Invasive fish that can jump 10 feet out of the water have been found in Texas waters, TPWD says

Silver and bighead carp must be killed upon possession

Silver carp are known for leaping out of the water when startled (e.g., by noises such as a boat motor). (Ryan Hagerty, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

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.

The bighead carp is a large, narrow fish with eyes that project downward. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

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

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.


About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.