Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Exploring New Sampling Gear for Invasive Carp
Midwest Region, October 31, 2006
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Two trawl boats towing a 100 ft trawl on the Mississippi River. 
- FWS photo
Two trawl boats towing a 100 ft trawl on the Mississippi River.

- FWS photo

- Photo Credit: n/a
Columbia FRO biologist Wyatt Doyle looks over the 100-foot Asian carp prototype trawl. 
- FWS photo
Columbia FRO biologist Wyatt Doyle looks over the 100-foot Asian carp prototype trawl.

- FWS photo

- Photo Credit: n/a

Columbia FRO Biologists met with Greg Faulkner of Innovative Net Solutions to explore new sampling gears for capturing large congregations of Asian carp. 


Faulkner, a master net builder, traveled from Milton, Louisiana, to hand deliver a prototype net.  Andy Starostka, Wyatt Doyle and Andrew Plauck brought two boats from the Columbia FRO to Alton, Illinois. 

Nate Caswell and Colby Wrasse, fishery biologists from the Carterville FRO, brought a boat to help deploy this massive net.  This area on the Mississippi River is known for abundant Asian carp and provided an excellent area to test new gears. 

Since this was an entirely new gear for the crews, they first attempted to use the 100 foot wide, surface/semi pelagic trawl between two boats.  A third boat held the net during deployment while the two large stern trawlers took out the large leads. 

The net was towed downstream in an island side channel where hundreds of carp congregate.  During testing, Asian carp were observed entering the net, but these strong swimming fish were able to swim back out and avoid capture. 

Several modifications were made to the trawl net design with only modest improvements in catch.  The next day, the crews moved to the lower Missouri River with its many navigation dikes and associated dike scour holes. 

The trawl was used more like a large seine in this area yielding only a slight increase in Asian carp catch rates, yet not producing the numbers anticipated.  Ironically the experimental trawl did capture paddlefish in greater densities than other gear types historically used to survey paddlefish.

The net was finally modified for use as a purse seine and re-tested.  This concept is showing promise, especially in the Missouri River.  The primary difficulty is the irregular bottom contour of the dike scour hole where Asian carp assemble.  It is thought that many of the carp are swimming under the net when it is not in contact with the bottom.

Greg Faulkner was very impressed by the net avoidance displayed by Asian carp.  Greg likened them to tuna in swimming ability and will attempt to provide concepts used in tuna fishing for use on Asian carp. He stated that in working globally over his entire career he had never encountered a fish so wary. This is an ongoing gear development project and modifications will be made and tested as time allows in the near future.  

Current methods of capturing Asian carp are labor intensive and can have high incidental catch of other fish species.   The intent is to investigate new gears that will allow the capture of mass quantities of Asian carp while reducing labor and bycatch. 

These potential gears will allow biologists to monitor feral populations of these exotic species and provide commercial fisherman and resource managers new tools to collect and possibly control populations of  these invasive fish in the future.  Since no one knows exactly how many of these fish inhabit our river systems, it is important that we effectively sample and describe their population while simultaneously reducing the population.

Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov
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