Black carp found in Lake Barkley, Kentucky

December 14, 2017

Black carp captured in Kentucky. Photo courtesy of Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
Black carp captured in Kentucky. Photo courtesy of Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

On November 29, 2017 the Critical Species Investigations branch of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Fisheries Division captured the first ever documented black carp in Lake Barkley. Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources staff were working with a commercial fisherman targeting silver carp in Lake Barkley with gill nets when they captured the black carp.

Lake Barkley is the most downstream reservoir of the Cumberland River which begins in Eastern Kentucky, and runs through a large portion of Tennessee before returning to Kentucky and spilling into the Ohio River north of Paducah, Kentucky. Lake Barkley is also joined to Kentucky Lake, of the Tennessee River, via a canal just upstream of the Barkley and Kentucky Dams. Both the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers are a source of significant freshwater mollusk resources. Therefore, the expansion of the mulluscivorous black carp into these river systems could pose threats to native snail and mussel species. Prior to this black carp captured in Lake Barkley, the furthest upstream capture of a black carp near Kentucky was in the Ohio River around Brookport, Illinois.

The black carp was captured on the northern end of Lake Barkley slightly less than a mile south of the lock chamber. The fish was caught in a 200 foot gill net along with six silver carp, one paddlefish, and one smallmouth buffalo. The net was set on the edge of the main river channel at a water depth of 16 feet.

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources removed the eye balls and gonads and sent them to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services La Crosse Fish Health Center for genetic testing. The rest of the fish was placed on ice and sent to the U.S. Geological Survey Columbia Environmental Research Center for aging and digestive tract analysis.

Black carp measurements
Total Length: 37.8 inches
Total Weight: 31.35 pounds
Sex: Diploid (fertile) Male

Learn more about the current range of black carp in the United States.

Learn more about Asian carp response in Kentucky.

Contact:
Jessica Morris, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, 270-759-5295, jessica.morris@ky.gov

 

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