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Asian Carp Disrupts Life in Illinois Rivers

The Asian carp, first brought to U.S. waterways to eat overabundant algae, is becoming a major menace to fishermen in states such as Illinois by gobbling up plankton and depriving other fish of food.

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  • ELIZABETH BRACKETT:

    Tim Scott is a professional fishing guide on the Illinois River. Channel catfish are his specialty.

  • TIM SCOTT, Fishing Guide:

    This is what we try to catch up here.

  • ELIZABETH BRACKETT:

    But catches like this are becoming rare on this river because of thousands of large, ravenous newcomers.

  • TIM SCOTT:

    The other day, when I was here, you couldn't catch a white bass, a sauger, a catfish, or anything else, because there are so many Asian carp up here.

  • ELIZABETH BRACKETT:

    Two invasive Asian carp species in the Illinois River are presently making life difficult for Scott, sports fishermen and recreational boaters.

    The first is the silver carp, known for its spectacular and potentially dangerous jumps, jumps that foul motors, knock water-skiers off their skies, and land with a thud in the bottom of boats.

  • TIM SCOTT:

    That's the nightmare fish right here. Out of the thousands that you see, there's millions more that you don't see. A lot of them are hanging deep. A lot of them are three to five times as big as this.

  • ELIZABETH BRACKETT:

    Scott throws out his net in search of gizzard shad, his preferred catfish bait. Instead, he hauls in the second Asian invader species.

  • TIM SCOTT:

    Yes, every three square foot's got one of these. This would be the big-head carp here, not the silver. See how much larger the mouth is? See how big that is? And, if you look right down in the mouth, you can see how they're filter feeders. See the — the plankton rakers right here?

    And that's what they do. They go through the water column, opening their mouth like this, flushing water through their gills, and collecting that plankton.

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