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History of Carp in the USA

Discussion in 'Warm Water Species Fishing' started by rrbski, Jan 11, 2003.

  1. History of Carp in North America
    A Brief History of Carp in North America
    Researched/written by Alan Kowaleski, CAG

    Perhaps you have heard that carp, which is an exotic species not native to North America, have by accident invaded our game fish waters. You may have heard that the carp of today are descended from fish that 'escaped' from private stocks or were illegally introduced by unauthorized persons. How is it then that carp are found in almost every state and in waters hundreds of miles apart from each other. The reason is because the U.S. Fish Commission and almost every one of the state governments in our land undertook one of the greatest far reaching campaigns to establish the carp everywhere in our country. Let me explain.

    Prior to 1900, native North American fish were viewed as vital natural resources. Most of the fish we regard today as sport fish were harvested commercially by the millions of pounds. They were shipped by rail to markets where they were an important food source for a growing population. This was before the advent of refrigeration and communities relied on 'ice house' preservation. Harvested were the basses, sunfish, crappies, pike, walleye, perch, lake trout, and sturgeon. Also coarse fish such as freshwater drum, buffalo fish, catfish, suckers, bullheads and others.

    The results of large harvests were declining stocks of lake and river fishes at a time when the population was expanding. To answer these concerns the U.S. Congress authorized President Ulysses S. Grant to appoint the US Fish Commission in 1871 to oversee the nation's fisheries interests. Among the first tasks was to consider what species to introduce to bolster the nations supply of food fishes. By 1874 the commission after long study issued a report entitled "Fishes Especially worthy of Cultivation" It went on to say that no other species except the carp, promises so great a return in limited waters. Cited were advantages over such fish as black bass, trout, grayling and others " because it is a vegetable feeder, and although not disdaining animal matters can live on vegetation alone and can attain large weight kept in small ponds and tanks".

    In 1876 the commission enumerated other good qualities such as high fecundity (a count of ripe eggs in the female fish), adaptability to artificial propagation, hardiness of growth, adaptability to environmental conditions unfavorable to equally palatable species, rapid growth, harmlessness in relation to fish of other species, ability to populate waters to it's greatest extent, and fine table qualities. By 1877 citing the above reasons and adding 'there is no reason why time should be lost with less proved fishes' the commission convinced of the value of carp imported 345 fishes of scaled, mirror and leather carp from German aquaculturists. On May 26th they were placed in the Druid Hill Park ponds in Baltimore Maryland. The ponds proved inadequate and some were transferred to the Babcock lakes on the monument lot in Washington, D.C.

    So did they somehow escape from these confines to populate nearly everywhere? No. Now the state governments get involved. Records indicate in 1879, about 6.203 fingerlings were produced in the Babcock Lakes. These were shipped to 273 applicants in 24 states. About 6000 fingerlings were produced in the Druid Hill ponds that year and were stocked primarily in Maryland. One year later, 31,332 carp were shipped to 1,374 applicants. In 1882 carp production increased to 143,696 fish, distributed in small lots to 7,000 applicants. In 1883 about 260,000 carp were sent to 9,872 applicants in 298 of 301 congressional districts and into 1,478 counties. During the years 1879-1896 the US Fish Commission distributed 2.4 million carp, some of which were sent to Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Mexico. By 1897 the Commission discontinued the stocking because carp had been distributed nearly everywhere and many states assumed the task of propagation and stocking of carp.

    Within several years many states were involved in the propagation and stocking of millions of carp. The Ohio State Fish Commission stocked tributaries of Lake Erie. Every major river in Illinois was stocked. Fish rescue missions from 1890-1920 conducted by various states and the US fish Commission stocked hundreds of lakes and rivers, particularly into the Midwestern region of the US. In a few short years the effort to introduce the resource of carp had been successful. Newspapers and magazines lauded the importance to the food industry and the bright future of all citizens eating carp.

    Commercial production started in the 1900's. During the decade after World War II, annual catches reached 36 million pounds. Many prominent restaurants and hotels served carp on the menu. Restaurants of the Waldorf and Astoria listed "Carp in Rhine Wine Sauce"

    Following World War II the saltwater commercial fishing industry captured a major portion of the fishing market by consolidating and modernizing operations This resulted in tremendous productions of ocean fish and improvements in processing, packaging ,shipping and storage and a reduction in operating costs. At a time when the oceans were perceived as pure and our rivers were becoming polluted, contributed among other factors to the decline of carp as a food fish.

    History demonstrates that the federal and state governments of the US undertook a massive effort to install the carp in all of our waters from coast to coast in an effort that no other country has ever embarked upon. History also indicates that American anglers in great numbers lead the world today in the history of carp angling since the earliest turn of the century. Generations of anglers have enjoyed the carp as a sport or food fish. History also indicates that the carp found in our many waters did not escaped the ponds of long ago carp farmers, as the myth is told, but were placed carefully for our angling benefit by thoughtful government agencies.
  2. Great read Bob, thanks for the info!!!!!

