Last week a bow fishing angler on the Mississippi River near Sartell arrowed a 25-pound Grass Carp. This species has previous only been found in Southern MN and lower portions of the Mississippi River. Although Grass Carp are not discussed as heavily as silver and bighead carp, this invasive species is a voracious consumer of aquatic vegetation and were brought over from Russia and China in the 1960’s to control unwanted vegetation in reservoirs. Unfortunately these fish escaped from aquaculture farms and reservoirs and have made a home in some of the southern states.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) believes that the Grass Carp recently caught either escaped via farm flood waters or was intentionally released as they do not believe it could have passed through the dams in Coon Rapids and St. Cloud. Possession of grass carp is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. It is legal for reporting purposes to possess specimens, as the angler did.
The DNR has warned of the dangers that invasive species can have on native fisheries, recreational activities, and our ecosystem. Minnesota has strong laws against introducing invasive species in to waterways because of how serious the matter is.
Although Grass Carp have been found in Southern MN they have not been known to produce here. But from the preliminary examination of the recent carp caught in Sartell it appears the fish had viable eggs. A warning to all Minnesotan anglers of the dangers of invasive species and how fast they can take over our precious lakes and rivers.