Wild Watersport Targets Invasive Fish
Skarping combines water skiing, basketball, and a few other sports to catch invasive Asian carp across the Midwest.
"Get ‘em! YEAAAAAAH!" Donning a football helmet, zipping along on water skis, and waving a net around to catch giant flying fish and toss them into a floating basketball hoop looks like a joke, but it's not.
Welcome to the relatively new sport of skarping.
Asian carp are a particularly nasty invasive species. Like a lot of things we thought were good that came back to bite us environmentally, Asian carp were introduced to Arkansas fish ponds in the 1970s to help keep them clean. But the filter-feeders escaped and reproduced in the wild.
These suckers are agressive, out-compete native fish, and grow quickly. They can also weigh up to 100 pounds. Asian carp leap out of the water when they're startled by, say, a motorboat. Conveniently, motors are used to hunt them down.
Nathan Wallick and Zac Hoffman, the team behind Peoria Carp Hunters, have been credited with inventing skarping. For years they've been offering river tours and bowfishing along the Illinois River, where you can shoot the fish with archery equipment.
Then, three years ago, they decided to go after the fish in wackier ways. They tried out a battery of weapons, various nets, and a floating trashcan recepticle. Over the summer, they refined the setup, put a basketball net over the can, and dubbed the sport "skarping," saying it combines water skiing and fishing for carp. Watch the video here.
There's a very good reason the players wear helmets. I'm not sure I could even stay up in waterskis, much less catch a 40-pound fish hurtling toward my head with just one hand. But it's incredibly entertaining to watch others try. When these intrepid players win, so do our waterways.
Nathan Wallick and Zac Hoffman, via YouTube