An Asian carp tournament held this week removed nearly 83,000 pounds of the invasive species, which starves out native fish, from two lakes.
Two lakes that are among the best fishing destinations in Kentucky were the locations this week of a fishing tournament designed to call attention to the problems caused by Asian carp.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources organized the two-day event Tuesday and Wednesday at Kentucky and Barkley lakes and said it was the country's first-ever commercial fishing tournament for the nuisance fish.
The competition drew more than a dozen teams of anglers, all on the hunt for the invasive species, whose exploding population has infested lakes and tributaries all along the Mississippi River.
Click play for a look at Asian carp leaping out of the Illinois River, jolted by a passing boat.
Organizers had hoped to catch as much as 200,000 pounds of Asian carp during the tourney. Nearly 83,000 pounds were landed, placed in a refrigerated truck and taken to processing plants.
"We want people to come to this event so they can see the problem we're dealing with in both of these lakes," Kentucky Fish and Wildlife fisheries director Ron Brooks said in a statement. "We think people will be amazed by the size and quantity of these fish."
Brooks said he hopes the competition will educate the public about Asian carp. State fish and wildlife officials say the non-native fish is gobbling food supplies and starving out other more favorable species, such as crappie and bass.
Asian carp escaped fish farms in the 1970s and spread throughout the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. An electric barrier in a shipping canal near Chicago is meant to keep them from migrating into Lake Michigan, where scientists say they eventually could spread to the other Great Lakes. A three-year federal study is investigating the repeated discovery of Asian carp DNA in rivers and canals in the Chicago area.
Barry Mann, of Gilbertsville, Ky., caught the most fish, slightly more than 28,000 pounds, and took home the $10,000 prize. Heath Frailey finished second with more than 22,000 pounds and pocketed $4,000, according to a report by WPSD-6 News.
State officials are considering expanding the program to as many as five tournaments each year.