Angling for invasive fish species

Angling for invasive fish species

Dangerous and invasive fish species have invaded many waters in North America and other parts of the world for that matter, threatening the survival of many native fish species.  In an effort to preserve the native fish stocks, many  fish conservation bodies offer incentives to anglers to catch as many of these fish as possible in an effort to remove them from the bodies of water.  If you have the urge to help protect native fish species in your area, you can enjoy fishing while contributing to the preservation of native fish species.

The Northern pikemonnow (formerly known as northern squawfish) belongs to the minnow family. It has a dark green body, cream underneath and clear fins. They are voracious predators that feed on salmon smolts, consuming millions of young steelheads and salmon each year.  The Northern Pikeminnow (Squawfish) Sport Reward Program will pay you for each Northern Pikeminnow you catch over 9" anywhere between $5 and $8 per fish. The program runs from May 1st to September 30th. Fishing for Northern Pikeminnow is done in the Columbia and Snake Rivers in Oregon and there is a bonus offered of $500 for each tagged Pikeminnow caught.

The Snakehead is another invasive fish species that cause a lot of damage to native fish species. With their sharp canine like teeth, they can bite through steel and can grow up to four feet in length. Then there are the giant snakeheads to contend with; reaching a whopping 6 feet in length and weighing up to 66 pounds. The other scary fact about the snakeheads is that they can live on land for four days. No wonder there is a bounty on their fish heads. The Maryland Department of Natural resources, for example, hosts a “Stop the snakeheads” Fishing Derby with free registration and lots of prizes.

There is big fight on to get rid of invasive fish specie the Asian Carp. Whether it is the silver, grass carp, black carp or the bighead carp, they are not welcome and are held responsible for endangering the recreational fish industry. Asian Carp were brought to North America from Asia and have migrated towards the great lakes. In areas like the Mississippi river and its tributaries, they are increasingly replacing native species. They grow quickly, are voracious eaters, and produce rapidly. They can grow to over a meter in length and weigh up to 40 kg.   While the carp is loathed here in North America, it is in high demand in Asian countries and exporting carp to these countries is big business. While the Illinois Department of natural resources pays some commercial fishermen to catch all the carp they can, recreational fishermen can also get into the action. There are fish plants and restaurants that will pay you for your catch, just ask.

These are just a few of the invasive species that are unwelcome guests in our waters and rivers. Your local marine conversation or natural resources office will have more information on which fish species are a danger to your marine location or the ones you fish in.  You also need to be aware of the regulations in place to prevent the proliferation of invasive species such as the responsible handling of bait fish or not dumping exotic aquarium fish into the waters. While I am sure the natural resources managements would rather not have the problem of dealing with invasive fish species, as an angler they present great opportunities to contribute to the preservation of native species while fishing. And if you make some money doing it, that is a bonus.

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