring and fall. In the summer, carp are often in slow, shallow, silty water that does not hold bass. I don't mind hooking into a fish that gives the drag on a fly reel a much better workout than any smallie can. I occasionally fish for carp when they are gulping flies or if I see a big one rooting around in the shallow section of the river that does not hold bass.

 

Carp, although they are not a native fish, are not going anyplace. The only way to get rid of them from a river is to kill everything else in the river, and that is not going to happen. Throwing a carp on the bank is only going to make the river smell bad.

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Did she have big lips????

 

LOL

 

Earlier this season, I watched smallies cycle through a pool I fished. They would almost always end up just downstream of the carp that were present. I love to just observe sometimes.

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Carp, although they are not a native fish, are not going anyplace. The only way to get rid of them from a river is to kill everything else in the river, and that is not going to happen. Throwing a carp on the bank is only going to make the river smell bad.

 

Banking fish is not the only option.

 

European carp anglers practice catch and release to prevent depletion of carp populations. There are business proposals being considered right now to convert Asian carp from the Illinois River basin to animal feeds (although I haven't heard anything about the status of that proposal since the die-off last year). Common carp could be managed the same way. Some people catch common carp for personal consumption as well. More power to them all (although do check for toxin levels in the streams you fish if you are eating common carp...they're generally not very clean).

 

I'm afraid I'll have to politely disagree with the idea that all fish were created equal. Our country is having a hard enough time behaving as if all people were created equal. I don't see that we have the virtue or resources to extend that ethic to fish. A smallmouth bass, or a blue sucker or a river redhorse in the Midwest US is not ethically equivalent to a carp or a round goby or an Asian carp...or even a striped bass for that matter. Exotics alter and often damage the systems they invade. Native fish are adapted to local conditions and give us the best chance for sustainable, high diversity systems into the future.

 

What would your local smallmouth populations look like without carp living with them? That's hard to say without doing experiments, but the streams I know that have low carp populations are some of the highest quality waters around (admittedly it's a little hard to say what's cause and what's effect in some of those cases). The chief saving virtue of carp from an ecological standpoint might be that they repress algae growth in streams by making the water cloudy. Given the current loads of nutrients in our rivers and the potential for harmful algae growth, that activity may be more useful than we realize.

 

If not, I submit the streams of Illinois would be much better off if jim b's buddies in the carp club were ten times more numerous and they were keeping the carp they caught. Heck, they might be better conservationists than we smallmouth anglers are. :)

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I'm all for not releasing a carp...as long as the angler takes it home with him. Otherwise, how is it different from littering. If a butcher had 10 or 20 pounds of meat that he couldn't use and dumped it out on the bank, it sure as hell would be considered littering. Probably polluting.

 

I'm with Eric on this one.

Just curious how long does a fish have to be established before it loses it's "invasive" status.

Like Tim says the carp is here to stay. Maybe we should adjust our attitudes towards this fish. Face it, if they weren't butt ugly and tasted like sewer rat, we would worship them. As far as a sport fish goes they get huge, fight like hell and if you don't think they are challengening to catch try flyfishing for them in clear water.

 

Kind of funny too... aren't smallies in Canada technically an invasive species?

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Here's a tip. Catch a carp. Dig a hole. Put dead carp in hole. Plant a rose bush over it. Enjoy the best damn rose bush you'll ever see.

 

HA! Love it! Remember Squanto?

 

Kind of funny too... aren't smallies in Canada technically an invasive species?

 

Good point here, Mark.

 

Smallies are native in some areas in Canada and not native in others. A study from Northeast Ontario showed that during spring, stocked smallies compete with lake trout for the resources in the shallow areas of the lake. Apparently, that onshore migration and feeding was a critical time for lake trout growth. The results have been very negative for native lake trout and have directly impacted that fishery.

 

Smallies are also not native in Texas. A stocking program for smallies there has resulted in hybridization with Guadelupe bass, a black bass species that ONLY occurs in Texas. The likely result will be extinction of the Guadelupe bass although recovery efforts are ongoing.

 

Nor are smallies native to the west coast, where they eat huge numbers of native trout and salmon smolts.

 

...and God forgive whoever thought it would be a good idea to stock them in BELIZE, where I recently noticed someone has done just that. Imagine tossing a smallie into a tropical tank at the pet store to get a feel for the havoc they're likely to cause there.

