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10-Year Plan Begins To Rid Lake Minnetonka Of Carp

VICTORIA, Minn. (WCCO) -- If you want better fishing in Lake Minnetonka, there's one fish that's not welcome. It's the common carp.

Halsted Bay, in the far southwest corner of Lake Minnetonka, is being devastated by carp. According to research done by the University of Minnesota's Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, an estimated 60,000 common carp infest its waters.

The carp are responsible for stirring up mud, uprooting vegetation and creating conditions that promote algae. As the water goes more turbid, so go the gamefish.

"Usually what you see is turbid waters, algae dominated, really green. It is void of vegetation," Minnehaha Creek Watershed District aquatic biologist Eric Fieldseth said. "So today we have four nets set up out here."

To get the upper hand on the carp and reduce their numbers the MCWD staff plan to target the carp's source. They will concentrate on the 14 nearby lakes connecting the watershed that drains into Minnetonka.

"When you get enough carp in a lake it causes this damage," Fieldseth said.

Contracted crews have set baited netting stations on four locations of Steiger Lake.

"We actually use cracked corn and bait them to these locations," Fieldseth said.

Hundreds of carp appear trapped in the nets. Now, the slimy and dirty work of removal begins.

"Another day at the office I guess," contractor Jordan Wein, general manager of Carp Solutions, said.

One by one the slimy carp are tossed aboard a work boat and brought to shore. At the landing each fish is tossed into the back of a pickup truck to be transported to the Wildlife Science Center in Stacy. The fish will provide a tasty meal of protein to the center's wolves.

"When we need to take fresh fish somewhere and put them to good use we bring them there. They have the best fed wolves in the state, I'm sure," Wein said.

It is the perfect use for a destructive pest, and a necessary part of saving a precious lake.

The 10-year project to control the carp and restore fish and wildlife habitat on Minnetonka will also include installation of fish barriers and aeration devices. Better oxygenated water in the winter months will help support bluegill sunfish populations which feed on carp eggs.

The project is funded by a $567,000 grant from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

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