The Grass Carp Ctenopharyngodon idella... Friend Or Foe?
A Superb Angling Species Or A Danger To Our Indigenous Fish?
There is so much controversy going on at the moment in South Africa about invasive fish species and whether or not they should be completely eradicated from our country. The Grass Carp is amongst these species concerned. Without a doubt this fish is one of the best fighting freshwater fish in our country. They were originally introduced into the country into farm dams to control the weed populations. The Grass Carp was introduced from Malaysia and Germany between the years of 1967 and 1975. They were introduced into dams in KwaZulu Natal and the Mpumalanga provinces of South Africa and obviously there have been quite a few escapes and re-introductions as they are very well represented in many freshwater systems all over the country especially in the Vaal River. The Grass Carp, by definition, prefers large, slow moving or still water. Vegetation is essential. They are very tolerant of temperature change and can withstand anything from 0-38 degrees! Their main food sources are aquatic vegetation, insects and invertebrates. They breed when the waters flood and their eggs float until they hatch; this is probably why they have spread from area to area.
In the Vaal system schools of Grass Carp up to the 1000 mark are constantly being reported. The good thing about the large population of Grass Carp in the Vaal is that the Barbel (Sharptooth Catfish) seem to prefer catching these Carp than the Smallmouth Yellowfish, which has resulted in a good increase in the latter species.
The Grass Carp are a difficult fish to catch but if you get your lure/bait presentation right you will be able to catch them almost at will, and this is very fun to do! Especially when the record for a South African Grass Carp stands at over 30 kilograms! A lot of people say that the Grass Carp are doing a good job as an invasive species in the Vaal system. They have become a primary food source for Barbel and they are keeping the big algae problem under control. The Grass Carp are doing wonders for the Moggel as these fish are not being targeted as much either. This is very good news!