Asian Carp more than just a nuisance for Illinois River fisherman

By WEEK Reporter

June 11, 2014 Updated Jun 12, 2014 at 2:05 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- The Asian Carp was introduced to American fisheries in the 1970s in an attempt to help to clean up the water. They have since invaded the Illinois River. It is the heart of spawning season, and fisherman say the fish are out of control.

Fisherman Zach Nayden started his fishing career hunting Asian Carp on the Illinois River but this spawning season he could not believe his eyes.

"The last couple days has been something I've never experienced in the 10 years I've been doing this," said Nayden. "They're here by the millions -- t's a school 300 yards long. It's crazy."

In areas just south of downtown Peoria, the fish are actively spawning. They could pose a danger to oncoming fisherman. Asian Carp can grow more than 100 lbs. They flip and flop in the air when anything disturbs their waters.

"It's like someone set off any explosion under water they're just everywhere," said Nayden. "These fish are probably the equivalent of getting hit in the head with a brick or a bowling ball."

They won't stop coming. The long, moving river makes for ideal breeding conditions. The Illinois River is a hunting hotspot.

"We troll through it at a certain speed and get them agitated so they jump and guys just let the arrow fly," said Nayden.

It is a developing market. There are no regulations on how or how much you fish. On a good day Nayden says he catches twenty Asian Carp. Tuesday, he caught 180.

"If there's some industry surrounding this that's be great," said Nayden. "I'm hoping i get to do this for many years to come. It's a great way to spend a summer."