Flying Fish - The Problem with Asian Carp

Flying Fish - The Problem with Asian Carp
By: Wes Wallace
It's a fish flap that's been floundering into the Heartland over the last few years. More than a decade ago, Asian Carp started appearing in streams and waterways along the Mississippi, but you don't always find them under the water.
"I used to enjoy it, cause it's a real kick to see how high they jump up out of the water, " says Joe Ridings, a Resource Scientist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, "After you get hit, three, four, or five times, it's gonna hurt and it gets old quick."
The noise of the boat's engine stirs up the fish, some as big as 30 pounds or more, and they pop out of the water like projectiles flopping into the boat, and yes, as Ridings said, they'll bump into you too.
"I can't get up and move around," says Annette Kelley, another Resource Scientist and our boat pilot, "I liked it at first, but when you deal with them on a daily basis, the fun factor wears off fast."
However this trip down Schenniman Chute, or the hotbed for the hopping fish, proved a bit more entertaining for Kelley and Ridings. That's because I was cringing and cowering in the front of the boat, hoping to avoid the crazy carp. I'm the first to admit I don't like fish, and found the whole ordeal pretty frightening.
Back to the story though.
The carp may be fun to watch as they jump out of the water and fly several feet before falling back into their aquatic home, but the carp also create some concern.
"They really don't belong here and they out compete native species, so they'll eat them or other plants and plankton, " explains Ridings, "Right now we're just not sure if they're damaging the food chain, because nothing's shown up yet."
It's definitely something researchers like Ridings and Kelley will be sure to keep an eye on. In the meantime, if you're wanting to catch a look at the flying fish, or catch them without a hook, line, or sinker. Then put on a helmet and head out on the waters of the Mississippi.