A photo taken at Orwell Dam near Fergus Falls shows numerous carp carcasses thrown on the shore. Despite being an invasive species, Otter Tail County conservation officer Troy Richards encourages anglers to dispose of the fish the proper way.

Otter Tail County conservation officer Troy Richards said Thursday that anglers frequenting the waters below Orwell Dam southwest of Fergus Falls are in jeopardy of losing their fishing rights.

The Army Corps of Engineers controls access to the dam and for some time their people at the facility have been very disappointed with some of the slob fishermen visiting the Otter Tail River facility. They have been called upon to remove dead carp carcasses left on the ground near the river.

“They’ll probably be putting up signs,” Richards said.

The waters below the dam have drawn anglers for many years. Richards said he has even seen fly fishermen going after rough fish during the winter months. The swift current of the river below the dam has made it a perfect hunting ground for the bowfishing crowd and they arrowed a large number of rough fish out of the river this past winter. There is no limit on carp during the season because carp are considered one of the most damaging aquatic invasive species. Their impact on wetlands and shallow lakes has been severe. Their bottom feeding roots up shallow plants, muddy the water and release phosphorus which is known to encourage algae.

“It’s a very popular sport - bowfishing,” Richards said. “It’s good in a certain way.”

The season is now over for bowfishing and having bowfishing equipment in proximity of a Minnesota lake or river is against the law. Richards recently had the duty of dealing with a group of young men who were not completely aware of this fact.

Richards pointed out that while there is no limit on carp during the archery season there is also no reason to leave dead, rotting carp carcasses scattered around. 

“I’ve had numerous complaints,” the local Department of Natural Resources conservation officer said. 

Richards knows of several places to take a haul of dead rough fish. There are turtle farms that will take them and the Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton feed rough fish to their bears.

Richards is not in favor of fishermen who dump their dead rough fish in ditches. He recommended disposing of them wherever it can legally be done. 

Regular statewide bowfishing opens again April 25 and goes until Feb. 28, 2021.

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