An angler fishing a private gravel pit within the Minnesota River floodplain near Redwood Falls caught a massive bighead carp Sunday measuring nearly 4 feet and weighing 62 pounds.
The fish is the largest invasive carp captured in Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources said Thursday.
"The news of this capture is somewhat alarming, given the size and location," Nick Frohnauer, the DNR's invasive fish coordinator, said in a statement. "This bighead carp was captured about 80 miles upstream from the only other bighead carp captured in the Minnesota River."
The agency believes the carp likely entered the gravel pit during a time of high water, noting "the pit is within the Minnesota River floodplain and periodically becomes connected during flood flows"
Frohnauer said although the fish was a female, she showed no signs of spawning.
The DNR invasive carp field crew is working with the local fisheries office and the landowner to conduct follow-up sampling. The crew will also look at sampling areas near the location, including floodplain lakes and the main river.
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Bighead, silver (the kind known in other states to leap from the water and cause havoc for boaters) and other invasive carp have been making their way upstream since escaping into the Mississippi River in the 1970s. These large fish compete with native species and pose a threat to rivers and lakes.
While no breeding populations have been detected in Minnesota waters, individual fish have been caught in the Mississippi near the Twin Cities, the St. Croix River and the Minnesota River, where a 25-pound male bighead carp was caught last year near New Ulm, Minn. In March, Minnesota conservation officials said a silver carp was found for the first time in the St. Croix River.
The DNR said Thursday it was concerned about the potential impacts of invasive carp in the Minnesota River and other waters. To combat them, officials have put defenses in place to thwart their spread. Two years ago, the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam in Minneapolis was closed to try and stop invasive carp from gaining access to the upper Mississippi River above the St. Anthony Falls.
University of Minnesota researchers along with the DNR have also been testing carp deterrents, including installing acoustic speakers at Mississippi River dams at Hastings and Lock 8 in southeastern Minnesota.
The DNR said Thursday it's in the process of awarding a contract to "explore the feasibility of installing an acoustic deterrent system at Lock and Dam 5 in southeastern Minnesota. A deterrent system at this location would help prevent fish from moving into both the Minnesota and St. Croix rivers."
MPR News reporter Kirsti Marohn contributed to this report.