Sunday, January 24, 2021

Invasive species: Carp

Herald Columnist | March 10, 2020 12:12 AM

Of course, carp is an invasive species, but as with the pheasant, the common carp was welcomed with open arms.

Carp fishing was a big sport for young men who couldn’t yet drive. A group of us would drive to the swamp, which was and some of it still is, in the area where the Moses Lake Japanese Gardens are now.

We would grab a couple slices of bread, each, from the bread drawer and stick them in our pocket. Upon reaching the fishing area, we would split up and head to our favorite individual fishing hole.

There we would take the bread slice and pinch off a quarter-sized piece. It was rolled into a ball, commonly called a dough ball by us, and placed on the hook.

This was casted into the water at a distance of 10 to 15 feet. There wasn’t much more water than 15 to cast into. Still the currents were strong and the overgrown grasses made for great hiding places for the carp.

We would catch several fish each during each fishing expedition. Although many carp anglers would simply throw them on the bank to die, my group of anglers would let them go.

We figured, there were so many of them in the lake and surrounding waters, hundreds of thousands, we figured killing five or 10 a day wasn’t going to make a dent on the overall population.

This time period was after the commercial netting of carp in Moses Lake. Yes, back in the, well, the exact dates elude me. It must have been the early part of the last century. There is a photo of men in a swimsuit sitting at the edge of a boat named Minnie Ha Ha.

Research has shown the carp were netted in Moses Lake and shipped back east to Chicago and New York for food from ice cars from Othello. But the story of carp in the United States begins well before the Moses Lake chapter.

Carp has been a food fish in Europe and Asia well before they were established in Europe.

The general carp story goes something similar to this:

A group of carp was imported into the U.S. and placed in ponds around Washington D.C. The various congressmen wanted some of those valuable fish in their states.

This part is rather unusual and strange, but so was this was a special species of fish during this time in history.

Several trains were sent across the country loaded with water and the water loaded with fish. Whenever a stream or lake was crossed, the train would stop and deposit some carp.

Tomorrow: More carp info.