Guest Column: Data Gathering Priority for Carp Management

Guest Column by Jerad Stricker

Jerad Stricker is a conservation tech for Shell Rock River Watershed District.

As a conservation technician for the Shell Rock River Watershed District, my duties and responsibilities include the observation and study of our aquatic environment. I’m grateful that our community values our natural resources, and I take a great deal of pride in working each day to make our watershed better for our generation and those to come.

Of particular interest to our team is the spread of aquatic invasive species. These species are declared invasive because of the negative affect they have on the ecosystem of our lakes and waterways. You’ve hopefully heard about our electric fish barriers and management practices as we’ve been managing water quality and AIS in our lakes since 2004.

This week, after securing funding via a grant program received by Freeborn County, a new carp tagging program has been launched to gather information and data specific to carp in Fountain and Albert Lea Lakes. To date, our efforts have given us enough data to determine the detriment of carp to our lakes but we have lacked sufficient data regarding our carp population, migration/movement patterns, and behaviors. This new tagging program will allow us to locate, track and manage the carp population with precision and will provide the watershed with valuable information for use in our AIS management efforts.

We will be implanting radio transmitters in 30 adult carp in Albert Lea Lake and 20 adult carp in Fountain Lake. We will conduct monthly surveys of carp distribution within each lake and use this data to determine summer carp behaviors, winter carp behaviors, and carp responses to SRRWD-installed electric fish barriers.

As you are fishing or enjoying the lakes in our area, you may wonder if a carp you catch or see is one of the adults outfitted with a radio transmitter. You will be able to tell by observing the carp’s mid-section. A trailing antenna will be observable — leaving no doubt to you that the fish is part of this program. We ask that you please release the carp back into the waterway. Feel free to snap a photo and share with us and/or your community before releasing.

This is just one part of the newly launched Sustainable Carp Management Strategy for Albert Lea and Fountain Lakes. Please visit our website at www.shellrock.org to review the full plan and for information on all of our efforts in ensuring our area lakes and waterways are improved for the environment and our community.

© 2015 Shell Rock River Watershed District, 305 S 1st Avenue, Albert Lea, MN 56007