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OSAGE COUNTY, Mo. – Last week, an Osage County man was fishing with friends on March 4 when he hooked into a really big fish from the Osage River. He thought it was a catfish initially. But it was actually a 112-pound invasive black carp.  

Jesse Hughes of Bonnots Mill caught an invasive black carp in Osage County March 4. Hughes was catfishing when he reeled in the 112-pound fish from the Osage River upstream of the Bonnots Mill Access. Photo: Missouri Department of Conservation

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, black carp are an invasive fish from Asia that eat mussels and snails, damaging populations of native mollusks. MDC has listed black carp on the Prohibited Species List and it may not be imported, exported, transported, sold, purchased, or possessed alive in Missouri without written approval of the director.

Black carp have been found in the Mississippi River system, including the Osage River, since 1994. According to the MDC, about 30 reportedly escaped from a fish farm during a high-water event and entered that river. There is a strong possibility the species is becoming established.

If anglers catch a black carp or any invasive fish while fishing in Missouri waters, they should contact their local conservation agent.

The black carp caught by Hughes is currently being studied by the United States Geological Survey. He told the MDC, “It’s a little disappointing, as I don’t think I’ll ever catch a fish that big again,” joked Hughes. “But at least it’s one less invasive fish in Missouri waters.”

Black carp appear similar to the common grass carp, but are darker in color and some report the adult black carp have a narrower snout. It also has large pharyngeal teeth, or throat teeth, that resemble human molars used to crush the shells of mollusk and prey.

For more information on black carp, visit the MDC website at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZRa. To learn more about invasive species, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZeV.