Electric fishing targets carp for marking and removal from Lake Okapina – The Globe

WORTINGTON – A strange-looking boat with a couple of strange gadgets dangling from its bow will be patrolling the waters of Lake Okabena for the next few days, and fellow boaters should give it some space for an electric fishing mission.

The Board of Directors of the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District has hired Carp Solutions, a start-up at the University of Minnesota, in an effort to determine the number of carp fish living in Lake Okabena, and then offer some potential solutions to reduce that number.

William Wright, a fisheries specialist, and Charles Eggberg, a project assistant, will crew the electric fishing boat during Wednesday’s day, setting off the nets, measuring them, chopping them, and bringing them back to the lake.

“We are excited to be working on more lakes in Minnesota. Before he returns to the lake, we are happy to help with the carp removal process,” Egberg said Tuesday.

“We’re hoping to make a big impact, and hopefully that will start a healthy chain reaction with the lake,” Wright added.

The process is simple. The two men take turns driving the boat and standing on its raised deck, where they lean on its railing to watch the water below, armed with rubber gloves and net. Two poles extend in front of the boat, and a piece of metal called a “spider” hangs from each, with six flexible prongs that snap out and resemble insect legs.

Charles Egberg, a project assistant at Carp Solutions, assembles a piece of equipment called a spider, which will deliver electric shocks to the carp in order to stun them, so they can be assembled and cut up for tracking. Egberg and William Wright, fisheries specialists, also with Carp Solutions, will be electric fishing and installing box nets on Lake Okabina for carp removal efforts this week.
Carrie Lucien/The Globe

These “spiders” pump an electrical charge of 25 to 30 amperes into the water to temporarily stun a fish so that it can be crammed into the boat and given a tracking tag before it is released back into the lake.

On Monday, the two men caught 41 carps, and by the end of Wednesday they were hoping to catch at least 100 and a maximum of 200.

But this is not the end of the process. They will also create four box nets on the lake, which will be marked by safety posts and signs so boaters can get away from them as well. The box nets were designed so that when a human released them on the nearby shore, four nets that were resting at the bottom of the lake would rise to catch fish between them – which could easily be removed from the lake.

The box nets will be inoculated with crushed corn, a food that the carp love and there are no other inhabitants of the lake, and then monitors will keep an eye on the trackers to see when the carp like to visit the nets.

This will tell them the best time to throw box traps, catch carp and remove them from the lake.

Boaters should avoid box nets, and fishermen in particular, should avoid dumping nearby, as these types of nets “catch” bait.

Carp are an invasive species that root around the bottom of the lake in order to feed, burrow and kill plants while increasing the amount of sediment in the water, which in turn increases the number of nutrients in the water. This can lead to foul-smelling algae blooms, some of which can be toxic.

Project assistant Charles Eggberg, left, and William Wright, a fisheries specialist, both at Carp Solutions, use electricity to shock carp to tag and track them Monday on Okapina Lake in Worthington.  The tracking is part of a larger effort to remove carp from the lake.

Project assistant Charles Eggberg, left, and William Wright, a fisheries specialist, both at Carp Solutions, use electricity to shock carp to tag and track them Monday on Okapina Lake in Worthington. The tracking is part of a larger effort to remove carp from the lake.
Tim Midag / The Globe

Wright and Eggberg warned that if their efforts were successful in eliminating the carp from the lake, people would see the return of grasses and plants in the lake, which is currently somewhat scattered in Lake Okabena. While swimmers and boaters don’t necessarily like plants, their return will be a positive sign for the lake’s ecosystem.

“It’s kind of a passion project for a lot of us,” Wright said, noting that nearly everyone on the Carp Solutions team is from Minnesota, and the only one who isn’t, hails from Wisconsin.

“We all care about the environment, and we all want to help get things back,” Egberg said.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: