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Bowfishers reap harvest of carp at Carp Classic

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | May 22, 2024 1:20 AM

MOSES LAKE — High winds affected participation, but bowfishers still removed about 2,600 pounds of carp from Moses Lake in the fifth annual Carp Classic on Saturday.

Organizer Ty Swartout said it was one of the smaller turnouts for the tournament.

“We really got affected by that weather we had, especially that 40-50 mile an hour wind. I’ve heard there were probably five or six boats that didn’t come, just because they didn’t know how (the weather conditions) would be.”

Fifty anglers hit the lake and caught - shot with a bow and arrow, actually — 211 carp. The biggest carp harvested in 2024 weighed about 29 pounds.

Pedro Jimenez and Austin Rosbrough shot that fish, and actually it weighed 29.2 pounds. They took the trophy for the biggest fish, and for the most carp shot. The team harvested 44 fish. The award for the 10 biggest fish in weight went to Alex Mendoza and Victor Mendoza, who harvested 164.7 pounds of fish. 

“That was a big female full of eggs,” Swartout said of the biggest fish. “So it’s good to get those big females out of the lake because they’re the ones that are going to produce a lot of babies.”

Carp are an invasive species and are bad for lake health. Their body fluids feed the blue-green algae that has periodically closes Moses Lake to swimming and boating. They’re bottom-feeders, so they stir up phosphorus-laden sediment that also feeds the algae, and phosphorus is a byproduct when they die and decay, Swartout said in an earlier interview. 

The Carp Classic not only allows bowfishers a chance to shoot some fish, he said, but to educate people about the damage carp can do.

The estimate is that there are about 400,000 carp in Moses Lake, he said. Almost 1,000 fish were shot and removed at the 2023 derby. 

“The way that I look at it is, all the fish we get out of the lake helps the lake,” he said. “Even if it’s 200 versus 1,000. We need to think about how many of those fish are going to lay eggs.” 

Catching fish is only part, and not the biggest part, of the reason for the tournament.

“The main reason is educating the community, and hopefully, maybe change some of the laws so that maybe we can, at some point, do a large-scale netting or trapping of some sort, so that we can get large numbers of fish out,” he said. 

And while the weather kept anglers off the water Saturday, conditions were perfect the previous weekend, he said. 

“A lot of the people in the tournament go out the weekend before, kind of see where the fish are,” Swartout said. “Some of the guys caught a lot. One guy shot 84 fish in one day by himself.”

Mid-May is a good time to harvest carp, he said.

“That’s the time of year we like to do (the tournament). In May they come up to spawn,” he said. “So you can get some of the big females, like that 29-pounder.” 

And in the end, it’s also about having some fun, he said.

“We did have quite a few people come out just to watch the weigh-in,” Swartout said. “It was a fun time.”

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.


 

    Alex Mendoza, left, accepts the prize for the 10 biggest fish by weight at the 2024 Carp Classic. He teamed up with Victor Mendoza to take first.
 
 
    Austin Rosbrough, left, and Pedro Jimenez teamed up to catch the biggest fish at the 2024 Moses Lake Carp Classic. Ty Swartout, right, presented the award.
 
 
    Carp harvested from Moses Lake fill the bin at the Carp Classic.