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370 carp pulled from Lake Okabena during second trapping effort

Carp Solutions now plans to complete a report for the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District based on the data it gathered.

 A team from Carp Solutions brings in the final load of carp caught in baited traps from Lake Okabena Tuesday afternoon, July 26, 2022. During this second round of trapping, the crew caught 370 carp, 16 of which contained PIT tags.
A team from Carp Solutions brings in the final load of carp caught in baited traps from Lake Okabena Tuesday afternoon, July 26, 2022. During this second round of trapping, the crew caught 370 carp, 16 of which contained PIT tags.
Dan Livdahl/Special to The Globe
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WORTHINGTON — Carp Solutions returned to Worthington earlier this week, drawing up its four 30- by 60-foot nets on Tuesday from areas of Lake Okabena near Cherry Point, Vogt Park, Ehlers Park and Slater Park.

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By the time their work was done, the crews had captured another 370 carp, resulting in a total haul of 676 carp from two trapping events.

The average weight of the carp removed was 10.4 pounds, according to Cameron Swanson with Carp Solutions, for an estimated removal of 7,030 pounds of the invasive species. Only 11 of the 101 carp tagged in June by Carp Solutions were captured during the two nettings.

“Based on these numbers, we removed an estimated 11% of the carp population in Lake Okabena,” Swanson said, noting that the population estimate was determined using the mark recapture method.

A more complete report will be provided to the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District before the end of the year.

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Charlie Egberg, the Carp Solutions Project Assistant who led the netting process on Tuesday, said that during the second trapping, the net at Slater Park captured the most carp at 138. That was followed by Cherry Point with 113, Vogt Park with 63 and Ehlers Park with 56.

“The pull was better than the first time, but I think that’s just because of the fireworks and the human interaction around the nets,” said Egberg. The nets were installed the week leading up to the July 4 holiday.

The fireworks were launched from Ehlers Park, and the net located just off shore there captured few fish during the first netting, he said. Most of the nets were placed in shallow water, roughly waist- to chest-deep.

Computing the data

Egberg said now that the two trapping events are completed, Carp Solutions will go through the data collected and develop plans to present to the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District regarding any potential future action that can be taken to reduce the carp population in the lake and thereby improve water quality.

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“The main point of the two carp removals is to see the amount of carp that are actually there,” Egberg said. “Hopefully we can get a strong estimation.”

Having worked for Carp Solutions since 2019, Egberg said it’s difficult to compare one lake to another when it comes to carp control. However, he is pleased with the number of carp trapped in Lake Okabena during the first two attempts.

“I think they were both good hauls,” he said. “You can never really say for certain what a pull could or should look like until you get a few under your belt.”

With Lake Okabena connected to various streams and other water bodies, that presents additional challenges in keeping carp out.

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“I have seen lakes that have changed throughout the years, but it’s a process,” Egberg said. “Things unfortunately don’t change overnight.”

That’s understandable, considering carp have been wreaking havoc on water quality in America’s waters for more than a century.

Dan Livdahl, Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District administrator, said the main purpose in hiring Carp Solutions was to get a good population estimate of carp in Lake Okabena.

Feeding begins on Monday for second trapping event.

“Until the experts look at the data and give us a population estimate, I really don’t know if we’ve succeeded or not,” Livdahl said of the more than 7,000 pounds of carp removed from Lake Okabena this month.

Livdahl said electrofishing transects, conducted by Wenck, predicted relatively high carp populations in the lake. He thinks the results of trapping carp this month will drop those carp population estimates significantly.

“They were guesstimating 74,000 carp using electrofishing,” Livdahl said. “That’s a lot.”

When the new predictions are made, Livdahl said the watershed district can then develop a strategy.

“Most people are happy we removed 7,500 pounds of carp from the lake,” he added.

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One of the questions the watershed district had was whether baiting and trapping carp would work in Lake Okabena. Carp Solutions proved it was possible, although it is labor intensive.

Livdahl and OOWD Manager Casey Ingenthron were tasked with baiting the traps for the two events, which amounted to about three hours a day for 13 days.

“It was very time-consuming,” Livdahl said, noting that 2,100 pounds of corn was poured into the netting areas during that time to attract the carp.

The district’s next step will depend on the results of Carp Solutions’ final report, expected before the end of the year.

“If we find out we have too many carp for a healthy lake, we’re going to figure out how to remove them,” Livdahl said.

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Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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