Anglers warned not to spread white perch into Winnebago
Invasive fish found near dam on lower Fox
River looks a lot like white bass
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
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
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.