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Moses Lake Carp Classic returns Saturday

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | May 21, 2021 1:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — Don’t let anyone tell you shooting fish in a lake is easy.

“I’ve done it and it’s really hard,” said Ty Swarthout. “The arrow likes to shear off into the water, and it can be frustrating. I did it for an hour, but I don’t know if I can do it for 10 hours straight.”

Which is exactly how long the Moses Lake Carp Classic is going to last Saturday. Bowfishers from across the state are expected to gather at the Moses Lake Irrigation and Rehabilitation District’s Connelly Park at 6 a.m., with fishing — or hunting — starting at 7 a.m.

First weigh-ins for fish catches begin at 5 p.m., with a $1,000 prize to whoever catches the largest carp, he said.

“It looks like the weather is going to be decent, and the water quality of the lake is amazing right now,” Swarthout said. “There are areas by my house where I’m seeing down 10-12 feet, and I’ve never been able to do that before.”

“It’s the best I’ve ever seen,” Swarthout added.

Other prizes will go to whoever catches the 10 biggest fish and whoever catches the most carp. While it costs nothing to come and shoot carp or even qualify for the biggest carp grand prize, Swarthout said, registration for the two other categories costs $30 each.

The event is also being organized in cooperation with the Washington Bowfishing Association.

Swarthout first organized the bowfishing event in May 2019, as a way to help remove some of the carp from Moses Lake and maybe improve the quality of the lake water a little bit. As bottom feeders, carp stir up the phosphorus that sinks to the bottom of the lake, helping provide unneeded nutrients to the toxic algae blooms that have plagued Moses Lake over the last few summers.

Because of COVID-19, the Carp Classic was not held in 2020, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming the largest carp fishing event in the state, Swarthout said.

In 2019, Swarthout said bowfishers nabbed around 5,000 pounds, nearly 500 fish, from Moses Lake. That year, the fish were used as fertilizer by a local organic farmer.

This year, Swarthout said the fish will be hauled away by an Oregon-based crawdad fisherman who will use the stinky fish bodies as bait in his traps.

“Whatever we need to do to get the carp out of here, we need to do,” he said.

For more information on the Moses Lake Carp Classic, contact Ty Swarthout at 206-459-2342 or swarthoutfamily@comcast.net.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.