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Ramble with Storm: Carp & honeysuckle

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storm3x Mulling things on my morning ramble
with Storm, the family's mixed Lab.

My favorite fishermen in Chicago outdoors are carp guys.

Not sure why that is, maybe it is because modern carp fishermen have to be cosmopolitan enough to embrace European techniques.

In other words, they have a broad view of the world.

I thought of that again the other day when the post about the likely Illinois-record bighead brought some unexpected responses.

One of my favorite carp guys ignited it when he thanked me for calling it a bighead and not a bighead carp.

His point being that people have a tendency to lump all carp into the same basket.

His secondary implied point being that common carp have been around so long that they have become part of our fishing world.

It's kind of disingenuous to try to think of them not being part of our modern fishery, especially around Chicago.

Now that brings me to the oddest thing for me.

Growing up for me, common carp were a trash fish we caught in the muddy farm creeks and rivers in the farmland of Pennsylvania.

And ``real fishing'' only came when we went up into the mountains to fish pristine brooks and streams for brook trout.

So I have a mental block with common carp.

I most enjoy the people who fish them, but have trouble embracing the carp themselves.

Not sure if I will ever solve that one.

Over the past few days, honeysuckle has grown thick along the trail on the abandoned rail tracks above the town pond.

Japanese honeysuckle, that one often favored by folks, is officially an exotic weed in Illinois.

Funny how those things work.

The wisdom of carp and honeysuckle are entwined there somewhere.

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15 Comments

Thanks for your musing Dale. I know that carp are a hard pill for a lot of people to swallow. I know I like many people started fishing for carp because they were what was nearby and available. But it is easy to get hooked on a fish that can fight the way they do and which provides such sport to catch (simple corn on a hook all the way to figuring out the proper ammino acids and protien content of a painstakenly hnad made bait).

I too was musing about carp this weekend as though I have only been fishing for carp for a little over a year I found myself 4 hours away in Oconto Wisconsin, an area teaming with salmonoids, walleye, perch and just about every beloved "game species". While I like fishing for these fish as well my target was carp and carp only. There are not a lot of people that feel that way but they are definitely growing.

I remember being twelve years old, sitting in a rowboat with my grandfather in southern Minnesota. As he viciously clubbed the skull of a bowfin with an oversized pair of pliers, I wondered what the creature had done to deserve such treatment. A huge common carp caught on a yo-yo reel the next morning recieved similar treatment. Their carcasses were put out with the trash.

"They eat the game fishes eggs" was the explanation given. All the locals agreed. Folks had seen their gamefish populations decline over the years and were angry about it. Few considered the ramifications of years of unchecked erosion, wetland drainage, farm chemicals, lawn chemicals, raw sewage etc. in lowering water quality. Little was said of the decades of overharvest of tasty gamefish.

All they could see is "rough fish" in water that used to hold walleye.

The blame-the-carp mentality of those bygone times still lingers on today, as is evident by numerous posts on this blog.

It took me a long time to figure out that this was an oversimplification of a much bigger issue. Regardless of whether you like carp or not, it needs to be understood that water pollution and over-development are the real problems, not carp. Blame god/evolution for the fact that carp can thrive in waters degraded to the point where other species cannot.

.....the old chap kindly drew in the net until a miraculous fish was half out of the water, wallowing on its side. Close to, it seemed terrifyingly huge and strikingly beautiful - its flank evenly covered with large iridescent gold scales, its shape perfectly symmetrical, its fins and tail broad yet fine, almost delicate. It was, the angler said, a carp. Carp: the most sublime example of life on Earth that I had ever seen.

-Chris Yates, describing the first carp he ever saw as a child. From his book "How To Fish"

Carplander you have no idea what you are talking about. Pollution and overdevelopement are the problems? Not the carp? Hardly.the people who are saying carp are destructive invasive pests are scientists and fishery personal. But please, read the truth about the fish that has altered wetlands more than any other invasive fish, the common carp.

http://horticulture.cfans.umn.edu/vd/h5015/00papers/baldry.htm
The effect of common carp domination on wetland and lake ecosystems is complex. Carp uproot aquatic macrophytes when spawning and feeding. These activities also suspend bottom sediments and nutrients, limiting light penetration needed for macrophyte growth. Carp also reduce zooplankton and macroinvertebrate populations by predation and by eliminating macrophytes that provide cover. Phytoplankton populations increase due to increased release of nutrients and reduced predation by zooplankton. Fish and wildlife are adversely affected by the loss of zooplankton and macroinvertebrate food sources, and loss of aquatic macrophytes that provide cover for larval and juvenile fish and substrate for eggs and invertebrates (Kahl 1991).

http://www.inhs.illinois.edu/inhsreports/jan-feb00/fish.html
Carp increased turbidity through the resuspension of bottom sediments, caused the loss of macrophyte cover due to low water clarity and uprooting, released phosphorus normally locked up within bottom sediments and aquatic macrophytes, and lowered the abundance of macroinvertebrates by predation and loss of habitat. Plastic mesh substrate covers reduced the loss of submerged vegetation and associated macroinvertebrates, but did not diminish the effects of carp on turbidity and phosphorus. Further analysis will assess potential effects on zooplankton in pond experiments.

