The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has analyzed recently collected fisheries data from both Kentucky and Barkley reservoirs. Kentucky and Barkley reservoirs have been invaded by invasive carp in significant numbers since 2015.
“When looking at the present density and condition, the sportfish populations have held their own and threadfin and gizzard shad populations are abundant even with the presence of invasive carp,” said Tim Broadbent, TWRA Regional Fisheries manager. “Data collected showed populations were improving with both recruitment and adult densities for both bass and crappie. Our fall electrofishing samples in 2021 showed significant increases with both bass and crappie densities compared to 2019 and 2020 on both reservoirs.”
However, Mr. Broadbent went on to say that although bass populations are improving, densities remain below normal values. As a result, since the invasive carp appeared in the two reservoirs, many people have attributed the reduced catch rates of bass and crappie to invasive carp. Although TWRA biologists are aware of the possible detrimental effects of invasive carp, biologist have historical data showing fisheries populations are variable year to year and the fluctuation of fisheries populations, especially bass and crappie, have occurred on these two reservoirs before invasive carp were present in either reservoir.
“Reservoir fisheries will change due to the natural, cyclic nature of fish populations in reservoirs,” said Mr. Broadbent. ‘Fish populations in Kentucky and Barkley reservoirs have been improving since 2018.”
Invasive carp populations appeared to be declining due to commercial harvest and lack of natural reproduction in both reservoirs. Although invasive carp migrate from the Ohio River through the locks when commercial barges navigate lock chambers, the experimental barrier at the Barkley Lock chamber has shown promising effects reducing the migration of invasive carp into Barkley Reservoir. If this positive effect continues, additional barriers throughout the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers will be instrumental in reducing migration of invasive carp.