A local fisherman has grave concerns about invasive species that could potentially cause great harm to local waterways.
The Mail reported in its August 8 edition about crayfish and Prussian carp in the Red Deer River. Gregg Blanchett says there is carp in its tributaries and this could have serious consequences for the biodiversity in the river.
Blanchett is an avid outdoorsman, and in preparation for the ice fishing season, he will head upstream in Michichi Creek and catch minnows to freeze and use for bait. A few years ago he noted a suspicious fish.
“I have been catching minnows for a dozen years or so. About three years ago I noticed a couple of these Prussian carp in the net. I didn’t know what they were, I thought they were goldeye,” he tells The Mail. “Last year I caught less minnows, about half were these Prussian carp.”
“This year I had the net in for 36 hours and I caught no minnows. All I caught were Prussian carp in my net.”
Prussian carp have made their way into waterways in Alberta and Saskatchewan.They are hardy fish that can adapt to many different habitats and are a prolific breeder. They have the potential to outcompete native species for food and habitat.
Blanchett says Michichi Creek starts at the McLaren Dam and eventually empties into the Red Deer River. Blanchett believes the fish probably originated in the Red Deer River, but entered the Michichi Creek to spawn.
“I fear that minnows are fairly nonexistent now,” he said. “Now what happens in the spring? You get tens of thousands of these washing into the Red Deer River,” he said.
He said he confirmed the fish by going to the game warden’s office.
“He said kill everyone you get. It’s too late for that now,” he said. “The day for fishing for minnows might be over.”
As an avid fisherman for many years, he has seen a lot of change in the Red Deer River. As a kid, he could catch minnows by the hundreds with a bit of dough. He suspects the introduction of invasive species coupled with heavy sediment that doesn’t provide healthy grounds for spawning could be the cause of dwindling stocks.