Carplander, would you like a hundred such articles to read proving it is not pollution but the common carp that is the problem?

Anonymous, I am very familiar with these arguments.....having heard them my whole life in 40+ years as a fisherman.

What you say is correct only under certain circumstances. Athough no species has destroyed more wetlands than our own, I won't deny that carp can dominate certain eutrophic ponds and muddy them.

There are different dynamics in play, however, in the Chicago River system and other waters that have been completely degraded by pollution.

Also, we must not forget that it is we who have brought the common carp (and all other invasives) here in the first place. So you can place the blame squarely on your own kind.

The last thing is this...you might as well learn to love them Anonymous, because they are not going away any time soon.

Good fishing.

From the first link provided by Mr. Anonymous:

"..another example is Metzger Marsh, a coastal wetland on the south shore of western Lake Erie. The marsh provides spawning, nursery and feeding habitat for Lake Erie's native fishes.

The area was degraded in the late 1800s with the draining and filling, diking and increased nutrient loading that resulted from urbanization and industrialization."

It goes on to explain the resulting decline in the Northern Pike population there as their spawning areas were destroyed and the increase in common carp as they populated this perfect environment, devoid of natural predators, created for them by human activity. If memory serves, I believe this is referred to by biologists as Trophic Cascade.

Thanks for the intersting links Anonymous. But did you actually read them? Peace.

OK....here are a few more of the thousand or so papers written on the destructive common carp. Please dont take this as a personal attack, carp are indeed fun to catch and strong on the fight. I dont view them as sport fish though. there are just too many of them to be a challenge to catch. sure they fight hard but just look at how many there are and how easy they are to catch. Perfect fish for starting someone especially impatient kids out on thou. But calling a carp a game fish would be like calling starlings or english sparrows a game bird.

And by the way, your comment on "we brought the carp here" very true. But we also brought DDT, Mercury, PCBs, asbestos and a thousnad other pollutants both man made and biological that damaged the land/air/waters, just like the common carp, but there is no reason we cant learn from our mistakes and take action to correct them.

Bass fishermen will love this one!

http://afsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1577/1548-8675%281997%29017%3C1010%3ACCATAA%3E2.3.CO%3B2
"We examined effects of common carp Cyprinus carpio on angler catch rates of largemouth bass Micropterus sahnoides in experimental ponds. Catch rates were significantly lower and turbidity was significantly greater in ponds with common carp. Maximum angler catch rates were negatively correlated with turbidity. Densities of catchable-sized largemouth bass (>200 mm total length) in ponds with and without common carp were not significantly different."

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/environment/article_c268c081-641a-505e-bcf9-f4ea7ef6d869.html
Limnologist Dick Lathrop said the removal of more than half of the carp in the lake over the last two winters has resulted in less silt being churned up by the muck-loving fish. Not only is the water clearer, according to Lathrop, but native plants are doing better and outbreaks of blue-green algae have been minimal.

Wow Carplander....your fish that dont harm the waters also destroys many plants!
http://www.springerlink.com/content/x6223726734m4251/
it can be concluded that, in muddy conditions, small carp affected plant growth by shade stress, which is achieved by a combination of increase in turbidity and the developing of a leaf periphytic cover.

Face it, the common carp has been proven by those in the know time after time to be just as destructive as any of the new carp invaders. Silver, Bighead, Grass and Common, they are all the same and all have the same effect onthe waters.NEGATIVE!

Annonyous:

While I feel compelled to address your statements around the common carps impact on water systems, I feel much more inclined to comment on your statment that the common carp is not a sportsfish because there are to many of them to be a challenge.

I find this an incredibly strange comment. While carp make up a large proportion of the biomass in most waters they are incrdibly good at rejecting an anglers offerings. This is the reason whty euro anglers and companies (where, like most of the world carp are considered the greatest sportfish)have developed an incredible array of rig components and constructions to lead to better capture.

I can say that as a carp angler I have sometimes lucked into significant catches, but it also true that some of the best results I have had were the product of a great amount of time spent considering the mechanics of my rig, my baiting strategy and the watercraft of my venue.

Although I learned how to fish catching carp as a boy, I have to disagree with virtually ALL of your argument carplander.
There is really nothing to debate here. Regardless of how they got here and how their spread and survival was influence by cascading bad decisions on our part, they don't belong and they are damaging to their surroundings and other fishes.
Your rationalizations are nothing more than that. -Rationalizations.

Rob.

