Admit it, we’ve all laughed like crazy at the videos of fish jumping crazily out of the water as a boat streaks across a lake or up a river. Sometimes they actually land in the boat; sometimes they actually land in the boat after slapping someone in the boat “up-side-the-head.” It all looks crazy funny at the time, but imagine a two or three pound fish smacking you in the noggin’ while you buzz past at thirty miles an hour.
Those fish are Asian carp, just one of several species listed here in Kansas as Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS.) Aquatic nuisance species are aquatic animals that are not native to waters they inhabit, and exhibit some sort of behaviors that threaten native species. In Kansas, ANS include white perch, two species of Asian carp, zebra mussels and three plant species. Preventing the spread of ANS is largely up to us fishermen, and there are regulations in place in Kansas you need to be familiar with.
Now I know all us fishermen pride ourselves on fish identification, but when young, lots of fish look remarkably alike. When they are little and the size normally used for bait, Asian carp or white perch can easily be mistaken for native sport fish, and transporting them alive to another lake or reservoir might be all that’s necessary to get them started at yet another lake where they’re not wanted. That’s why Kansas regulations state that bait fish must be used only in the lake or reservoir where they are caught and cannot be transported alive to any other water impoundment (with the exception of bluegills or green sunfish which may be used as baitfish anywhere in the state.) Live bait fish purchased from a permitted bait dealer may be used anywhere in the state also, but NO live baitfish may be transported from any ANS designated water. This regulation is aimed at stopping the spread of both species of Asian carp which are voracious plankton feeders capable of eating 40% of their body weight each day and outcompeting with young native sport fish for the same food. Young Asian carp strongly resemble native minnows and shad.
Another regulation to be aware of is that all live wells and bilges on boats must be drained before leaving the lake. This regulation is necessary to help stop the spread of zebra mussels in KS lakes and reservoirs. Zebra mussel larvae, called veligers are microscopic and can’t be seen with the naked eye at that stage of life. In a lake already infested with zebra mussels there may be as many as a thousand veligers in a single gallon of lake water, so spreading them from one water impoundment to another can easily be done unwittingly without even knowing it. Adult zebra mussels look like small clams and attach themselves to literally everything in the water, clogging water intake pipes and the like. Boats and trailers need to be allowed to dry for five days before putting them into a different lake, or they can be washed with 140 degree water, a 10% chlorine solution or hot saltwater.
The most recent statistics I found show that 1 federal reservoir or state fishing lake now contains Asian carp, and 17 contain zebra mussels. Eleven city and county lakes contain zebra mussels. Nineteen rivers and creeks in Kansas contain zebra mussels, and a whopping 46 rivers and creeks are infested with Asian carp.
In summary, the three primary ways we the public can help stop the spread of ANS are;
CLEAN-DRAIN-DRY – boats and equipment after visits to Kansas water impoundments
DON’T MOVE LIVE FISH between bodies of water or up streams
DON’T DUMP BAIT FISH IN THE WATER OR IN DRAINAGE DITCHES – instead discard bait fish on dry land or in receptacles provided at the lake.
Remember the signature line of Smokey the Bear, “Only you can prevent forest fires?”…… Only you can stop the spread of Aquatic Nuisance Species in Kansas lakes, rivers and streams, making it more enjoyable to Explore Kansas Outdoors!
Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]