Officials mystified by bighead carp discovery on Missouri-Arkansas border lake

Minnesota DNR fisheries specialists implant a tag in a bighead carp captured July 28, 2017 in Minnesota. Two fishermen recently caught a 45-pound bighead carp while bowfishing on the Missouri side of Bull Shoals Lake. (Minnesota DNR)

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A recent catch in a lake straddling the Missouri and Arkansas border has some fisheries biologists concerned that the invasive fish would disrupt the food chain.

Two fishermen recently caught a 45-pound bighead carp while bowfishing on the Missouri side of Bull Shoals Lake, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

Nathan Recktenwald is a fisheries biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. He identified the bighead carp as a fish that the department doesn’t want to find in its reservoirs.

The invasive fish competes with other larval fish that eat zooplankton, which can disrupt the food chain. A native of Asia, bighead carp have been found in the U.S. weighing more than 100 pounds.

The bighead found recently seems to be the only one confirmed to have been taken at Bull Shoals, Recktenwald said. He’s examining the fish’s bones to determine its age, but its organs were too deteriorated to identify whether it was male or female.

The invasive fish isn’t known to live in the upper White River, which feeds into Bull Shoals Lake. Recktenwald said it’s a mystery how the fish got into the lake.

The carp’s weight indicates that it has been in the lake for several years, he said.

“Evidence suggests this is likely an isolated incident in Bull Shoals Lake, and no evidence of a spawning population exists at this time,” Recktenwald said.

But department fisheries biologists hope to keep it that way.

“We want to get the word out that we don’t want this fish in our reservoirs,” Recktenwald said.

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