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Carp Classic coming May 18

by JOEL MARTIN
Staff Writer | May 8, 2024 1:30 AM

MOSES LAKE — Bowfishers in the Basin will get a chance to show their skills and help clean up the lake at the Moses Lake Carp Classic on May 18.

This is the fifth year the tournament has been held at Moses Lake, organizer Ty Swartout said. The purpose is both to remove an invasive species from the water and to educate the public about the damage carp do in the lake by furthering the spread of blue-green algae, he said. Blue-green algae can be dangerous to humans, and parts of the lake are periodically closed to swimming and boating because of it.

“Fish and Wildlife say there might be like, between 400,000 and 500,000 carp in Moses Lake,” Swartout said. “Last year, our big fish was 27 pounds. So if you’ve got 200,000 20-plus-pounders in there, that's a lot of mass of fish.”

The carp feed the green algae with their excrement, Swartout said, and when they feed or spawn, they stir up sediment, which dredges up phosphorus that feeds the algae. They also give off phosphorus when they die.

“Because they spawn in shallow waters at roughly the same time with your largemouth bass and your smallmouth bass and your bluegill and your crappie, and all those things, they can really hinder the spawn of our game fish,” Swartout said. “They can cover up eggs with mud; they can disperse the eggs out. So it is a battle.”

The cost to enter is $60 per shooter, Swartout said. Registration will begin at 6 a.m. at Connelly Park, and the boats blast off at 7 a.m., according to the tournament rules. Teams can consist of as many shooters as the boat can safely hold. Shooters will have until 5 p.m. to shoot as many and as large carp as they can. The entry fees will be paid out to the top 30% of teams, or the top 10 if if there are more than 30 teams. (There were 21 teams last year.) In addition, the biggest fish will be worth a $1,300 prize. There’s another prize for the most fish of any size shot, he said.

There are also some koi in the lake, left over from people who toss them out of goldfish bowls. They can grow to be four or five pounds, Swartout said, and they’re very harmful to the lake. There’s a $300 prize for those.

“We’ve only had two shots in five years,” Swartout said. “So it's not something that happens all the time, but it is an opportunity. It's kind of like that golden ticket.”

Last year there were 24 boats and about 75 shooters, Swartout said. 

Everybody is invited to come watch the weigh-in, Swartout said, and get an idea of how extensive the carp problem really is. After the weigh-in will be a raffle, with prizes donated by local businesses.

“The community's been awesome,” he said. “And that's why I'm doing it. I just want this community to not have to go through a situation where they're going to shut this lake down to swimming and stuff in August and September.”

Joel Martin may be reached via email at jmartin@columbiabasinherald.com.

An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect date for the Carp Classic. It has been corrected above.

    A carp shooting team returns to the boat launch at Connelly Park to weigh their catch at last year’s Moses Lake Carp Classic.
 
 
Moses Lake Carp Classic organizer Ty Swartout stands on the bow of his bass fishing boat and prepares to shoot carp as the boat drifts along the shore of Moses Lake at last year’s tournament. This year’s Carp Classic is May 18.