The two-day tournament at two Kentucky lakes that ended Wednesday was unlike any ever held in the United States.
The first Asian Carp Commercial Fishing Tournament drew more than a dozen teams of anglers, all on the hunt for the invasive species of fish whose exploding population has infested lakes and tributaries all along the Mississippi River.
Organizers had hoped to catch as much as 200,000 pounds of the carp during the two-day event at Kentucky and Barkley lakes.
Nearly 83,000 pounds of carp were netted, placed in a refrigerated truck and taken to processing plants.
"We want people to come to this event so they can see the problem we're dealing with in both of these lakes," Kentucky Fish and Wildlife fisheries director Ron Brooks said in a statement. "We think people will be amazed by the size and quantity of these fish."
Brooks said he hopes the competition will educate the public about the carp outbreak in the freshwater lakes. State fish and wildlife officials say the non-native fish is gobbling food supplies and starving out other more favorable species, such as crappie and bass.
Asian carp escaped fish farms in the 1970s and spread throughout the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. An electric barrier in a shipping canal near Chicago is meant to keep them from migrating into Lake Michigan, where scientists say they eventually could spread to the other Great Lakes. A three-year federal study is investigating the repeated discovery of Asian carp DNA in rivers and canals in the Chicago area.
Barry Mann, of Gilbertsville, Ky., caught the most fish, slightly more than 28,000 pounds, and took home the $10,000 prize. Heath Frailey finished second with more than 22,000 pounds and he pocketed $4,000, according to a report by WPSD-6 News.
State officials are considering expanding the program to as many as five tournaments each year.