Outdoors: Efforts to stop the Asian carp still ongoing, still not enough

Every so often we hear about another plan to eliminate or slow the migration of Asian carp. All plans to stop them have failed except the crews that net them.

We finally have gotten smarter in that the harvesters are using refrigerated containers to keep the fish from spoiling on their way to the airport. There, they are shipped to China, where this nightmare originated.

This is not the fault of the Chinese. Their rivers were loaded with these fish, and they are considered a delicacy in that country. A group of fish farmers in Arkansas brought many of the fish to place in their rearing catfish ponds to reduce algae. The plan was working until a large flood in the late 1990s overran the ponds, and the fish entered the Mississippi River. The ecosystem was perfect for these fish, and they began to grow and multiply.

These fish thrive and feed on two types of plankton: zooplankton, which is microscopic animal material, and phytoplankton, which is microscopic vegetable material. Our river systems contain tons of this material, so these fish truly have found a home.

The problem is they consume so much of the two ingredients that it has hurt our native species that need these substances to feed on coming out of the embryonic stage.

Our world-class white bass fishery almost has disappeared, and some other species have suffered as well. It even has hurt the catfish species, which is one of toughest species in our river systems.

The main concern for our elected officials seems to be keeping these out of the Great Lakes. It is a money issue. Charter boat businesses can suffer if these fish inhabit the Great Lakes, businesses that generate great income for the major cities surrounding the lakes. It seems they could not care less about our major rivers in Illinois and surrounding states.

Our word-class sauger species also has suffered. If it wasn’t for the hatcheries collecting, rearing and restocking, we wouldn’t have many of them left either. Although we now are getting a return on investment shipping the fish to China, we have spent millions on electric barriers and sounding devices.

The harvest crews collecting the fish still are a high presence in both the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. Other exotics, such as alewife, snakeheads and lamprey eels, have biologic controls. Asian carp, so far, have none.

Fishing report

Some catfish have been caught near Allen Park in Ottawa on the Illinois River. So far, that’s been about it. The lack of fishing boats, even on weekends, suggests that our river systems are in trouble.

Cooling-lake action continues to be very good for channel and blue catfish. Bluegill action has been great for both LaSalle and Braidwood lakes. Heidecke Lake in Grundy County has been good for some big walleye and hybrid striped Bass. Shabbona Lake has been fair for black crappie near the boat launch area.

• Fred Krause is a Shaw Media correspondent.

Fred Krause

Fred Krause

Fred is an avid outdoorsman who has been writing about his passion for decades.