Asian carp were accidentally released in Arkansas during floods on the Mississippi River in the early 1990s.
Both bighead and silver carp are at-large throughout the basin. TWRA first detected substantial numbers of silver carp in the Mississippi River in the early 2000s.
The introduction of these carp into Tennessee waters is of great concern to the state. They pose a threat to fishing and boating where they are found. These fish compete for the same resources as our favorite sport and commercial fish, and can cause injury by colliding with boaters.
Today silver carp, the ones shown jumping above, are abundant in reservoirs on the lower Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. They are most abundant in Kentucky and Barkley lakes, but are spreading through locks into Alabama and up the Cumberland River toward the Kentucky state line.
Please help limit the spread of carp by being extra careful about moving bait fish. Young carp look very similar to shad. Learn to tell them apart. It is illegal to have a live silver or bighead carp in your possession. It is always illegal to stock any species of fish into public waters.
Silver and bighead carp can be harvested. There is no creel or length restrictions. They are a bony fish, but the meat is very tasty. There are several videos online that show techniques for filleting, and even easier methods that allow you to safely serve the fish with bones in. These are known as “carp wings.” Give it a try.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.