  3. Very interesting bit of information there. I actually wrote a research paper on carp a few years ago, covering both the introduction of carp to the US and the impact of carp on our waterways and the native fish species present within them. I'd completely forgotten about it until reading this post. There are a lot of myths surrounding carp, and it's good to see some of the truth regarding these fish.
  4. I know that there are several, if not more, species of carp and that one, which now resides in the Mississippi River sytem, and is documented to have excaped from somewhere, can simply overwelm a lake even the size of the Great Lakes. I have read where they are placing some kind of electric shock system to keep the fish from migrating into the Great Lakes near the rivers mouth...
    Anyone know about this situtation I am refering to and somewhere to read about same on the internet?
    THANKS in advance :)
  5. Big Head carp...

    is the one you're thinking of atrkyhntr. And yes it is spreading throughout the U.S. But, I'd also like to point out that it is not a true carp. It was brought to U.S. (southern states) to raise commercially as a food fish. It's ranked 4th as the "most farmed" fish in the world as a food source and is said to be delicious (no first hand experience on this one.) They have worked their way up the Mississippi R....reports of catches in the Ohio R. and Lake Erie have already been made. In the Illinois R. and Chicago R. they are setting up "electric" fences to try and stop them from entering Lake Michigan. These fish grow to 100 lbs (not uncommon)...are plankton eaters....and have proved to be a navigation hazard as they love to jump...and jump quite high...and have injured boaters going down their rivers. The flooding of the Mississippi R. around the ponds they were being raised in is what caused their accidental release.

    Another species to be aware of (again not a carp)...called a a very successful predator and working it's way up from Florida...with reports already showing up in the freshwaters of the east coast states.

    The common carp ending up in all the waters it is in...was by design...not accident....and saved this country's commercial fishing business...and fed the nation as we expanded west. Just starting taking a bad rap as it was capable of surviving in waters we polluted. It has been here long enough now to where it's an actual part of the ecosystem. Look at Lake Erie and how great a fishery it is....and it's loaded with carp. Point of trivia...the ODNR relies on the heavy population of carp in Buckeye sustain the heavy stockings of wipers and saugeyes...without one there couldn't be the other. These other 2 "carp"....we're gonna have to wait and see on....we shouldn't mess with mother nature on some things...but..."WE" always seem to know what's best :rolleyes: ;) :) and continue to introduce fish, plants etc in places other than where "she" did.
  6. That's a good point. One of the biggest, and most flawed, arguments made by people who think carp should be killed, removed, etc. from our waters is that they aren't native species. It doesn't matter if they're native or not because they've been around long enough to be considered, effectively, as a native species.

    On another note, those bighead carp must be a sight. I can just imagine seeing 100lb fish jumping several feet in the air. You'd think there would be regulations against keeping exotic species in holding ponds anywhere near a major river system :confused: .
  7. A few months ago, I saw something on TV about the asian carp. It seems that when a boat passes near a school of them they become scared and start jumping ... Several boaters have been seriously injured when struck by them .... They showed a boat going past some and they started leaping all around the boat, some even jumped over the boat ... It was amazing to watch, I never dreamed a carp would do that .... I will tell you one thing, these boys are gonna be fighters, both when you hook them, and on the boat trip out:D :D :D Can you imagine going 30mph across a lake and getting smacked in the face by a 20lb carp ... OUCH ... Wait til they get to be a 110lb .. 5 or 6 of them could sink a boat:D :D :D , gonna have to start carp fishing with shotguns .... just yell pull:D :D Shootem on the fly
  8. Dangerous fish

    They could become a serious problem quick. I remember reading an article about them jumping & injuring anglers. A guy in FL got hit, knocked him out -broke some ribs-in a channel & he ran his boat aground.
    Here's a link for some pictures of them ( click).
  9. OOPS... :eek:
    Link for the photos heading back to your computer :(
  10. *LOL* 2 times

    Did you read the post before mine from Madcatter ? "A few months ago, I saw something on TV about the asian carp. It seems that when a boat passes near a school of them they become scared and start jumping ... Several boaters have been seriously injured when struck by them .... They showed a boat going past some and they started leaping all around the boat, some even jumped over the boat ..." Asian Carp aka Bigheads- not sturgeon.
    You sure spend alot of time reading all the posts over there !:eek: :rolleyes: Just how many links have you posted in here from over there? :D :D Why don't you post some of my adventures ? Like the "I caught a fish today" from 10-31-02 ?
    You're killing least I can admit when I'm wrong- see that in the link you posted ?
    Fact is, they do jump, and can injure boaters. I rest my case.
  11. I saw a photo somewhere of that guy who was hit by that Asian Carp when it jumped inot him... WOW he really looked beat-up...
    I have searched and can't find it "SIGH"
  12. Yeah !

    Just because a sturgeon is jumping on the bandwagon, doesn't mean I didn't read about an asian carp doing the same thing !:eek:
  13. See guys the trouble with the WWW is we read and see many things... are they true? Only with veriviable proof :rolleyes:
    I remember reading about the asian carp jumping into a boater and there was even a photo... but I cannot find that post in any of the forums I go to... I may have even rec'd an email with the info.... or on the TV News....
    Fact is I saw it and another fact is it could not have been the truth :(
    Another fact..... I can find info in search most engines simply by typing: florida jumping sturgeon but can't find nothing if I change sturgeon to carp hmnmn <---
    So I'll admit I may have been had :) and prob was :p

    We shouldn't go around jumping on each other over something as trivial as this :rolleyes:
  14. atrkyhntr

    Its and Jim go back awhile on the message boards..if i slip up he will be waiting right there to take pics. and post about it :eek: ;)
    So when i see him mess up...i return the favor..he used to correct my spelling all the time..not like i care on these boards if i misspell something..its just fishing talk any
    So dont think WE are getting stired up because of our happens all the harm meant!

    Now speaking of big carp..have you searched for Siamese Carp yet??
    Those boys grow to over 400lbs and the same methods rrbski talks about Euro & american carp anglers using..these anglers do the same..but on much bigger scale(baits the size of grapefruits!)
    I used to have some article links saved..but i think i deleted them awhile ago. If i find them i'll post them for you to see.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2003
  15. hahahaa Ok I see... :D

    WOW :eek:

    OMG thats unreal!!! If the baits are the size of grapefruits the rods must be like telephonte poles LOL
    Simply UNREAL
    I'll have to look that up but right now I am researching for our catfish fight ;)
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