Important angler tip: Know the difference between shad and Asian carp

Like a lot of my fellow anglers who live in downstate Illinois, I really wouldn’t know an Asian carp from a grizzly bear. Well, I’d obviously know the difference between a fish and a bear, but you get the point.
We read and hear a lot about the invasive carp, yet many of us have never been in contact with one. As I plan a fishing trip on a couple of rivers up north, I decided I should educate myself just in case I do somehow meet one of the dreaded fish.
Worse, I could accidentally use an Asian carp for bait. That is definitely something I don’t want to do.
The way the DNR puts it, young Asian carp can easily be confused with many of the baitfish we anglers use to catch bigger predator fish. Emerald shiners, golden shiners and even gizzard shad resemble juvenile Asian carp.
“Because bait is often transported across state lines, including from areas with breeding populations of Asian carp, it would be easy for juvenile Asian carp to make their way into the bait supply without anyone realizing it,” the DNR noted.
The agency suggested looking up a video produced by the Michigan DNR that showcases five characteristics used to distinguish between juvenile Asian carp and common baitfish. These characteristics include color, scales, eyes, mouths and keels. That video can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tekJq3L0gPA&t=26s.
I have also included a photo with this blog that shows some of the differences between a gizzard shad and two species of Asian carp – the bighead and the silver.

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