Hastings anglers have mixed feelings about the potential threat Asian carp pose to our local rivers. Nobody seems happy that the potential barrier for preventing the fish from moving upstream is likely to be built in Coon Rapids, leaving Hastings-area rivers with no protection. That said, two anglers here have different perceptions about what will happen when the carp arrive here in big numbers.
Jim Preissner, a professional walleye angler, has fished waters infested with Asian carp and said it hasn't affected his luck at all. He was at Spring Valley, Ill., earlier this year and he had no trouble catching walleye there.
"It's the best I've seen that fishery in 10 years," he said. "We caught 100 fish a day. We caught all sizes, from little guys to big guys."
Meanwhile, Corey Waller, a Hastings outdoors enthusiast, is concerned about what the future holds for the area. If carp get into the upper Mississippi and the St. Croix, the native populations could be decimated, he said. In waters the carp infest, they make up about 90 percent of the population and beat out gamefish for food.
"The issue here isn't going to be quite as bad as it is farther south of here, with them jumping all over and hitting, you," Waller said. "The problem here will be that they will decimate the bio mass. You could take a 35-pound silver carp - it would eat enough zooplankton to feed how many millions of these other smaller fish. You can see how that could collapse the whole system."
Preissner, though, saw a different effect. He noticed that the walleyes he caught were feeding on small Asian carp.
"That's what they were eating," he said. "That's not a bad thing. Are they the best for the system? No, but Mother Nature takes care of a lot of things. When they first come into a system, there's a concern with them, and I understand that. I just think that Mother Nature helps take care of equalizing everything."
Preissner said commercial fishermen are netting the carp in Illinois and selling their white meat.
A different problem for boaters
Both men agreed on one thing: the arrival of the silver carp would be awful news for pleasure boaters. The silver carp are the ones that fly through the air. They are drawn to noise and have been known to fly into boats and hit those out for a cruise.
"I'm worried about the boaters," Preissner said. "They will jump right out of the water. They will jump into a boat, and they're big."