Bow hunting for carp

What do you do when faced with the threat of an invasive fish species capable of eating 40% of its own weight in a day, weighing up to 60 pounds, and giving grown men concussions by flying into their heads? Naturally, you crank up the Bon Jovi and declare it open season.

Asian carp are fast-breeding, fast-eating monsters that quickly starve out native species. There are rivers in Illinois where the fish population is now 90% Asian carp. Bow hunting the suckers was simply a natural evolutionary step. In fact, the town of Bath, Illinois has an annual Redneck Fishing Tournament every year where participants attempt to catch Asian carp using anything BUT traditional fishing equipment.

All that aside, Asian carp really are serious business. Last week, fear of a carp-decimated Great Lakes prompted authorities to spend$3 million to poison the Chicago River so maintenance could be done on a $9 million electrified net that keeps the carp out of Lake Michigan. For a slightly more sober look at the threat of Asian carp (quotes about the fish smacking people in the head, and shots of a documentary host beating one carp with a stick keep things from getting too stuffy) I recommend watching the Asian Carp Invasion videos at


  1. I’ve got good news and bad news, kid:

    The good news is that was an amazing shot.

    The bad news is that shot will probably be the highlight of your entire life.

    1. I’ve been a vegetarian for quite a while, but as I recall, these are supposed to be fairly gross eating unless you’re prepared to smoke it. They do get pretty huge.

    2. Maybe they just don’t want to be bothered with cooking it. I remember I used to never bring fish home as a teenager who liked to fish, mainly because my mom would make a big deal about either freezer space, or the mess made while cooking.

      Or, maybe you can’t eat fish from that part of the lake. Seems unlikely for something as large as the Great Lakes so I don’t think it’s the case, but I do know fish from some lakes can’t be eaten. There’s a lake (I think it’s man-made) in Rome, Georgia (fairly close to Atlanta) next to the old GE plant that can’t be eaten from. Still the fishing’s good.

  2. So he mortally wounds the fish, and reels it in to…dump it back in the river? Where it will continue to help feed the problem, no doubt. Real rednecks eat what they kill. Asian carp is good eats. What a waste.

  3. Carp are edible, but they’re bony and most people don’t care to take the effort to prepare them.

    They seem to like to jump like that as the boats pass by. Dunno if anyone has figured out if there’s a particular reason or not.

    They should establish a bounty on ’em- $.10 a head or whatever, and bump it up a little every year. It’s worked to wipe out other species; carp are so fecund that it’s tough to say if it’d work the same way.

    1. Many fish will jump out of the water to escape from predators. In some cases, the vibrations or shadow of a passing boat may trigger this behavior.

  4. That was an impressive shot. Though I’m curious as well about why they released it. You could probably get a good meal off that.

    #3 Hank – Wikipedia says the jumping is from engine noise frightening them. Sounds plausible.

  5. BngBng shld trm dwn thr stff, thy kp pstng snstnlsts bllsht lk ths wtht dng ny ctlly rsrch. You know what the end result was in Illinois after this $3,000,000.00 poisoning? ONE ASIAN CARP WAS FOUND! Meanwhile tens of thousands of native fish were killed off, that is around 100 tons of dead fish. What a great use of tax dollars.

      1. @ phillamb168,0,1269307.story

        “Dozens of boats combed the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in the pre-dawn hours Thursday, finding a lone Asian carp among tens of thousands of poisoned fish.”

        As someone who grew up bow-fishing for buffalo carp, not Asian carp, I can definitely say the buffalo carp taste very poor and are a PITA to properly prepare. The meat has an almost muddy/gritty flavor to it. Smoking a buffalo carp is pretty much the only way to make it edible. For us it was illegal to dump fish you had gotten with a bow and arrow, so common practice was to take them home and cut them up for use as fertilizer.

        The real challenge to hitting a carp is to get one fully submerged under water. The arrow quickly planes out, and the refraction of the water can make the fishes true location difficult to ascertain.

  6. Small carp like that one are quite good smoked. The flavor gets a little strong once they get big though. The carp are vegetarians, so dumping the dead carp back into the river would only make the problem worse by increasing the nutrient load of the river/lake encouraging algae or plant growth. Most likely the carcass will get eaten by a catfish or snapping turtle.

