Stop your carping

Hunting for Fish


Environmentalists might not realize it, but bow hunters have come to their aid in Illinois and Michigan, where Asian carp are pounding at the gates of the Great Lakes. The carp, which consume between 40 percent and 50 percent of their body weight in plankton and detritus each day, were brought to the U.S. in the early 1970s to filter sewage. After making their way into the Mississippi, the fish began to menace the river's ecosystem. Now they're hammering at the locks up north.

Multimillion-dollar electric gates were erected along the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal, to no avail. Illinois authorities dumped 2,200 gallons of the poison rotenone into the canal in early December, a process that required desirable fish like bass and catfish be stunned beforehand, then netted and transported to safe waters at the taxpayers' expense. According to the Associated Press, this elaborate procedure yielded a single dead Asian carp out of more than 10,000 extinguished fish.

While state officials in Illinois and Michigan are locked in a quixotic battle with the carp, small businessmen and archers are making the best of the Asian invasion. The fish, which can grow as heavy as 100 pounds, are perfect for bow hunting. Armed with lightweight compound bows, archers shoot the fish either as they jump (in the case of the silver carp) or while they swim close to the surface of the water (as bighead carp do). For $1,000 a trip, The New York Times reports, fishing guide Chris Brackett takes groups of four out on the Illinois River for bow hunting trips, during which even the most knock-kneed Dramamine-popping amateur is sure to catch something.

The result: profit for the guides, population control for the carp, and more business activity for the local economies along the Illinois.