At 9:00 p.m. on a recent Thursday, Henderson residents Brian Rideout and Jonathan Dickson are headed out on the Ohio River. The men are on the hunt for Asian carp which Rideout had never heard of until about five years ago when some friends invited him to go bow fishing.
"The first time they took me out, in 30 minutes, we’d already seen over a hundred fish that were over 30 pounds," said Rideout.
Asian carp aren’t supposed to be here. Farmers brought them to the U.S. in the 1970s for algae control in their ponds, but the species eventually escaped into the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
Asian carp have become a real menace. Rideout says the fish are reproducing at alarming rates. One large adult has the ability to produce up to one million eggs a year.
"The thing that’s so unique about these fish is how quickly they populate," Rideout stated. "The fish have spread tremendously from all the tributaries around the Mississippi River basin to right here in Henderson where we have more than we know what to do with.”
Asian carp also eat too much and that threatens native fish, such as crappy, blue gill, and catfish.
"These type of fish go after, as we’re told by marine biologists, the plankton in the water, zoo plankton and phyto plankton, and that’s what the smaller, domestic fish feed off of," explained Rideout.
The fish can consume up to 25 percent of their weight a day. Asian carp also don’t have a natural predator.