However, the silver carps' leaping defense also make them fun to snag in mid-air. At the Redneck Fishing Tournament, the best strategy involved smaller boats trailing pontoon boats. As the motors of lumbering pontoon boats churned the waters, skiffs surfed their wakes and avid aerial anglers netted the silver carp that leapt from the waters.
The boat that landed the most silver carp won prize money. This year, Schafer Fisheries collected the thousands of silver carp caught in the tournament. Schafer processed the fish into a nitrogen rich fertilizer.
However, fertilizer isn't the only use for the carp. Schafer Fisheries also processes silver carp from commercial fishermen into fish steaks and even salami, franks and gefilte fish.
NEWS: Invasive Species Cookbook
Schafer's salami could make a low-fat replacement for cold cuts. I tried the salami and found it had only a hint of fish flavor. The fried silver carp I tried at Beasley's Fish, a restaurant in Grafton, Ill., had a mild taste. Five silver carp that I gutted and took home from the Redneck Fishing Tournament wait in my freezer to be filleted.
Eating silver carp makes productive use of an invasive species that would otherwise just be an environmental menace. Like salmon, silver carp contains high levels of healthy fatty acids. However, since the carp feeds lower on the food chain, it doesn't accumulate as many heavy metals as salmon.
IMAGES: © Mark Olson