Electric Fish Barrier Sought To Keep Jumping Fish Out Of Okoboji Lake Chain

Date posted - March 19, 2012

The Iowa DNR and people who live and play on the Iowa Great Lakes — the Okoboji and Spirit Lake chain of lakes — are getting ready to fight an invader. No, not a space alien, but a fish alien.

Last summer’s flooding allowed Bighead and Silver Carp to swim around two dams that normally block their migration up the Little Sioux River. In August, Bighead Asian Carp were found near “the Narrows” on East Lake Okoboji. These fish are bad and pose a hazard, but their cousins are the ones that are feared the most.

Silver Carp – known as the “jumping fish” – were found in Lost Island Lake, just 20 miles south of the Iowa Great Lakes. These “jumping fish” when stimulated by a boat motor are infamous for jumping into the face of a boater, tuber, skier, wake boarder, or jet skier causing serious injuries. Not only that, but they filter feed and could cause the depletion of game fish in the lake because they eat the same thing as baby game fish and the prey fish that game fish eat.

We talked to Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist Mike Hawkins about the fish.

[audio:http://www.kiwaradio.com/files/Hawkins1.mp3|titles=Hawkins1]

He says they are infamous for their behavior.

[audio:http://www.kiwaradio.com/files/Hawkins2.mp3|titles=Hawkins2]

He says people in the Lakes area are afraid they will come into the Iowa Great Lakes and set up shop and not want to leave. Hawkins says they live 15 to 20 years.

[audio:http://www.kiwaradio.com/files/Hawkins3.mp3|titles=Hawkins3]

But, Hawkins says they are excellent migrators.

The solution is for the DNR to build an electric fish barrier at the Lower Gar Outlet.

Julie Fillenwarth, with Fillenwarth Beach Resort says timing is critical to construct the fish barrier this summer, so the lakes are protected.

[audio:http://www.kiwaradio.com/files/Fillenwarth1.mp3|titles=Fillenwarth1]

She says they’re trying to be proactive, so they are fundraising and going to their legislators to get some state funding.

[audio:http://www.kiwaradio.com/files/Fillenwarth2.mp3|titles=Fillenwarth2]

You can go to watersafetycouncil.org for more information and to donate.

Here is a video of flying carp on a river in Indiana.

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