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August 20, 2013

Biologists look to stop Asian carp

Biologists need help in curbing invasive species' progress into Great Lakes.

BLOOMINGTON (AP) — Stop the invasion.

That’s the message biologists with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources hope anglers near Lake Monroe will heed.

The invasion they are concerned with involves several species of Asian carp that can now be found just below the dam at Lake Monroe. They are hoping people fishing in the tailwaters below the dam don’t help spread Asian carp into the lake. At this time, the biologists don’t think Asian carp have been introduced into Indiana’s largest man-made lake.

But they have had reports from some fishermen that some other anglers in the tailwater area have been catching live gizzard shad and then using them as bait in Lake Monroe, which fish can’t reach by themselves because the dam blocks them.

They also fear that some anglers may think they have caught gizzard shad but instead actually have silver carp, one of the species of Asian fish that have been spreading into Indiana rivers and streams, The Herald-Times reported.

“The tailwaters are a critical control point” in the fight to stop the spread of the Asian carp, according to Debra King, assistant fisheries biologist in Indiana’s District 5, which includes Lake Monroe.

“You can fish with live shad from [Lake] Monroe but you cannot transport them from anywhere else,” King explained. That includes the tailwater area that is actually part of Salt Creek, not Lake Monroe.

King said she first found Asian carp in the tailwaters area in 2010, while netting fish to see what species were available for area fishermen and women.

That was a surprise for the biologists, who had thought Williams Dam would be enough of a physical barrier to stop the spread of the Asian carp upstream and into the East Fork of the White River and its tributaries. But the area near Williams Dam flooded in 2008, allowing the fish to swim upstream unimpeded, eventually reaching the edge of Lake Monroe.

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