Anglers Asked to Watch for Invasive Fish Species

CONTACT: Steve Rider, Fisheries  
Anglers can help protect Alabama waters by stopping aquatic hitchhikers like the bighead (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) and silver carp (H. molitrix). These two invasive fish species have been spreading within the lakes and rivers of the Mississippi River region in the central United States. These carp also pose a threat to Alabama waters through their potential to dominate the fish populations of streams and lakes which would severely impact recreational and commercial fisheries. Feeding on plankton, these fish compete with native mussels, larval fishes and some adult fishes for food.

Brought to North America from Asia in the early 1970s, they escaped to the Mississippi River and many of its tributaries by the early 1980s. Contributing spreading factors to new waters include wild bait harvest and release of live bait into waterways instead properly disposing live bait into the trash. Early detection of isolated populations may help slow or restrict the spread of these carp.

Photo By: David Riecks, University of Illinois,
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant
As part of the national Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! campaign, the Fisheries Section of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (ADCNR) Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division is asking for assistance from anglers in helping curb the spread of these and other non-native aquatic species.
General characteristics of the carp include:
§            Low-set eye; scaleless head; very small body scales.
§            Large upturned mouth without barbels, unlike common carp.
§            Adults may be more than 60 lbs. in weight and 4 ft. long in length.
§            Hybrids between these fish may exhibit characteristics of both species. 
Anglers can help by using the following guidelines:
§         Do not harvest bait from waters infested with bighead and silver carp.
§         Dispose of unwanted live bait in the trash.
§         Never release fish from one body of water to another.
§         Report all sightings of bighead and silver carp.

If one of these carp is caught in Alabama, anglers are urged to note the exact location of the catch and notify the Fisheries Section of the ADCNR’s WFF Division at 334-242-3471. Specimens will be used to confirm sightings so anglers should freeze fish in a sealed plastic bag. A fisheries biologist will pick up the fish. Anglers can also photograph the fish for verification.

Visit for more information on the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! campaign.
Photo By: David Riecks, University of Illinois,
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit