Well, we got some good news this week that should provide a much needed shot in the arm for the area’s tourist industry. The Department of Natural Resources has chosen Clare County for an experimental stocking program. The Department plans on stocking nearly 20,000 fingerling Bighead Carp in Clare’s Lake Shamrock and 30,000 Silver Carp in Harrison’s Budd Lake. Department spokesman Ferd Pectoral made the announcement at Tuesdays County Commission meeting. “This is a new and exciting experiment for the DNR and we look forward to a close working relationship with Clare County and local sportsmen,” said Pectoral. “this is our first large scale plant of these species and we have high hopes they’ll develop into an excellent sports fishery.”
Not everybody likes Bighead Carp and its smaller relative, the Silver Carp. Silvers are best known for their ability to jump as much as 10 feet into the air when startled by passing boats. On the Illinois River near Chicago where Silvers are well established people are routinely injured when these 40 pound fish launch themselves into the air hitting boat passengers. The experience is often described as like being hit in the face with a cement bag. Budd Lake water skiers are going to have to keep a sharp eye peeled for these big babies!
Bighead Carp, aside from being incredibly ugly, reach sizes of close to 100 pounds. The U.S. record taken with a bow and arrow is 92.5 pounds. Like Silver Carp, Bighead are filter feeders. They live off small creatures in the water and are rarely caught with a rod and reel. They do, however, eat huge amounts of seaweed and algae. A big plus for weed choked Lake Shamrock.
In a question and answer session after the Commission meeting, Pectoral conceded that Silver and Bighead Carp are the victims of bad press. “Not only are they not very good sport fish, but they look bad and taste like…..well, like a carp.” On the other hand, they grow to huge size and we think it’s worth giving them a shot,” he said.
Asked about 100 pound carp turning tons of Lake Shamrock weeds into excrement, Pectoral pointed out to a laughing audience that “the way the Tobacco River flows that would be Beaverton’s problem, not Clare’s.”
Both the Clare and Harrison Chambers of Commerce had representatives at the meeting and tentative plans are already being made for a Harrison Carp Festival and highway signs saying “Clare County….where the Carp begin!” Clare police have expressed an interest in expanding their already successful bakery into a fish market called “Cops & Carp.”
Because of the reluctance of both Bigheads and Silvers to take a hook, the DNR has already published rules allowing anglers to hunt using both crossbows and during a brief season starting on November 16th and firearms to harvest these whoppers. A suggested limit has been set at three per day. This will serve a double purpose said Pectoral. “Even if a deer hunter isn’t successful during firearms deer season, he may still bag a couple of trophy Bigheads to hang on the ‘ol buck pole. Driving back to Livonia with a 100 pound carp tied to your roof may not attract the same number of admiring stares as an 8 point buck, but it sure beats being skunked!”