The State of Tennessee is collaborating with multiple states and federal agencies to control Asian carp. The recently reported photo of a silver carp from Chickamauga Lake suggests that a few silver carp have migrated upstream through navigation locks. The most upstream observation of silver carp prior was Wheeler Lake near Decatur, Ala in March 2017. TWRA fish monitoring through 2019 has not yielded a single carp, suggesting that silver carp are rare in Chickamauga Lake.
“Asian carp negatively impact Tennessee’s fisheries, recreational boaters, and local economies and we are committed to combatting this problem,” said Governor Bill Lee. “I am pleased that TWRA is looking at technologies to install a protective barrier in Tennessee’s reservoirs as well as subsidizing the removal of carp where they exist. My administration will continue to work with the TWRA to ensure our waterways are protected.”
Tennessee supported and assisted with the experimental sound barrier at Barkley Lock which started testing on Nov. 8, 2019. This barrier is being evaluated to determine if a combination of sound, light, and bubbles will deter carp from entering Barkley Lock. TWRA has been subsidizing commercial harvest on Kentucky and Barkley to reduce numbers of carp. To date over 3 million pounds have been removed, and similar efforts in Kentucky have removed even more carp from the same lakes. TWRA will increase surveillance of carp in Nickajack, Chickamauga, and Watts Bar lakes.
“Migration of carp from the Mississippi via the Ohio River is the primary source of Asian carp in the Tennessee’s reservoirs,” said Frank Fiss, Chief of Fisheries. “Successful reproduction of carp has been rare in these impounded reservoirs and their tributaries, making migration the main driver of population growth. Barriers are also needed in the upper Tennessee River to prevent additional carp from arriving.” In December of 2019 the US Fish and Wildlife Service funding for Asian carp control was increased from $11 to $25 million. Additional federal funding is not guaranteed, but Tennessee will be requesting that funds be used to install barrier projects at strategic locations throughout the state.
Anglers are urged to report any sighting of Asian carp in East Tennessee to email@example.com, please include a photo, and freeze the fish if you can. TWRA does not anticipate immediate impacts on the fishery or any changes to fishing regulations.