Bighead carp caught on Minnesota River

A bighead carp was caught by a commercial angler last week on the Minnesota River near New Ulm, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The 25-pound male fish is the first bighead carp and second invasive carp confirmed in the Minnesota River. A grass carp was caught in the same location in December.

“We have suspected that bighead carp have occasionally entered the Minnesota River from the Mississippi River, but this is the first confirmed capture,” said DNR Invasive Fish Coordinator Nick Frohnauer. “This individual capture does not indicate reproduction or an established population of invasive carp in the Minnesota River.

“The DNR is concerned about the potential impacts of invasive carp in the Minnesota River watershed and has several projects in the works with partners around the state,” Frohnauer said.

  • Minnesota State University, Mankato has funding through the DNR to evaluate the Minnesota River for barrier potential to prevent spread of invasive carp. This includes floodplain analysis and habitat suitability for carp life stages. Data collection and analysis has begun, with a final report to the DNR due by December 2017.
  • The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center at the University of Minnesota has funding through the DNR to evaluate potential deterrents for Mississippi River Locks and Dams. They have installed acoustic speakers at Lock 8 and modeled flows through the gates at Dam 8.
  • DNR Fisheries has identified high value aquatic resources (i.e. lakes) in the Minnesota River watershed that could be protected with barriers in tributary streams. Adjacent property owners and respective county officials have been briefed on the project and site locations, with completion targeted for fall 2016.

“While it’s disappointing this carp was found,” Frohnauer said, “these actions and others are still important and valuable in helping prevent the long-term spread of invasive carp across the state.”

Invasive carp have been progressing upstream since escaping into the Mississippi River in the 1970s. These large fish compete with native species and pose a threat to rivers and lakes. While no breeding populations have been detected in Minnesota waters, individual fish have been caught in the Mississippi near the Twin Cities, in the St. Croix River, and now in the Minnesota River.

Invasive carp captures must be reported to the DNR immediately. Call 651-587-2781 or email Please take a photo and transport the carp to the nearest fisheries office or make arrangements for it to be picked up by a DNR official.

To learn more, visit the invasive carp page.