The angler admits he’d never even heard of a black carp before catching this invasive monster on Missouri’s Osage River.
This Bonnots Mill fisherman caught both a mammoth prize and invasive species lesson on March 4, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Jesse Hughes took to the Osage River in search of catfish. What he pulled from the river, however, was far from it.
“We hooked into it and knew it was something big, but I originally thought it was a catfish,” Hughes tells MDC.
Upon pulling his catch from the river, Hughes knew he had no catfish at all. Instead, he’d hooked an enormous, 112-pound black carp.
“It was the first I’d heard of a black carp,” he continues to the organization. While his catch is an impressive one, black carp are known to exceed 150 lbs. And there’s no reason Hughes should feel a lesser angler for being unfamiliar with the black carp. These 3 to 5 ft. monsters are an invasive species native to the other side of the globe.
History of the Black Carp in America
The dark, husky carps were first brought to the U.S. in order to help “control snail problems in commercial fisheries,” MDC states. It didn’t take long, however, for the species to escape into the Osage River circa 1994. They’ve been wreaking havoc on native species ever since.
As a result, this carp is on Missouri’s “Most Wanted List” when it comes to non-native fish. Officially titled Missouri’s Prohibited Species List, a fish only makes it here if they’re causing critical damage to conservation efforts. And in the case of the black carp, this is certainly the case.
For fellow anglers, spotting a black carp comes down to color. They’re not a true shade of black but are much darker than the common grass carp. Like all carp species, black carp sport enormous scales in proportion to their bodies. In addition, the pharyngeal teeth – or throat teeth of this species are large. They bear a striking resemblance to human molars, which the species uses to crush mollusk shells – such as the snails they were brought to the U.S. to control.
“Commercial fishers in Louisiana have noted that black carp also have a somewhat pointed snout, a character they find useful in distinguishing it from grass carp. Juveniles and larvae may be difficult to distinguish from those of grass carp and certain other cyprinids,” emphasizes the USGS.
If you do catch one, be sure to report it to your local conservation agency, as the species is believed to be breeding and establishing U.S. populations, Missouri’s News Channel 3 reports.