It’s not exactly a flying fish but jumping 10 feet out of the water is still pretty impressive.
Silver carp, an invasive species that have the potential to devastate local ecosystems and “cause significant changes in native fish populations” through competition for food, have been found in Texas, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
“Silver carp can also pose a risk to humans, as they can jump up to 10 feet out of the water when startled by the sounds of watercraft, often jumping into boats, sometimes injuring boaters,” said TPWD Senior Scientist for Aquatic Invasive Species Monica McGarrity.
The silver carp were spotted roughly 15 miles downstream from Lake Texoma in June by bow angler Stephen Banaszak. Bighead carp have also been documented in the area.
Young silver and bighead carp are similar in appearance to shad, which are native to Texas but can be identified by their low-set eyes as opposed to shads’ eyes which are on top of their heads.
“Invasive carp pose a significant risk to Lake Texoma’s ecosystem and boaters and there is adequate flow and upstream river area for them to become established and reproduce in the lake if introduced,” said TPWD fisheries management biologist Dan Bennett.
McGarrity noted that these invasive carp species are not native to the U.S. and since their introduction, they have “become established and problematic in numerous states, primarily in the Mississippi River Basin.”
TPWD officials are working with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are all currently working with researchers at Texas Tech and Auburn Universities to assess the distribution and population of the carp across the Red River Basin which includes Lake Texoma.
Anyone who catches either silver or bighead carp in Texas waters is asked to report the sighting with location information and photos to AquaticInvasives@tpwd.texas.gov.
Because silver and bighead carp are exotic species in Texas, they must be killed once they’re in your possession either by beheading, gutting, gill-cutting or other means or placed on ice. Neither species can be possessed live, TPWD states.