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DNR Workshop Encourages Bowfishing Invasive Carp Species

  • shooting arrow

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    Photo: J.D. Gray

    The DNR hopes the bowfishers will develop a taste for carp and start catching the invasive fish, which could at least slow their population growth.

  • dead fish

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    Photo: J.D. Gray

    Asian carp includes several species like the silver, bighead, black and grass carp.

Evan Miller is a member of the Hoosier Bowfishing Association. He shoots Asian carp.

“You just never know what you’re going to come up across,” Miller says. “I’ve seen fish that nobody’s shot at that have been some of the biggest fish that I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes.”

With the Hoosier Bowfishing Association and the Bass Unlimited Foundation, the Department of Natural Resource held its second annual bowfishing workshop near Evansville.

The DNR are encouraging bowfishers to aim for invasive species like the Asian carp.

The name “Asian carp” refers to several species including the silver carp, bighead, black and grass carp. Miller says he’s seen the fish jump as high as six feet.

“I think I bruised a kidney from a silver carp jumping up out of the water,” he says.

Silver carp can weigh as much as 60 pounds, but District 6 Assistant Fisheries Biologist Chris Schwinghamer says they are usually around 10 pounds.

“But they eventually escaped and got into our rivers, and now they’re pretty well established in most of the big rivers in the Midwest.”

—Chris Schwinghamer, District 6 Assistant Fisheries Biologist

“The main reason we’re here today is we’re trying to educate people on aquatic invasive species,” DNR Fisheries Management Biologist Rebecca Munter says.

At the event the Schwinghamer says silver carp were introduced into the United States in the 1970s to control plankton populations and improve water clarity.

“But they eventually escaped and got into our rivers, and now they’re pretty well established in most of the big rivers in the Midwest,”  Schwinghamer says during a presentation at the workshop.

Now, they are out-competing local fish for plankton. That’s where the bowfishers come in. The DNR hopes they will develop a taste for carp and start catching the invasive fish, which could at least slow their population growth.

“We’re trying to encourage people that… if they can actually harvest that fish and eat that fish and consume it and take it home, that it’s better than just disposing of the fish,” Munter says.

Those attending the workshop are offered fried silver carp while they watch a demonstration on how to fillet it. After making the case for eating the fish, Miller and other members of the Hoosier Bowfishing Association take the workshop attendees to the water.

“It is a ball,” Miller says. “It’s good to see the expression on people’s faces that have never done this, and they get to shoot that first trash fish.”

They travel down Little Pigeon Creek as the sun goes down, until they hit the Ohio River. They stand on the front of the boat holding their bows. Light from the boat shines into the water.

  • boat

    Image 1 of 2

    Photo: J.D. Gray

    With the Hoosier Bowfishing Association and the Bass Unlimited Foundation, the Department of Natural Resource held its second annual bowfishing workshop near Evansville.

  • shooting an arrow

    Image 2 of 2

    Photo: J.D. Gray

    Light from the boat shines into the water which helps bowfishers see the fish.

When they see one of the invasive fish, they aim and take their shot.

“If you bowfish a lot, shooting a thousand silver carp in a calendar year, is a pretty easy feat actually,” Miller says. He says that if everyone at the workshop were able to take a combined 25,000 fish out of the water it, “wouldn’t even put a dent in the silver [carp] population.”

To combat the invaders from spreading, officials have also deployed a number of other efforts including installing electric barriers and berms.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

  • CompassionateCitizen

    OK, I’m convinced. I want to be a carp hunter. Where do I go, who do I talk to, where is the next orientation … come on folks, let’s get some action information out here now. Where are the details?

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