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City Park carp are in for a shock

June 05, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

by Kevin G. Gilbert / staff photographer


Shocked fish

Visitors to Hagerstown's City Park on Thursday were greeted by an unusual, and usually forbidden, sight: electric fishing.

City officials invited state fishery biologists to net several hundred carp so the lower lake can be drained to repair the deteriorating east wall.

Instead of hooks, lures and weights, the biologists are using electric shocks to catch the carp so the fish can be moved to other ponds.


Electric currents are sent through the water from two spidery probes hanging off the front of the 16-foot boat.

It's a safe, efficient way to catch the fish, said John Mullican, fishery biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

"They recover quick," Mullican said.

The shocked fish float to the top where Mark Toms scoops them up in a net using a 10-foot-long pole and dumps them into a green tub on the boat.

Later the fish are moved to holding nets in the lake and then hauled away in a pickup truck with a 300-gallon tank, Mullican said.

The fish who are shocked and missed by Toms' net lay on their side for a few seconds, then shake off the effects and swim away.

Mullican said he uses just enough current - 10 amps - to collect the fish.

After a few trips around the lake the fish catch on and avoid the boat so Mullican plans to give them a few days peace and return on Monday to catch more.

Thinning the carp population in the lake will help prevent disease from spreading among the fish, which is more likely to happen when the lake is drained and the fish become crowded, Mullican said.

Mullican said he wasn't aware of any serious health problems with the lake's carp, although a few fish had bacteria infections.

The fishery biologists caught about 400 carp on Thursday and expect to catch that many on Monday.

The larger carp will be taken to the Cushwa Basin in time for a fishing rodeo this weekend, Mullican said.

The smaller fish will be taken to the Wakefield Valley Golf Club course in Westminster, Md., which has about a dozen ponds, and to two farm ponds around Middletown, Md., Mullican said.

The fish, like those removed in 1995 when the north wall was repaired, will not be returned to City Park.

Not all of the carp will be removed, so the population will be booming again in no time, officials said.

related story: City Park lake draining slated

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