  7. As soon as somebody comes up with some decent grill recipes for Asian Carp, those fish are goners…

  8. Oops, I wrote my comment before some of the other commenters pointed out that Asian carp aren’t particularly tasty. That possibility never occured to me. I haven’t fished since I was a teenager, and I wasn’t living by freshwater then.


    Where did the Boingers say the poisoning was effective? They just stated it happened, and with what purpose in mind. How was that “sensationalist”?

  9. “Well, that’s what happens when you introduce foreign species into an ecosystem that can’t handle them!”
    -Lisa Simpson

    It’s unfortunate that a lack of foresight by a handful of people in the Southern USA [source] has not only ruined local ecosystems, but is now resulting in a merciless slaughter of fish who were doing exactly what they’re supposed to do.

    1. Hey dsac86, link is broken. Please repost?

      @Blaine – the solution to Kudzu is a herd of goats, in some cases. Perhaps we could breed a new species – the water goat? But then again, in 10 years we might have water goat bow hunting season. Imagine what would happen if one of those got scared and jumped at you. JUST LOOK AT IT.

  10. @bayamus. Wrong; the result was one dead carp AND the chance to repair electric fence to try and keep the carp out of the great lakes system. Where I live on the illinois and further south to the miss delta, these carp are now 90 to 97% of all fish biomass. Your comment indicates that you don’t really understand the problem. If the carp did to the great lakes what they’ve done here, you’d lose a few billion a year in the great lakes fishing economy, plus god knows what damages would be wrought on the nations freak water resevoir! Don’t boo hoo about a lousy three mill if you don’t even understand what they’re spending it on.

  11. Not to dogpile on the south, but… isn’t Kudzu thanks to southern farmers as well?

    Someone needs to whip up a recipe for Kudzu stuffed Asian Carp.

  12. I live near the Wabash River and we have a lot of people that play the same game here. One of the guys I work with wants to take me out on the river and kill some of these monsters. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit interested.

  13. So let’s start fishing them en masse. You can fish them and use them as food for humans, pet food, cattle feed, even fertilizer. Asian carp were historically grown in flooded rice paddies to supplement poor rice farmers diet with more protein. It’s been a beneficial fish for humans before – just because they’re hardy and reproduce well doesn’t make them inherently bad. Managing a bounty of fish is actually kind of a good problem.

    Ever heard of the Loaves and the Fishes?

  14. Man, I could seriously use some of these rednecks for my Dwarf Fortress save. Teach those Hell Carp a lesson or two.

  15. Sell them to Red Lobster, who will advertise them as “Illinois Bowfish.”

    They’ll deep fry them, cover them with American cheese, and serve them with tartar sauce.

    And no one will notice the horrible taste.

  16. It’s pretty much the same deal with northern pike up here in Alaska. There are some places you can go where they’ll pay you to kill as many fish as you possibly can. You can use pretty much anything except explosives and firearms. They’re also nigh inedible, and fun to catch.

    1. Northern Pike have a lot of fine bones in them, but they are hardly inedible. We used to get months of eating off of the Northerns we’d catch on summer trips to Minnesota and Canada.

      As far as carp goes, there are some monster carp in Lake Michigan already. 100+ pound carp have been caught near the hot water outlets of the Bailey power plant near the Indiana Dunes.

  17. I’ve gone bow-hunting (for boar) and that is a HELL of a shot. Hitting a moving target with a moving arrow on a moving boat? Nicely done.

    I do love the just generalized anti-rural bigotry that comes bubbling up on any post involving hunting/fishing. I grew up in the city and went hunting with an Uncle who was ex-SAS and instilled in me and my cousins a real love and respect for nature. Hunters and fishermen, the kind who come up every season and not the weekend warrior types, are among some of the most fierce advocates for protecting wild spaces and species. I’ve seen city campers leave godawful messes on sites while the “rednecks” live by the motto of “leave no trace”

  18. Anyone who knows anything about invasive species in the Great Lakes is terrified of these critters. They’ve got potential to do more harm to the ecosystem that Zebra Mussels could dream of. They just get less publicity because the harm is starving out other species (as opposed to clogging municipal infrastructure which costs tax dollars, big time).

