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Minnows And Invasive Fish


mic

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Maybe a stupid question, but I don't know the answer. Do minnows that one buys in a bait shop grow up to be carp or another type of fish you don't want in your farm pond?

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They have in the past, unfortunately "shutting the barn door after the horse is out" is another conservation tool. To really answer your question you should probably check the stance Illinois has on it.

From experience dating back over a 100 years we've learned nothing and allowed carps, snakeheads and even pythons into the country where they thrive.

Today's release is tomorrows gift to another fisherman.

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I believe that most minnows sold are emerald shiners or some related species, which are native to some parts of MO and are well established about everywhere without any apparent problems. And then there are fathead and bluntnose minnows, which are sometimes sold and often stocked in farm ponds. Same thing applies. Some of the larger shiner species are also sold occasionally, I believe. Perhaps the worst "minnow" that is sold is the goldfish, which isn't native. But goldfish have been sold for many years and they just don't seem to thrive anywhere in MO in the wild. Once in a while you see a big one swimming around, but nothing like the carp have turned out to be.

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In my experience, golden shiners and fathead minnows are often the preferred bait minnow species. If you're buying a "big" minnow it's probably a golden shiner.

Al's right about goldfish vs. carp. Goldfish rarely become a problem and you don't find them in numbers unless a system is badly polluted or has severe oxygen problems.

However, when you go to a bait distributor and you see how sloppy things tend to be and when you consider that the bait sellers don't usually have a clue what species of fish they are selling, the potential for new species to slip in is pretty high. You're probably right to be concerned about carp. Their larvae sometimes are pumped up into rearing ponds (amazing that they can survive that, but they regularly do) and if they are taken at a young age it would be hard to pick the few carp out of the hundreds of thousands or millions of minnows being shipped out for sale. They do tend to grow very rapidly at young ages so the fish farmer would be able to pick them out if they are more than a month old.

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But, the minnows sold in the bait store are not the minnows normally in the watershed that you are fishing. So if you toss them in and let them live, the technically become invasive if they survive and reproduce. I have noticed some signs at accesses that state you should kill your bait, no matter what, instead of letting it loose live into a watershed.

I wonder if the Canadian Night Crawlers will overtake our crawlers some day

"Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously."

Hunter S. Thompson

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Bait dealers may only sell species approved by the state (http://mdc.mo.gov/si...tion_form_2.pdf). Most, if not all of those species pose little risk of becoming invasive in the state.

But apparently that is the source of bigheads in the upper Osage system. There is no way for them to get there on their own.

Today's release is tomorrows gift to another fisherman.

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In reality, it depends on what type of neighborhood the lucky minnow gets dumped, or gets loose, or regurgitated, in. In a long, slow, deep hole, life proceeds at a more leisurely pace, traditions are upheld, new ideas are met with a bit of skepticism. Chances are, the minnow will grow up to be a nice, unassuming, respectable shad, a friend to most, not aggressive. Boring. Yet stable. If the minnow gets loose in a fast, loose, riffle, however, things can turn out much dicier. The constant activity of a riffle, what, with all the rocks, fast water, aggressive fish, a literal dog eat dog world. Then, hoo boy, that minnow might grow up having a serious ADD problem. Consuming whatever comes its way, with no thought to the future. I would say definitely a fish that we would be wise to monitor as it grows up. (Education might help).

Little bass grow up to be big bass.

Little carp grow up to be big carp.

Little kids grow up to be a money sucking teenagers.

The circle of life.

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But, the minnows sold in the bait store are not the minnows normally in the watershed that you are fishing. So if you toss them in and let them live, the technically become invasive if they survive and reproduce. I have noticed some signs at accesses that state you should kill your bait, no matter what, instead of letting it loose live into a watershed.

I wonder if the Canadian Night Crawlers will overtake our crawlers some day

...and those were from Europe before they were from Candada.

Aside from the political poo in his tag line, J.D. has it right. Don't release minnows unless you caught them in the watershed where you are fishing.

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Way back most fishermen who used minnows seined them near where they were going to fish and odds were that if you bought them they were caught locally. That's no longer the case now and it's unfortunate that more effort wasn't put into keeping fish from other continents out.

Today's release is tomorrows gift to another fisherman.

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