Chicago Sun-Times
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Fish Kill: species perspective

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I tried to put some perspective on the species both saved and killed during the Great Fish Kill on the Sanitary and Ship Canal in my outdoors column for the Sun-Times on today. To read it, click here.

To get something other than the official perspective, I went to an academic, Philip Willink, of the Field Museum, and Paul Pezalla, owner of Wacker Bait & Tackle and Chicago's leading carp advocate.

Remember, Willink has the best general site on Asian carp and Chicago at The Asian Carp Rapid Response site is

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Save common carp? That would be the same as saving the asian carp. Common carp have wrecked more game fish habitat than any other fish over the past 100 years including the asian carp, so far.And many more millions have been spent trying to rid waters of these destructive pests. By looking at the photos of the garbage dumpsters loaded with fish you can clearly see that the carp has taken over this water as it has taken over all waters it lives in. While it is fun to catch on hook and line the fact remains there is no real skill needed to catch them when they are present in such numbers. The fish kill was a success if you consider how many of these invasive fish were also killed.

That single bighead was probably brought to the scene in the trunk of someone's car in case the poisoning didn't provide any.

That is the one of the great questions of urban, especially Chicago, fishing. From smelt to carp to even our salmon and most of the trout, they are not natives. I have never been able to totally figure out my feelings on that issue, probably in part because the carp fishing guys are some of my favorite people in the outdoors.

Typically, humans pollute the waterways and remove most of the gamefish. Then they blame common carp for "wrecking habitat". How does this make sense?

Common carp have and continue to wreck habitat. There is no denying it and there are many studies that say as much. They are easy and fun to catch on fishing gear but lets not close our eyes to their impact on the waters and on other species. Just look at what the final total of fish were. 90-95% common carp. Does something seem out of balance there? Few game fish. Does the excessive amount of common carp reduce game fish numbers? yes they do.

dale those fish you mentioned may not be native as the common carp is not native. But they are not invasive as the common carp is. I do not see salmon trout or smelt taking over and altering the water clarity and vegetation like the common carp does. They do not overpopulate like the carp species do. There is the difference. its nice to see that some people like to catch carp but lets not look foolish and ask the dnr to save this destructive species. im sure the asian carp fight hard if they were hooked. what then if some people started fishing for them and wanted to save them when the black carp takes over. should they be saved?

Common carp thrive in the canal because they are the species most suited to conditions there. They possess a tolerance for degraded water that most "game" fish do not. As water quality improves, you will probably see more species diversification.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 13, 2009 7:03 AM.

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