Bighead carp are a species of invasive Asian carp. (Courtesy photo)
Bighead carp are a species of invasive Asian carp. (Courtesy photo)
Anglers fishing in the tailwaters of the dam at Lake Monroe have caught a different kind of fish — bighead carp, a fish native to Asia, not Indiana.

The information and a photo recently were distributed on social media. Both bighead and silver carp — collectively referred to as Asian carp — have been found in Salt Creek just below the dam at Lake Monroe since at least 2015.

“I don’t know who caught it or the circumstances,” said Dave Kittaka, fisheries biologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, about the latest bighead carp.

The Asian carp are an invasive species that have quickly worked their way upstream, displacing many native fish species in the process. They also have negative effects on fisheries where they are found, because they reproduce quickly and then eat the food that native and game fish are now eating.

The invasive fish are already found downstream in Salt Creek and the White River, including near Williams Dam. The silver carp are easier to spot because they often jump out of the water when startled by noises such as boat engines.

But Kittaka isn’t surprised an angler either caught or more likely “snagged” bighead carp while fishing in the Salt Creek below the dam. As the population of Asian carp below the dam increases, it’s more likely bighead carp will be snagged by a fisher’s hook because the fish often swim with their mouths open as they search for and feed on plankton in the water.

While Kittaka didn’t see the bighead carp, he recently was at the tailwaters of Lake Monroe just before dusk and saw hundreds of gulls circling above the churning water, swooping down to snatch fish to eat. He said the birds ate the fish so quickly he wasn’t able to verify what type of small fish they were, but some were likely Asian carp.

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