    Chicago acted out of desperation, but if you were to attend, say, the last ICAIS conference you wouldn’t hear anyone say anything other that “good job!” despite the nasty collateral damage to native species.

  19. I remember catching a carp on bread mixed with cheap ‘caviar” when I was 14. I threw it in a dumpster when I caught it because I heard it was illegal to throw them back.

    I felt kind of bad about the waste of life afterward.

    If they’re going to be killed they should be put to some use, either made into fish emulsion fertilizer, animal feed, or processed into a palatable human food. Fining people for littering for putting dead carp back in the water and locating disposal collection facilities near boat landings would work.

  20. Perhaps we can develop some sort of super-fish predator that will eat these effectively, and then release it into the wild with the best of intentions!

    I am curious what eats them, though. They’re large and not particularly fast fish, surely something’s got to eat them in their native habitat.

    1. Good idea, but we already have that super predator. It’s us. So what we really need is a very tasty recipe for them, that will wipe out those carp for sure.

      I doubt any measures will prevent the carp from entering the Great Lakes. They are probaly already there. Maybe they just don’t thrive in those lakes, maybe they are outcompeted there by some other fish or don’t spawn.

  21. “Nice shot, seems like one hell of a way to get rid of expensive arrows though!”

    The arrows are attached to fishing line on a reel. They’re not normal arrows, either.

  22. in Australia, where carp is also a problem…

    carp is re-processed into fertiliser.. (see ) & people do eat it (i don’t), & it’s often joked that if u buy ‘coral trout’ in an asian eatery, you’ll most likely get carp.

  23. #41 beat me to it. I will add that the captured carp is placed in fresh water for a few days which gets rid of the muddy/gritty taste if it is to be eaten. Also the fishing is done with electricity, any native fish are left to recover and the carp scooped out to be mulched. It is also illegal to return a live carp to the rivers.

    HTH’s :)

  24. Tiny correction: the $3 million poisoning was of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, not the Chicago River. The Chicago River is the one we dye green (even though it’s already green) and the Canal is the one we poison (even though it’s already poison).

  25. Outstanding. Now here’s something where good ol boys and Patagonia types can come together. Crank the hair metal and crack open an organic beer! Celebrate common cause!

    Why is the boat moving? To scare the fish into the air. Is that not obvious?

    Indeed, not the Chicago River, but the canal.

  26. Not gonna lie, that looks like a lot of fun. impressive shot by the kid, too. Shame the invasive species got so out of hand. Also a shame it couldn’t have been a delicious invasive species.

    We’ve hunted species into extinction before, guys! let’s do it again, only this time for the right reasons!

  27. We had a carp infestation in a bird sanctuary near me. The river that ran close to it flooded into the woods between it and the sanctuary and was full of carp. If you went into the swampy woods you would stir up carp sitting in only a few inches of water. It seemed like they tried to find new bodies of water by creeping across the mud like amphibians.

    I don’t know what they did but a few years later and all the carp in the river were gone. They cleaned out the sanctuary by draining it temporarily. Workers had to collect all the dead carp because their bodies would transmit diseases to birds that ate them.

  28. What the hell was that? I am an angler and not even a vegetarian, but I would never do that to a fish!

    That was just plain cruel!

    Never thought I’d see the day that I actually felt sorry for a fish. Even an invasive species….

    BTW, even up here in Ontario, there are lodges that have turned it into a business to go after them for sport rather than food, since they are an enormous and (in my opinion) disgusting trophy fish.

    At least these dudes aren’t taking them out with arrows through their bodies and tossing them back into the lakes.

  29. Hmmmmm.

    1. Anybody watch the videos of guys in electrified boats traveling through Asian carp rivers? They turn on the switch and hundreds of the things jump out of the water.

    2. My solution?

    A. an electrified boat

    B. An enormous wide mouth funnel that will catch the jumping fish and direct them to a powerful grinder.

    In comes the live fish, out goes the chum.

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