|another fishing locale, Lake Minnetonka.|
The carp is a symbol for nobility, honor, and courage in China and Japan. Rice farmers in Southeast Asia raise rice and carp in the same paddy and cash in on a double crop. Carp have been an important traditional food in Jewish, Scandinavian, and German holidays.
In Britain, carp is a highly prized game fish. More anglers pursue it there than any other species. It is usually caught and released. English anglers blacken their faces and wear foam-soled shoes to sneak up on wily carp.
In some countries carp was kept only as table fare for kings.
In Minnesota the carp also has its traditions and history.
June 22 and the second day of summer. A unique time of the year on a hot summer day, humidity is high, the hazy sun cooks on the river festival. After several days of rain the river is turbulent and muddy. Water through the dam gates runs fast. Families line the banks and the old and young try to catch the elusive carp. The carp is a king of fish in the river and shares his home with the even more elusive channel catfish. But this festival is all about the carp. You can see them, touch them, even eat them for free. (Carp meat is generally smoked or steamed) If you catch one from the river you have a chance to weigh in the fish for a selection of prizes from a bicycle for the youngsters to a boat, motor and trailer for the adult.
The banks are lined with families and old and young around Dunn's Island just below the dam. The anglers use a full menu of bait to attract carp, including dough balls, corn, chicken necks, or specially tied flies.
Matt and his family were all ready to catch those carp. Matt had on his carp hat, mom was in charge and hovering over the activities and dad had visions of the prize boat and motor being his.
But it was not to be dad's big day for it was Matt that caught the lunker and hurried to get it entered. It weighed in at 15.33 pounds and earned him a possible first place and certainly a prize to take home.
He had to stop several times on the way to the scales to show off the fish that overflowed his bucket. Even a city dog on a leash had to check out all the excitement.
The fishing by the kids is a hoot to watch. Some are more into it than others but only a kid would hug a big fish as he carried it in the hopes of winning a new bike.
There are tips to catching the big ones and fishing by the ladies is encouraged. What man in Minnesota would not treasure a woman that would join in a Saturday afternoon fishing on the banks of the muddy Mississippi?
The dam was originally a hydroelectric power plant of the upper Mississippi. 156 different kinds of fish live in the upper Mississippi River. Carp can survive better than other fish in water that is slow, warm, turbid, and polluted. Since humans had degraded water quality so badly, carp soon became plentiful and were blamed for the poor water quality. Carp can live and spawn in practically all types of water, so they started to dominate many rivers and lakes. In one season a 20 pound female carp can deposit as many as 2 million eggs. Carp may someday be instrumental in controlling weed growth in lakes. The mud vein that runs along the lateral line of the carp actually tastes like the bottom of the river in which the carp was caught.
When I grew up along the river banks it was easy for me to fish at my convenience. The carp was a fighting fish and fun to catch. It is also a fish no one seems to want to eat as it is a benefit in eating the river's discards. So we would catch them and throw them up on the bank of the river. There they would flop and flip until they died ....then a dog or other animal would scavenge the remains. The supply of large carp was endless and many fishing lines broke trying to fight and haul a carp to shore.
Even in the winter there are many things to do but all wait expectantly for another summer festival of the carp.
Edited Sunday, 22 August 2010