 

It's all about the local biota being adapted to each other. Species from outside the system are more likely to be disruptive (and sometimes disasterous). The more disruptions we heap on our streams, the more problems we're likely to have.

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Did she have big lips????

 

LOL

 

Earlier this season, I watched smallies cycle through a pool I fished. They would almost always end up just downstream of the carp that were present. I love to just observe sometimes.

 

 

Ummm smallies are the ones with the big red tail right?

 

Seriously I have canoed a few rivers here and in Iowa and have seen larger bass cruising the flats with schools of carp. I thought I was going nuts the first time but now have seen it a bunch.

 

As for what to do with carp I'll ussually throw them back. I do use a few for fertelizer ever spring though. Drum are a little different. Drum will eat minnows. Yesterday I fished the Mississippi down the street from my house. When I got there the river was just a constant boil from minnows and drum feeding on them. I am not sure what type of minnows they were but they looked like little carp. After reading an article on the Illinois river recently I sure hope they were not Asian carp.

 

The Asia carp are probably the #1 threat to our sport fishing in the USA today. They do not eat any minnows, bugs, or crayfish but they feed on the plankton that everything else eats. This article stated that up to 90% of the Illinois rivers bio mass was Asian carp in places. That is just plain scary.

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One of my favorite weekend morning rituals (when not actually fishing) is to grab a cup of coffee at the gas station in downtown Cherry Valley and head over to the Stae St bridge and the RR bridge and observe. I could stare down at the river for hours. My wife thinks I'm nuts, as probably do the joggers, bikers, etc that pass by while I'm zoned out staring at the water.

 

Anyway, when I see a carp or two cruising around I'm surprised if I DON'T see a smallie or two trailing. They also trail the suckers. The smallies range in size from dinks to good sized fish in the teens. I've never seen a huge smallie doing it, but you rarely see a huge smallie from these bridges anyway.

 

As far as what do do if you catch one, I think Eric has an excellent point. Dead fish on the banks are terrible PR for our sport. Ever have your dog roll in a ripe dead fish? That does NOT smell like Teen Spirit.

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The Asia carp are probably the #1 threat to our sport fishing in the USA today. They do not eat any minnows, bugs, or crayfish but they feed on the plankton that everything else eats. This article stated that up to 90% of the Illinois rivers bio mass was Asian carp in places. That is just plain scary.

 

Some people call that a "trophic block", Ben. The Asian carp (and common carp) consume resources that get tied up in their biomass until they die. Gizzard shad do the same thing, but less dramatically. There are plenty of reservoirs around with 90% gizzard shad biomass.

 

I'm totally buying all the observations of smallmouth feeding behind carp, but jim's original question was "are they a neutral species". Do you guys think the positive direct effects of feeding associations outweighs the negative effects of carp? That should probably be a two part question...are they negative toward smallmouth, and are they negative for the rivers overall?

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My guess is that they are negative to the river overall, therefore negative to smallies.

 

I really don't think that smallies depend on foraging carp to stir up meals, they are just taking advantage of a situation that they have learned to associate with an easy meal. If the carp were gone, they would continue to trail behind the native bottom feeders.

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I'm all for not releasing a carp...as long as the angler takes it home with him. Otherwise, how is it different from littering. If a butcher had 10 or 20 pounds of meat that he couldn't use and dumped it out on the bank, it sure as hell would be considered littering. Probably polluting.

 

I'm with Eric on this one.

Just curious how long does a fish have to be established before it loses it's "invasive" status.

Like Tim says the carp is here to stay. Maybe we should adjust our attitudes towards this fish. Face it, if they weren't butt ugly and tasted like sewer rat, we would worship them. As far as a sport fish goes they get huge, fight like hell and if you don't think they are challengening to catch try flyfishing for them in clear water.

 

Kind of funny too... aren't smallies in Canada technically an invasive species?

 

I must say I've appreciated everyone's participation in this discussion and have learned alot from everyone's view point on this topic.

 

I have to agree with Mark...leaving a carp on the shore really does demonstrate a method of polluting. Good point Mark...I'll admitt I've left a carp or two...or three...on the shore. It also doesn't help develop good relationships with the public. I'll be sure to begin different practices.

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