Invasive Carp Control


Invasive carp laid on its side (bottom) next to a native gizzard shad (top)
Top fish is a native gizzard shad. Lower fish is an invasive young silver carp.
Bill Graham, MDC

It's illegal to use these invasive, nonnative fish as live bait.

Invasive (silver and bighead) carp were imported into the United States to clean algae from tanks in commercial fish farms and sewage treatment plants. Due to releases or escapes caused by flooding, they’ve spread in recent decades and thrive in many rivers. They are also becoming a threat to lakes.

They can hurt boaters.

Fish from both species can top 50 pounds. Large silver carp can leap 10 feet into the air when startled by boat motors, which can cause serious injuries to passengers in moving boats and tear up gear.

They eat native fishes' food.

Both silver and bighead carp are plankton feeders and they deplete food used by native sport fishes such as bass and crappie when they are young. One native sport fish, the paddlefish, feeds on plankton through its entire life cycle.

Anglers spread them in bait buckets.

The most likely way that invasive carp will reach a lake is if anglers carry them in water-filled bait buckets onto the lake. A live fish being placed on a hook can flop into the water, live bait can escape from hooks and anglers are prone to dumping unused bait into a lake when the trip is over.

Learn to ID invasive carp young.

Anglers traditionally use cast nets in lakes and shallow waters to catch small fish, such as gizzard shad, for catfish bait. But there’s a close resemblance between shad and small invasive carp that are 2 to 6 inches long.

It's illegal to use invasive carp as live bait.

Anglers can use invasive carp as bait if the fish are dead. It is recommended that netted bait fish be placed on ice in coolers. The temperature shock kills the carp but keeps them fresh for use as bait.

Don't dump unused live bait!

Anglers should use caution when using live bait in any lake or river, including small community lakes. Unused bait from any source should be contained and put into the trash rather than dumped into the water.

Exotic Invaders

Watch the Exotic Invaders video
Watch the Exotic Invaders video

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