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Anglers warned not to spread white perch into Winnebago
Invasive fish found near dam on lower Fox River looks a lot like white bass
Associated Press
Posted 09/24/2002

Green Bay - Anglers must be more aware of what they're catching and releasing in Lake Winnebago so they don't introduce invasive species - which is what happened in the Fox River, state biologists say.

It was likely an angler who deposited invasive white perch on the wrong side of the Rapide Croche lock and dam on the Fox River and for the first time sent them close to one of Wisconsin's prime sport-fishing destinations, according to Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologists.

The DNR recently announced that 11 adult white perch were found in the pool above the dam in late August.

More sampling this month turned up younger fish, raising fears that they could eventually make their way to Lake Winnebago.

Terry Lychwick, fisheries biologist for the lower Fox River basin, said the white perch could not have passed through the Rapide Croche facility on their own.

The dam just northeast of Kaukauna, downstream from Lake Winnebago, has been sealed since 1989 as a barrier against sea lampreys and dozens of other exotic species that have invaded Lake Michigan.

White perch are easily mistaken for white bass, sharing the white bass' aggressive nature. They are as easily caught on lures as white bass and taste similar when cooked.

"We are going to need a public awareness program here to bring people up to speed," Lychwick said.

As soon as the water cools enough to kill the current algae bloom, biologists will survey the river to determine how far upstream the fish are.

DNR officials are now questioning the state's plan to reopen navigation on the Fox River by repairing all the closed locks on the lower Fox, with the exception of the Rapide Croche lock, where a boat lift has been proposed.

"I think we need to take a hard look at whether we should be opening those locks," said Kendall Kamke, a DNR fisheries biologist in Oshkosh.

"Is one sealed lock enough? There are 140 exotic species in (Lake Michigan). I'd rather not have just one line of defense. And from the Winnebago system, it's just a leap and a jump to get to other inland areas."

The DNR may move to ban the harvesting of bait fish from the lower Fox River.

It would be possible to use chemicals to kill the white perch in the river, along with every other species, including some sturgeon. Native fish could then be restocked.

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