As I said, please dont take offense at my comments. But all I have posted re. their impact is true and backed up by many biologists over and over. There is no denying it. And as far as their sporting value, yes they fight hard. But there are simply too many of them to be considered a challenge to catch. Ive fished them for years and totally enjoy fishing for them, but they simply do not qualify as a sport fish. Look at the fish kill. 99% common carp. Are stunted bluegills a sport fish? No. While they might fight hard anyone with a cane pole can catch one. Caro are good at rejecting food? Come on! I have seen all the specialized gear and have to tell you I can catch just as many using a forked stick to hold the rod and a can of whole cornor uncle josh strawberry dough bait. Any day of the week I can plop down on a bank in any number of waters and catch carp. I cant say the same of bass, pike or crappie.

I hunt ducks. It takes skill to call in a duck. I consider them a game bird. A starling is a faster flying bird and a tougher shot (if you were able to hun them). But a game bird? No. There simply are too many of them to call them challenging.

Now lets compare the starlings to carp fishing. Would it be sporting to shoot starlings when you bait them in with bread or bird food in your back yard? Ofcorse not. But those who fish for carp quite ofter bait an area. Ive seen hundreds of pounds of bait thrown in the water at some of their euro type fish ins to attract them. Is that sporting when compared to locating a bass or pike where they live at any given time during the year and making a hunk of plastic look enough like a living thing that it makes them strike. No way. Carp are great fun to catch and can fight pretty good but are in no way difficult to catch and are not a sportfish.

Seems that this has gotten away from this entries original thought. How carp can be disliked and honeysuckle can be favored while both are an invasive species. Yes, honeysuckle are nice to look at and fragrant. Very pleasant. And carp are fun to catch. but it dont mean they are both detrimental to the native plant and fish species and should be removed if possible.

But I think a more accurate comparison would be between a carp and the plant Kudzu that has totally taken over the land where it has taken root the same way carp have taken over the waters they live in.

That's an interesting thought. But I think I would stick with the honeysuckle and carp comparison, in part because more ordinary people know honeysuckle.

I don't know if you realize it Mr. Anonymouse, but you got spanked with your own evidence in comment #6. LOL.

LOL back at ya! What, no comments on the last bunch of links?

Here are a few notes on common carp in your own state!!

"NASHVILLE, IL - The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) today announced that a fishery enhancement project involving removal of common carp begins this week at Washington County Lake, a 247-acre public lake that is managed by the IDNR at Washington County State Recreation Area near Nashville, Illinois.

Washington County Lake has historically provided excellent angling opportunities for gamefish such as largemouth bass and crappie. During recent years, water clarity in the lake has declined, resulting in less healthy game fish populations. The decline in water clarity has been due in part to an abundance of common carp and their tendency to disturb the lake bottom sediments while feeding.

In an effort to improve habitat in the lake for sport fishes, the IDNR is contracting with a commercial fish removal crew to harvest common carp from Washington County Lake. The commercial fishing crew will be removing carp during daylight hours on weekdays only. The project will last up to four weeks, with the goal of removing approximately 60,000 pounds of carp."

http://dnr.state.il.us/pubaffairs/2009/October/wetlands.html
The efforts will focus on removing the destructive common carp, which has been wreaking havoc on the aquatic ecosystem since 2006. The invasive, bottom-feeding carp stirs up the lake bottom, rooting out plants, reducing water clarity, and ultimately destroying the marsh habitat.

“It’s time to bite the bullet and remove the carp,” said Al Pyott, TWI board member and co-founder. “It’s painful because we’ll lose the lakes for a year, but it has to be done to restore the entire habitat for all the species that depend on Hennepin and Hopper.”

http://www.inhs.illinois.edu/inhsreports/jan-feb00/fish.html
Carp increased turbidity through the resuspension of bottom sediments, caused the loss of macrophyte cover due to low water clarity and uprooting, released phosphorus normally locked up within bottom sediments and aquatic macrophytes, and lowered the abundance of macroinvertebrates by predation and loss of habitat.

http://www.epa.gov/wetlands/pdf/DesPlains.pdf
A fish story developed in 1990. The solids in the
wetland effluents were steadily increasing with each
passing week. The source of the problem was found:
a large number of carp were growing up in the wetlands. These fish foraged in the wetland sediments, causing resuspension of
solids.

So, I got spanked lol!!! The only thing getting spanked are our fisheries thanks to the common carp. I dont see the fish kill as a failure at all. While it only killed one bighead carp, it also killed hundreds or thousands of common carp, and that too is a big win for any fishery.

The most admirable fish was the carp. He swam gallantly upstream, leaping the sheerest falls, but once caught and put on the cutting board,lay quiet, accepting serenely what must be. So be it. Sayonara.

-The Rising Sun
John Toland

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on May 12, 2010 9:00 AM.

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Illinois Sportsman's and Parks Raffle: Extended is the next entry in this blog.

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